As of this writing, the 38-year old Jeter is leading the AL in hits with 169 this season. Jeter just passed Eddie Murray to move into 12th place on MLB's all-time hit list. He now has 3,257 hits for his career and needs 27 hits to pass Willie Mays and exactly 1,000 hits to pass Pete Rose for the number one spot. During 2010 and 2011, it had been suggested that Jeter was on his last legs. But everybody loves a comeback story.
When Bayless was making his argument (which stopped short of accusing Jeter of actually using PEDs), Stephen A. Smith went ballistic on him. At one point, Smith absurdly compared Jeter to "a decorated soldier." However, Smith is correct to say that Jeter is an "institution" in Major League Baseball. But the same could have been said for the likes of Jeter's former teammate Roger Clemens, his current teammate Alex Rodriguez and, for that matter, Pete Rose.
But Bayless stuck to his guns. "I am not saying he uses a thing. I have no idea. But within the confines of his sport, it is fair for all of us, in fact you are remiss, if you don't at least think about this."
Well, I must admit that the thought has crossed my mind that Derek Jeter has been using PEDs. Indeed, it has been a subject of conversation with my Dad during our regular phone calls about baseball. Granted, I am a Red Sox fan and Jeter has long been a thorn in the side of Red Sox pitching. So you can take my thoughts with however many grains of salt you wish. But how can a 38-year old man run down to first base faster than he did five years ago?
Now one could certainly argue that it would be irresponsible to make such a speculation without more compelling evidence. One could also argue that it is unfair to single out Jeter. After all, given MLB's more stringent drug testing procedures I would imagine that Jeter has passed hundreds of these tests in recent years. Even if Jeter using PEDs has crossed my mind, it has done so because of my heart, not my head.
For his part, when Jeter was asked about Bayless' comments he suggested in jest that Bayless ought to be tested. Well, I hope for Jeter's sake that he's telling the truth. If Jeter retired today he would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Of course, he does have an outside shot at eclipsing Pete Rose and if he does that would be a magnificent accomplishment. But if Jeter does test positive for PEDs then he, like Pete Rose, can kiss the Hall of Fame goodbye and for that matter all the goodwill he has built up over the past 15 years or so. He would become yet another of baseball's discredited institutions.
There would also be a lot of people who would owe Skip Bayless an apology starting with Stephen A. Smith.
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