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The Dugout by Bill Simmons

By / 06.15.11

Today on With Leather: I wanted to call it “Celebrity Dugout Week!” or “Guest Dugout Week!” but I’m always swamped on Mondays, and I’m not sure how many readers would buy Wednesday to Tuesday as a legitimate theme week. Anyway, welcome to Celebrity Guest Dugout Week!

Today’s comic is by “That Sports Guy!” Bill Simmons, of ESPN and Grantland.com fame. Simmons is an incredible talent and the only person in the history of sports journalism to have seen movies or watched TV shows. Can you imagine Peter Gammons dropping “I Love Lucy” references into his columns? “Vlad Guerrero hacked at the ball like Ethel Mertz desperately stuffing chocolates into her mouth to keep the chocolate factory from firing her.” It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for anybody else!

Enjoy the strip, which we hope to be the first of many. The first of many, or the first part of one really, really long one.




The Dugout

SportsGuy33: derek jeter is exactly like the los angeles lakers, because  
SportsGuy33: /deletes everything, starts over  
SportsGuy33: Watching Derek Jeter lumber toward 3,000 hits is like watching Rocky Balboa being punched in the streets by Tommy Gunn, head bleeding, the ghosts (were they ghosts?) of Ivan Drago and Mickey telling him "[he] ain’t heard no bell".  
SportsGuy33: /deletes everything, starts over1 1.I didn’t really delete everything and start over, it’s a joke, The column hasn’t gone full "Sports Guy is the Baltimore Orioles" yet.

SportsGuy33: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was Derek Jeter’s first hit in the Major Leagues.

It was May 30, 1995, in Seattle. I was 38 years old. I’d gotten tickets to the Kingdome from my good friend Scooter, who still holds a grudge against me to this day. "Ted DiBiase should’ve won the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 42!" he’d say. "You’re right," I’d retort, in my usual way. "Ted DiBiase wrestled Macho Man Randy Savage for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 4." He’d steam, then walk away.

I wish I’d walked away, too.

2.Of the 14 "grapplers" in the Wrestlemania 4 tournament, only 9 are still alive. This has almost nothing to do with it happening 25 years ago.

SportsGuy33: There were only 10,709 fans in the Kingdome that day, 10,710 if you count me twice. Or, if you count my body as one as my head as another.

"I’m anxious to see the way he handles himself in the clubhouse up here," said Buck Showalter, who I hate almost as much as Eddie Kasko. Jeter handled himself. There’s a joke in that sentence, and if I can fit 20,000 words into this chatroom window I will explain it.

Jeter stepped into the batting box, his uniform looser than normal, summer still eating away at him like he was a turnbuckle and George "The Animal" Steele (wrestler) was the summer — he had no idea how many babes he’d nail in the years to come. Alex Rodriguez wasn’t even born.

He roped a fifth-inning single against Mariners starter Tim Belcher (who’d already lived for 35 years with the indignity of the name "Belcher"3 … as if he was the only man alive who could stomach the burden of Jeter’s encroaching, dignified indignity).

3.He was better than the alternative: Bob Farter!
SportsGuy33: I remember Larry Bird’s first shot as a Boston Celtic more than I remember Jeter’s first hit, although I’ve talked about it here at length. Now that I’ve mentioned Larry Bird — who skipped the Pinky Higginses and Johnny Peskys of basketball and went straight to being Terry Francona-  
  **Online Host**
KlosterPhobic has entered the chatroom.
 
KlosterPhobic: Lol hey man what’s up  

SportsGuy33: Hey man not much, just bein’ the everyman, hanging out with my wife and kid

have I ever mentioned to you that I have a wife and a kid

 
KlosterPhobic: look hey sorry to interrupt your Sincere Internet Literature™, but do you remember the ninja turtles  
SportsGuy33: I’m not sure?4

4.Of course I do.

