— It’s a slogan that could’ve been stenciled on the back of a sanitation truck.
Instead, “No More Number Two” is the guarantee stamped on the home page for the Jeter Filter a browser hack that searches any website for the words "Derek Jeter" and automatically erases them before your cursor can get snagged on an errant pinstripe.
Although the demo pictures promise a Jeter-free online experience, there’s no way it could collect every recent reference to the Yankees shortstop. Not now, not when every at bat could put him closer to 3,000 hits and definitely not before he makes his annual appearance on the American League All-Star team.
After going 1-for-3 with a double in a 5-3 loss to the Indians on Wednesday night, Jeter needs to send just three more Rawlings skipping across the infield to become the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club. And regardless of what his career H-count is, next Tuesday night he’ll run onto Chase Field and tip his hat as he’s introduced as an All-Star for the 12th time. Of the 68 players on this year’s combined All-Star rosters, only Alex Rodriguez has earned more commemorative uniform patches (14) than Jeter and their coworker Mariano Rivera (12).
Should Jeter be making his sixth straight All-Star start? Of course not. He’s batting .257 — the lowest average of any starter — with a pair of home runs and the most anemic-looking stat line of his career. But because of his enduring, undying popularity, he’ll be inked on the lineup card until the earth crashes into the sun or the 93rd Transformers movie (Transformers: A Gluten Free Revolution), whichever comes first.
There were 247 players who made their major league debuts in 1995, and only nine remain on active rosters. Three are on the Yankees: Jeter, Rivera and Jorge Posada. Despite signing a three-year contract that will keep him in New York’s infield until his early 40s, a day will come when another player will take Jeter's place as a perennial All-Star.
So who are the potential Jeters-to-Be? I have a few ideas, although not all of them were invited to this year’s All-Star Game. They did all earn a number beside their names on the Sporting News list of the Top 50 Best Players in Baseball, so that’s almost as good as lunch from the Kokopelli Deli in the Phoenix airport.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: It wasn’t even close. The current — and defending — home run leader shattered the record for the most All-Star votes, breaking Ken Griffey Jr.’s mark by 1.4 million clicks and texts. Bautista, the nobody-turned-somebody, is so popular this season, he probably could’ve kept Scotty McCreery out of the starting lineup.
In addition to smacking an MLB-best 28 home runs, he’s batting .331 and leads both leagues in a stack of abbreviations: OBP, SLG, OBPS, and BB, but the one set of numbers that makes you raise an eyebrow isn’t on the back of his baseball card; it’s on his drivers’ license. Bautista will turn 31 this year so he clock should start ticking on his career...but I think he just blasted another home run through it.
Ryan Braun, Brewers: As soon as Braun runs out of the National League dugout, he’ll set a record for the most All-Star starts by a Brewers player. Braun has been stepping around the shards of broken records since he signed with the Brewers: during his Rookie of the Year season in 2007, he set first year marks for slugging percentage and home run pace and is possibly the first ever Brewer to cut and paste his Wikipedia entry onto his official website.
This year, Braun earned all five million of his NL-leading All-Star votes by batting .320 and sitting in the top five for all the major statistical categories. Although he’s currently day-to-day with a Jeter-approved calf strain, Braun has averaged 155 games per season and has yet to miss time with a serious injury. That kind of durability combined with his consistency at the plate could make him the third player to wear a Milwaukee logo into Cooperstown. (Sorry, should I have said 'SPOILER ALERT?').
Evan Longoria, Rays: Only 10 players in MLB history have won a Gold Glove, an AL Silver Slugger and the AL Rookie of the Year award. One of them is Jeter. Another is Evan Longoria. The three-time All-Star has already missed 29 games this season due to injury, so he won’t make the trip to Arizona, but he did wrap up 2010 with career highs in batting average (.294), OBP (.372) and hits (169). He also notched an AL-leading 7.6 Wins Above Replacement in the American League, which means he also gets credit for making me type the nerdiest sentence I’ve ever written.
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Apparently the ony way a Pirate can grab our attention is if it’s played by Johnny Depp. That’s the only explanation why Pittsburgh’s 24 year old center fielder couldn’t commandeer an invite to Arizona. “I think everybody whiffed on this one,” first-year manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m going to take this opportunity to … be disappointed in the entire process.”
About the time the latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick was pulled out of theatres, their Pittsburgh counterparts started to roll. They’re second in the NL Central, and McCutchen is coming off a blistering June, with a stat line that could’ve melted Jack Sparrow’s gold teeth. McCutchen is also in the top five for both Offensive and Defensive WAR; that’s a claim no other All-Star — or any other player, period — can make.
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: If anyone has the potential to out-Jeter Jeter, it’s Tulo. He’s hands-down a better defensive shortstop, has Jeter’s innate leadership abilities and enough swagger to pull it off. The only downside is that he can be more breakable than Toni Braxton’s heart. After missing last season’s All-Star game with a fractured wrist, a strained quad muscle might keep him sidelined on Tuesday.
Despite the (occasionally self-inflicted) injuries, Tulowitzki has continued to build on the promise he showed as a rookie in 2007. Like Jeter, he helped his team reach the World Series in his first season. Unlike Jeter, he didn’t have to clean champagne stains out of his uniform. Jeter’s ’96 season ended with an oversized ring. Tulo’s ended with a .195 postseason average, 8 hits and 15 strikeouts.
"Being in my rookie year and having the whole stadium chant your name, to take a calm at-bat? It's tough," Tulowitzki said before last season. "Not to say I'm this big veteran, but at the same time, I think my at-bats now are different, just because I've been in that situation, been in the stadium where everybody's yelling your name."
In 2010, Tulowitzki led NL shortstops in batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS and home runs. After signing a contract extension in October, he’ll be wearing a Rockies uniform through 2020, through his 36th birthday.
I wonder if we’ll have a Tulo Filter by then.