The Creepiest Stat I’ve Ever Researched

Even as the Minnesota Twins continued to succumb to their weird allergy here at Yankee Stadium (they’ve now lost 31 of their last 37 here, counting playoffs), Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 and the creepiest stat of all time just got a little worse.

I will state at the outset that those who interpret what’s being done as tribute have my full respect when they so claim. But, personally, I flinch every time I hear the voice of the late Bob Sheppard introduce Jeter, and my reaction is not unlike that of the late comedian Bill Hicks when he first saw a posthumous public service announcement featuring actor Yul Brynner: “What the heck is this guy selling?”

I thought the world of Mr. Sheppard, who extended kindness and support to me from the day I finally screwed up the courage to introduce myself to him. He did not undervalue his place in sports, but he had fun with it. When in 2004 I was researching the then-unknown identity of his predecessor (it was Yankees’ public relations director Arthur “Red” Patterson) I asked him if he had any earthy clue who it might have been, he said without batting an eyelash, “Methuselah!” Merely because I asked him, Bob spent fifteen minutes before the first game of the 1998 World Series with Tony Gwynn. Tony had said that one of the highlights of being in the Series again was the chance to hear Bob introduce him. I got Bob to record that introduction on a disk for me to present to Tony as a gift. Nobody who asked Bob for a favor – or the inevitable voicemail/answering machine message – was denied. I know one of Bob’s sons and have found him to be just as much a gentleman as his father, and I was privileged to get frequent updates on Bob’s health from Chris. I hosted the 2000 Subway World Series on Fox, and the thing became real to me when I wrapped up the pre-game show that it was my greatest honor to introduce him on the PA. When I would get to work the PA at Old Timers’ Day each July I was fully aware at every moment that I was on Bob’s PA.

I get it. I revered Bob Sheppard and I revere his memory daily. But the post-mortem introductions of Jeter have, I think, become disturbing.

And now there’s this to consider: Since Bob Sheppard died last July 11 and the tribute to the absent and beloved Public Address Voice of Yankee Stadium became instead a memorial, Derek Jeter is hitting just .263 here with one homer, 10 RBI, a .338 On Base Percentage and a .349 Slugging Percentage in 43 games. There are various dates and causes to assign to Jeter’s midseason eclipse last year but Mr. Sheppard’s passing is not exactly a random one – which makes the stat all the creepier. As of that sad day, Jeter had had 161 home at bats. Thereafter he had…exactly the same number: 161 home at bats. But in the first half of his home 2010 season Jeter was batting .316, with six homers, an On Base of .380 and a Slugging of .472.

Would it all turn around if Jeter had Sheppard’s successor Paul Olden announce his name, too? No, of course not. It would just be a little less…creepy.

23 Comments

One part macabre, two parts truth, one tongue in cheek makes for a fine piece. And a very odd trend indeed.

the creepiness could be doin’ a number on Jeter’s mental approach at the plate. It’s quite possible you’re on to something here Keith. I haven’t really watched the Yanks on YES much since July, partly ’cause it does feel a little weird to hear a dead man still doin’ that. It’s like a constant reminder that he’s not really here anymore… which is just, unnecessary for a ballgame.

For deeply personal reasons, I remember Yul Brynner’s posthumous public service ad very well.
At least it was serving a purpose: To offer people an unflinching warning against the horrors of a slow, painful death by cancer, brought on by long-term cigarette smoking. There was something to be learned in seeing Brynner’s face and hearing his voice long after the ravages of lung cancer had claimed his life.
This other trend . . . not so much.

Keith, just be glad you can still tell who is still alive and who is still dead. I have trouble with that. Cognitive loss can be creepy and yet most entertaining at the same time! Here is what I’m thinking. Truth is stranger than fiction! What if Lou Gehrig had not replaced Wally Pipp the day before he replaced PeeWee Wanninger, who replaced Everett Scott? “If wishes were…Iron horses, Lou would still ride…and if turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.” There is no such thing as time. If you believe that, it all gets a little less creepy. Hugs to you and ShoeBeDoBeDo!

I bet Mr. Sheppards’ pecuniary compensation was not in he same “league” as Derek Jeter;) I envy you, sir.. a very rich man indeed ;)

That is creepy, for sure. Really hope this is temporary and it doesn’t turn out to be a season for him like Ortiz had in 2009. That was torture!

Keith. Totally wrong here. We are lucky we had Bob as long as we did. I (and the majority of Yankee fans) enjoy the fact that we still hear his voice. It will be a sad day when Jeter retires and we wont hear his voice anymore.

hi david, I certainly agree with your post. Jeter was very close to Mr. Shepard and I think it is enjoyable to still hear his announcement.

Keith,Allow me to use another form of the word creep,as in creeping,which is what me and Tex (at first)feel is trepidation at the outcome of Jeter feilding a ground ball deep in the hole with nobody on.

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Your negativity toward Jeter has become creepy.

Jeter is falling fast. He might not be totally washed up, yet. But the Yankees giving him a 4-year contract was stupid business. A 37-year-old shortstop is a bad idea. Putting a 37-year-old plus .250 hitter with little power and no history of outfield play in left field is madness, too. Loyalty is fine and dandy. But are we in the loyalty business or the winning baseball games business? Just wondering.

I KNOW WHAT IT IS!

Undead announcer is introducing Zombie Jeter!

And with last night’s mortifying loss to the Twins, we’re seeing the beginning of the Yankee Zombie Apocalypse!

I don’t know whether to scream, “Holy CRAP, this is sooooo COOL!” or to head for the hills!

Yeah, I was at the game 2 nights ago (Monday), and kept thinking the same thing, just how creepy it his hearing this voice. But what can you say, that Bob Sheppard is a hard worker, and he never misses a day.

Ben

Nothing compares to the creepiness of watching you read James Thurber from a crypt.

Okay, Joe, that is funny. Tales From a Crypt and all. But he is reading that from his CRIB…so it is Tales From a Crib. Now, here comes that immortal question that everyone asks…WHY does one watch him if he or she does not WANT to watch him? THAT is creepier than the catacombs! But you seem like a nice guy, Joe, so we are just going to let you know that this pace is for rabid fans. Creepy, hunh? ;o)

Hey Pat, in answer to your question about “one” watching Olby, he is on Al Gore’s Network now, so no one is actually watching him. (Kinda like when he was on MSNBC.)
…and yes, you are right, being a rabid fan of Olbymoron is creepy…very creepy…

I don’t feel good enough to fight today, Joe. Feeling less rabid and more creepy myself. Happy Sunday. Hugs.

Does Bob Sheppard’s estate get royalty checks for his continued service for Jeter?

The Pirates still use recordings of organ music from former organist Vince Lascheid, without ever mentioning that he died two years ago. That always creeps me out. (And even in death, he still can’t keep up with the bouncing ball when they play “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.)

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