KlosterPhobic: who do you think would win in a fight, the Ninja Turtles or the Trix Rabbit, would you rather watch the Ninja Turtles fight the Trix Rabbit or be stuck on a deserted island with them all  
SportsGuy33: heh!  
KlosterPhobic: ok, gotta go  
  **Online Host**
KlosterPhobic has left the chatroom. 5
5.People think I got these footnotes from David Foster Wallace, but I actually stole them from Dave Barry.
SportsGuy33: Okay, so, where was I?  
JetersNeverProsper6: You were trying to say I’m about to get 3,000 hits, but you were taking forever to say it. 6.Derek Jeter’s first appearance in a regular Dugout strip was in October 2004’s Welcome to Singles Chat. In it, writer Nick Dallamora suggested Jeter was gay. Why? We may never know.

SportsGuy33: that doesn’t sound like me.

 
JetersNeverProsper: Why don’t you just say "Derek Jeter is about to get 3,000 hits" and add a little good natured levity to it, it’s not that important, you don’t have to say a lot  

SportsGuy33: So I talked this Dugout over with some of the guys at ESPN2, and this is what we’ve got:

a. Derek Jeter getting the Stone Cold Stunner from Hulk Hogan at Wrestling Mania, in front of a capacity crowd, and I’m there to see it

 
JetersNeverProsper: argh, no  
SportsGuy33: b. Derek Jeter stands too close to whatever the baseball sideline reporter equivalent is to Erin Andrews and goes on the DL; calls up his roommate Bill Simmons, who gives up his Clippers season tickets to put on Jeter’s jersey and fills in for a game, or several.  
JetersNeverProsper: aren’t you a Red Sox fan?  
SportsGuy33: Sure, but in this scenario you’re in first place, so I like you more  
SportsGuy33: C. Have you ever seen Karate Kid  
JetersNeverProsper: is that really its own letter  
JetersNeverProsper: yes?  
SportsGuy33: Johnny Lawrence shows no mercy and sweeps Derek Jeter’s leg (quotes from the film) just before he gets to 3,000 hits. I compare it to Roberto Clemente, but only a little, because it is actually more like the Karate Kid  
JetersNeverProsper: just try saying "derek jeter is close to 3,000 hits"  
SportsGuy33: what, why, who would want to read that, I’m the lovechild of Toni Morrison and Chris Berman, if I don’t write longform who will mistake me for Wordsworth Longfellow  
JetersNeverProsper: just try  
SportsGuy33: uh, well, okay /clears throat, doesn’t make voice any deeper  

SportsGuy33: "Derek Jeter is getting close to 3,000 hits7."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.It was a dark and stormy night at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox were in first place — I made sure to check ESPN.go.com/mlb/standings before accepting front row seats. I remember my Dad watching Jeter swing the bat earlier this season. "He just doesn’t have it this year." We changed it back over to the hockey game, which we watched, unless hockey season is over now.

I sat in the front row, beside my wife and Koko B. Ware, wondering if even Steve Urkel would’ve requested the cheese from Yankee Stadium nachos, and that’s when it happened: Jeter swung his arms around, bending at the elbows, following through, falling toward first base, wearing shoes, and the ball blooped into the outfield.

It was a hit.

It was his 3,000th hit.

I decided to write up a column about it, thinking to myself "Jeter is a new player. Who IS this guy?" I asked Chuck Klosterman what kind of angle I should take, and he suggested me asking people to consider hypothetically if Derek Jeter’s single had been literal magic, and if this was better or worse than breaking your soulmate’s collarbone every four hours. I couldn’t decide. I asked my wife and kid. They didn’t know.

With a tear in my eye, I called up my Dad. "Jeter’s a new man," I said. "I like the Boston Red Sox, but he’s so good, I might have to like him too." My Dad chuckled. "The Red Sox are gonna lose every game this season."

They won every game in 2011.

My Dad died that afternoon.

JetersNeverProsper: see, that wasn’t so bad, was it  
SportsGuy33: No, that was awesome.  
Photos link to player info. WordUpThome.com

Bill Simmons is the Editor in Chief of Grantland and the author of the recent New York Times No. 1 best-seller The Book of Basketball, now out in paperback with new material and a revised Hall of Fame Pyramid. He did not actually write any of this. This is all in fun, and he is more beloved and successful than I will ever be. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sportsguy33 and check out his new home on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/billsimmons.


TOPICS#PRO WRESTLING
TAGSbill simmonsBOSTON CELTICSboston red soxchuck klostermanDEREK JETERESPNgrantlandNEW YORK YANKEESTHE DUGOUT

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