Ripken and Smoltz praise Jeter
During a conference call this week to talk about the All-Star Game voting for the July 10 event at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. and former National League Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz commented on Derek Jeter’s runaway lead for the American League shortstop starting berth.
Ripken will be featured with former Yankees pitcher David Wells and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on TBS’ All-Star Game Selection show at 1 p.m. Sunday when the All-Star squads will be announced. Smoltz will team with Brian Anderson on TBS’ coverage of that day’s game between the Yankees and White Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Jeter, who turned 38 this week, has received more than four million votes going into the All-Star balloting, which ends at midnight, topped only by the leading total of Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton. Ripken was 40 when he made his last All-Star Game appearance in his final season of 2001 at Safeco Field in Seattle where he homered and was named Most Valuable Player.
“When you get up in age, you’re scrutinized at a higher level,” Ripken said. “You can’t be [an All-Star] just on reputation. You have to go out there and still play the game. When we look at players now, you compare Derek Jeter with a younger Derek Jeter. When we start comparing players to themselves, it’s unfair. All the talk last year about [Jeter] losing a step, not being there defensively and losing some power offensively, I’m sure he internalized that and worked harder in the offseason. He’s a fantastic player and has been for a long time.”
“I’m a big believer that age is just a number and sometimes we get carried away with guys not having success later in their careers,” Smoltz said. “He plays in a great place and he knows how to play the game. The Yankees are being rewarded with a player who has a lot of pride and does not rest on his laurels with the career that he has had.”