Paoletti: It's a pity party, and we're all invited

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Paoletti: It's a pity party, and we're all invited

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
Poor Derek Jeter.

The Yankee captain returned from the DL last night and went 0-for-4 against the Indians.

This isn't deserving of pity; guys have 'o-fer' nights from time to time.

No, I feel for Jeter today because The Sports World has decided he's an old horse in need of a friendly bullet and there's nothing he can do about it.

On the front page of ESPN.com: "O-for-Fourth"

Headlining SI.com: "No Fireworks"

The New York Times sports page: "Jeter is Back, but He's Not the Same"

All of the stories, essentially, say the same thing: Derek Jeter had a glorious prime, but it's probably over. When a man is early in his professional sports career he has slumps; when he's 37 bad days are a symptom of The End.

Every game he plays now reeks of some inevitability. Those covering nod knowingly at the struggles. If he had a double-dinger night tomorrow, they would smile small, sad little smiles . . . the way you do when your old, lame dog bounds out the door to greet you the way he used to as a puppy. You're delighted because, in that moment, you remember the two-mile runs and the half-hour games of fetch. But as he later lays, panting at your feet all you can see is the white hairs and heaving chest.

Jeter fans are guarding his life-support plug with stubborn loyalty. Like ol' Scruffy's owner, they're focused on the good times -- on The Diving Catch et al.

Why else would they vote him (2 HR, 20 RBI, .256 AVG, .320 OBP) as a starter on the 2011 All-Star team?

It makes you feel good that people appreciate how you play," he said of the selection. "Youre going to have years where your first half is going to be better than others. This year, Im not happy with my first half. But you still appreciate what the fans think about you.

Michael Sokolove wrote a story about Jeter's decline for NYT Magazine. This excerpt was highlighted by Deadspin ("Ifthe Yankees Don't Let Anyone Say Derek Jeter is Washed Up, He Won't beWashed Up"):

The prospect of this article did not sit well with the Yankees, or at least elements of its hierarchy. Jason Zillo, the team's media director, would not grant me access to the Yankees' clubhouse before games to do interviews. I have been a baseball beat writer, have written two baseball books and have routinely been granted clubhouse credentials for a quarter-century, as just about anyone connected to a reputable publication or broadcast outlet usually is. "We're not interested in helping you, so why should I let you in?" Zillo said, before further explaining that he views his role as a "gatekeeper" against stories the Yankees would rather not see in print.
Can you blame them?

Jeter is the face of the franchise. Take him permanently out of the leadoff spot and it's the end of an era. The Yankees can win without him -- they already have -- but it won't be a pretty scene when the city is forced to turn from the guy whose name is emblazoned on seven A.L. pennants and five World Series titles.

Even less can you blame Jeter.

The end of his playing career won't be a business transaction, it will be the biggest identity shift of his life. In this glaring light it seems too personal to watch.

But we will -- it's unavoidable. Maybe the tape will need to last another decade, a la Julio Franco. Maybe not. Either way, we'll all have a front-row seat.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

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Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

MIAMI  — Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.

Authorities said Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

"Hands down one of my favorite guys to watch pitch! He brought nothing but intensity and passion," Red Sox pitcher David Price said on Twitter early Sunday.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with a jetty, said FWC's Lorenzo Veloz.

"We are stunned and devastated," Major League Baseball said in a statement.

City of Miami Fire-Rescue workers were seen carrying bodies, draped and on stretchers, at the Coast Guard station after sunrise Sunday. The names of the other two individuals are being withheld pending notification of relatives, the Coast Guard said.

Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year and was enormously popular in Miami.

He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times — landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries — before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.

"I'm still in shock," former Marlins player Gaby Sanchez said on Twitter. "The world has lost a remarkable person. You will be missed and my heart goes out to the Fernandez family."

© 2016 Associated Press.

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.