With the All-Star Game still seven weeks away, Derek Jeter was stunned to learn yesterday that anyone had bothered to count the vote totals so far.
“All-Star Games are always great, but this is so far out,” Jeter said. “I remember one time — I don’t even remember what year it was,’99 when it was in Boston? — I was leading ’til like a couple of hours left in the voting and then Nomar (Garciaparra) got me.”
Jeter was right. It was in 1999 that Garciaparra made a late charge to overtake Jeter. But in Jeter’s final season before retirement, there isn’t another shortstop who nearly matches his overall popularity. Jeter is currently the leading vote getter among American League shortstops, and he has the third-most votes of any American League player at any position. Only Mike Trout and Jose Bautista have more. White Sox shortstop Alexi Ramirez has the second-most votes of any shortstop, trailing Jeter by almost 130,000.
“I always tell you guys, All-Star Games are great,” Jeter said. “It’s a fun experience. You never know when you’re going to get a chance to go, but it’s something that I think every player would look forward to.”
This would be Jeter’s 14th All-Star Game, and his ninth time being voted as the starter. Ramirez is outplaying him so far this season, but I honestly have no problem with the All-Star starters being little more than a popularity contest. If the All-Star Game is a celebration of greatness, then I don’t think anyone should be too upset if Jeter is invited. He’s not the best shortstop in the American League, but I don’t think there are many players the baseball world would rather see this season.
“I would love to see it,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s played extremely well. I know Ramirez has played extremely well in Chicago, too. I understand he’s third overall in votes and I think that’s a great thing. He’s meant a ton to this game.”
Would it mean more to Jeter if he were elected in his final season?
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “I was not even aware that it comes out this soon. But I’ve appreciated every single one that I’ve gone to.”
Associated Press photo