Gwynn and Zimmer; The Forgotten Men

Posted: July 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
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It was impossible not to notice Major League Baseball’s salacious lovefest for Derek Jeter at last night’s All Star Game in Minneapolis.From start to finish, the game was less about the superstars compiling both rosters and more about Jeter’s spectacular 18-year career.

That’s all well and good. But, what was easy to miss was the league’s celebration of two baseball legends who passed on this year, Tony Gwynn and Don Zimmer. That’s because the league and the game’s television network, FOX, completely and utterly dropped the ball, failing to recognize these goliaths of greatness at all during the four hour festivity.

Gwynn, who died from cancer at the age of 44 last month, attended 15 Midsummer Classics as a player, one more than Jeter. Recognized as one of the most feared hitters of all time, this gentle giant boasted a career .338 batting average and won eight batting titles. Elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 2007, Gwynn’s celebration was conspicuously absent from the evening. Was it because Gwynn played his entire career in San Diego, a much smaller media market than Jeter’s? Perhaps. Or, was it just further evidence that MLB has no idea what they’re doing when it comes to marketing their product to the masses?

Zimmer is perhaps best known to a younger generation of fans as Pedro Martinez’s punching bag. But, this legendary coach, who brought his contagious personality to 10 different clubhouses as a coach, was an All Star in his own right, attending the annual event as a Cub in 1961. The former Red Sox and Yankees coach passed away last month, as well. The failure of MLB to provide any sort of acknowledgement for Zimmer or Gwynn was inexcusable. zimmer

Was the nonstop infatuation with Jeter over-the-top? Yes, it was. But, it was most definitely deserved. The 40-year old shortstop has spent his entire career emitting class in a world devoid of it. However, the league’s failure to recognize its fallen heroes raises the question as to whether or not we put too much stock in media markets and money.

The last two seasons, we’ve seen Yankee legends ride off into the sunset with one last farewell tour. For Jeter and Mariano Rivera, MLB pulled out all the stops. But, what about for the last non-Yankee Hall-of-Famer to celebrate a season long finale? In 2012, Atlanta Braves 3B Chipper Jones was named to the NL All Star roster as a replacement for the injured Matt Kemp. Did Kansas City (the host of that year’s event) or the league celebrate for Jones the same way they have for Rivera and Jeter? No. Instead, Jones got a minor round of applause and a few gifts from the masses in attendance.

What MLB did for Jeter last night was appropriate. As one of the best of all time, the Yankees’ legend deserved one final hurrah. But, what wasn’t acceptable was the league’s failure to recognize the crowning achievements of those who have fallen. For Gwynn and Zimmer, there will be no more magical moments. For their loved ones, the league had a chance to immortalize their achievements one final time. Like they did with the 1994 player strike, the 1990s steroid saga, and the 2002 All Star Game, MLB once again dropped the ball.

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