One of the best moments of outright horror in the early chapters of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comes when Morpheus, the king of dreams, condemns an enemy to "eternal waking:" He awakes from a terrible nightmare to realize he was only dreaming, only to see that reality dissolve into a terrible nightmare, from which he awakes to realize he was only dreaming, only to see that reality dissolve...
Cut to Derek Jeter and his own curse of eternal waking: Jeter wants to play shortstop, or at least designated hitter, for the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees would like this very much as well. On Thursday, he awoke into a reality in which he was healthy and playing for the Yankees, only to have that reality dissolve back into the nightmare: He is still 39 and though the spirit is willing, well, you know the rest. And so onward we will go, forever, until such time as he decides it is time to hang up his guns and take his inevitable place at Cooperstown.
The official word is that Jeter exited yesterday's game with a grade 1 strain of the quadriceps. With the All-Star break looming, the Yankees will refrain from placing him on the disabled list and will instead rest him through the weekend in the hopes that a full week of rest will solve the problem. The Yankees will be short-handed for three games -- hey, it's the American League, and you don't pinch-hit much anyway.
Thus, the dream of Derek Jeter, ageless shortstop, will wait be tested. It still seems a quixotic thing to be chasing. As Rob Neyer wrote here on Thursday, "Jeter is probably good for a 700 OPS in his sleep. And that would be a huge improvement over the 552 they've gotten to this point." That much seems certain. Should he prove to be a competent fielder, however, he would buck all of baseball history and the arc of his own career. Thus, despite Jeter's striving, he may not get what he wants -- and that is, in a certain dire and bitter sense, wonderful. To paraphrase Stephen Crane:
A man said to the universe,
"Sir, I want to play shortstop!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
Or if you prefer something at least a little more recent, "No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful... Everyone dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful."
Have a good weekend.
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