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Derek Jeter belongs in the All-Star Game, and you know it

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Don't be a weenie about this.

Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

Updated list of worst people in the world:

  1. People who don't use turn signals
  2. People who prefer creamy peanut butter
  3. Jason
  4. People who are legitimately angry that Derek Jeter is starting the 2014 All-Star Game

This is serious stuff, the All-Star Game. And it's worth getting mad at the people who are mad at Derek Jeter. I knew there would be a backlash, but sometimes the backlash is so predictable, you don't see it coming. People are actually mad that Jeter was voted the starting shortstop in his final season. Let's try to reconcile a couple of dissonant ideas, then, and see if we can make sense of everything.

Point: Derek Jeter is not the best shortstop in the American League

This is an uncontroversial point. There isn't a baseball fan in the world who watches Jeter right now and thinks he or she is watching one of the 10, 20 or 200 best baseball players in the world. He's hitting a soft .273, and his power is gone. He has the range of a patio umbrella, and he doesn't run nearly as well as he used to. He is Jaws 8, which makes it hard to remember just how great Jaws was.

On merit, on pure merit and baseball ability, there's a chance that Jeter wouldn't be on the International League All-Star team this year. This is what the offended parties get right. Jeter is a former great and a current drag.

Counterpoint: You don't care about Erick Aybar

No one cares about Erick Aybar. Okay, there are Angels fans. There's probably a Mrs. Aybar or two. But at no point have you muttered the words, "Did you see what Erick Aybar did last night?" to a co-worker. You have not said the words "Erick Aybar" out loud in your life, unless you're in an AL-only fantasy league, which means you might have said "... Erick Aybar? I guess?" You do not have opinions on Aybar. You don't have a top-10 list of his greatest career highlights. You don't have a top-1 list of his greatest career highlights.

Aybar-johnson-lol

Okay, maybe you have a top-1. But he's not known for that. He's known for being that guy on the Angels, always and forever.

Gimme a second to make sure he's still on the Angels.

He's that guy on the Angels. That's all Aybar is to you and to the rest of baseball. He's a better shortstop than Derek Jeter right now, and he's having a better season. But he's not a star. At no point will you ever stop what you're doing and turn on the TV because of Erick Aybar. This all applies to Alcides Escobar, too. Just swap the names out.

I care about Derek Jeter. Enough to watch him in the All-Star Game one more time, at least. Enough to turn the volume up during pregame introductions. Enough to see how he'll react when Josh Donaldson, unclear on the concept, offers to let Jeter play third base before first pitch. We've already established that you secretly like Derek Jeter, which means you want to see him honored the last time he'll be at the center of the baseball universe.

The Cal Ripken reference up there brings up an obvious comparison, and you'll hear it a lot. For good reason, too. When Ripken started the 2001 All-Star Game, he was broken. He finished the season with a .276 on-base percentage, playing lousy defense the whole time.

But we remember the game. We remember the classy move from Alex Rodriguez, offering up short to Ripken, a move that endeared A-Rod to us forever and ever and ever. We remember the dinger, the possibly-grooved-but-who-cares pitch he drilled. We remember the ovations and the curtain calls.


Aybar has never made an All-Star Game, and he's had a nice career that probably deserves to be rewarded at some point. His No. 1 comp on Baseball-Reference.com's similarity scores is Jason Bartlett, and that gives us a good idea of how Aybar's (or Escobar's or J.J. Hardy's or ...) appearance would have been remembered. As in, it wouldn't have been remembered. Jason Bartlett faced Heath Bell and grounded to short in the 2009 All-Star Game. If Jeter didn't make the team, Aybar would have replaced Alexei Ramirez in the late innings, and he would have grounded to short off Heath Bell, at least in spirit.

Instead, there's a chance for Jeter to do the full Ripken, to not only get feted like the inner-circle Hall of Famer he is, but to have a memorable performance, too. I'm not fond of the Yankees, and I'm not fond of the idea that one of the few times they were truly awful in the last 100 years, they somehow made it out the other side with a Hall of Fame shortstop that five teams whiffed on. But I can appreciate that Jeter had one of the greatest careers we'll ever be lucky enough to watch. It was a career so good, it transcends the fluff pieces and constant slobbering. And I want to see it recognized more than in the "Here's a pair of cashmere socks with a Padres logo on them" way.

The All-Star Game is the perfect place to do that. We had it last year with Mariano Rivera, and it was fantastic. Jeter isn't nearly deserving as Rivera was, at least as far as first-half stats go, but I want to see him be the center of attention, one last time. The alternative is Jason Bartlett grounding out to Heath Bell. Preferring that alternative is just weird.