Dan Schlossberg's All-Star Report: FanFest salutes Derek Jeter • Latino Sports

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Dan Schlossberg’s All-Star Report: FanFest salutes Derek Jeter

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MINNEAPOLIS – As players and fans arrive in the Twin Cities in advance of tonight’s Home Run Derby and tomorrow’s All-Star Game, some related enterprises are already in full swing.

FanFest is the best case in point.

The annual extravaganza, best described as an indoor baseball carnival with cards, interactive displays, and celebrity autograph sessions, the 2014 edition is a full-blown tribute to Derek Jeter, the retiring captain of the New York Yankees.

Derek Jeter plays in his 14th final All-Star Game Tuesday night Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Derek Jeter plays in his 14th final All-Star Game Tuesday night
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

The event could be called “Everything Jeter that You’d Be Afraid to Ask.”

There are special Topps cards, Jeter pins, Jeter photographs, and a wide variety of Jeter T-shirts linked to his final All-Star appearance.

Two things make these items even more valuable:

1. They are not likely to be sold at Yankee Stadium

2. The pitching-poor Yankees are not likely to reach the postseason, making tomorrow night’s game Jeter’s last showcase event

Jeter shirts come in all shapes and sizes, making them available to the myriad of teenaged girls and young women who idolize the 40-year-old shortstop, now in a record 20th year as a Yankee.

It also makes the wandering writer wonder what would have happened if

Red Sox manager John Farrell filled out the AL All-Star roster Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Red Sox manager John Farrell filled out the AL All-Star roster
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Alexei Ramirez, having a much better year than Jeter, would have won the fan vote. Chances are American League manager John Farrell would have added Jeter to the roster anyway but stranger things have happened.

The Most Valuable Player of the 2000 All-Star Game in Atlanta, Jeter is clearly on the decline. Missing most of last season with a broken ankle eroded his skills to the point where his range, throwing arm, and offense have all suffered. But manager Joe Girardi still plays him almost every day, mainly because he’s the star attraction of a struggling team and a long-time hero the fans long to see.

Like Derek Jeter, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones spent his whole career with one club

Like Derek Jeter, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones spent his whole career with one club

Playing in his 14th All-Star Game tomorrow night, Jeter can expect to receive the same farewell treatment at Target Field that he has received on every road trip this season. Players who stay with one team for their entire careers are a rarity in the era of free agency but Jeter, like the retired Mariano Rivera last year and the also-retired Cal Ripken, Jr. and Chipper Jones, managed the feat. Plus he did it with class and dignity.

All of us at Latino Sports wish him well in his new career as a book publisher. His first title, in fact, will be a children’s fiction book with autobiographical  touches while his second will be an adult book about the life of blind sportswriter Ed Lucas.

Elsewhere around the majors:

No surprise that the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are tied atop the NL East at the break. This writer predicted before the season started that the two would finish tied, complicating an already-confusing playoff picture that features four rounds . . .

MLB Network broadcaster John Smoltz points out that Tom Glavine tried to

John Smoltz, who pitched for Boston and St. Louis in his last year, should reach the Hall of Fame in 2015

John Smoltz, who pitched for Boston and St. Louis in his last year, should reach the Hall of Fame in 2015

extend his career another year by pitching in the minors but never earned a promotion to the Atlanta varsity. Had that happened, Glavine and Smoltz would have been part of the same Hall of Fame induction class — next year’s — instead of Glavine and Greg Maddux this year . . .

With owners and executives of 30 teams huddled together at various social functions, trade talk has heated up considerably. With the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades approaching, most teams want pitching while a few seek to replace position players. Case in point: the Cincinnati Reds, who lost former All-Stars Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, leaving gaping holes on the right side of their infield . . .

Will the real Josh Beckett please stand up? If he the overpowering guy who pitched his first no-hitter earlier this year or the brittle veteran who has returned to his usual spot on the Dodgers disabled list? . . .

Now that the Cubs have shipped half their pitching staff to Oakland, the foibles of Edwin Jackson look even worse.  Hard to believe that former boy wonder Theo Epstein agreed to sign this guy, let alone pay him millions to lose twice as many as he wins . . .

Toronto’s charge from worst to first in the AL East took a major hit when slugger Edwin Encarnacion, perhaps the American League’s first-half MVP, was sidelined for six weeks just before the break . . .

The Cardinals will find Yadier Molina, shown here with David Ortiz,  impossible to replace Image Credit: Bill Menzel

The Cardinals will find Yadier Molina, shown here with David Ortiz, impossible to replace
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Even tougher to replace is Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, out two months with a thumb injury. The team has a far better won-lost record when he plays . . .

Former Yankees publicist Marty Appel compares former Joe Torre favorably against Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, and Miller Huggins, former Yankee pilots who reached the Hall of Fame. Appel points out that Torre had to survive several rounds of postseason playoffs to win his four world championships . . .

Tough TV choice tonight: Home Run Derby or the final episode of 24: Live Another Day.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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