In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Michael Battista, asks our panel of experts three questions: Can anybody on the Yankees replace Derek Jeter, will Jaromir Jagr ever win another Stanley Cup at the age of 43 and can boxing become mainstream again with its new TV deal?
1. Who, if anyone, will step up as a leader to replace Derek Jeter?
Otto: It’s impossible to replace Derek Jeter. Period. Because of that, I think fans and the media will look for any sign to crown the next face of the franchise very quickly before seeing a good amount of games. That’s going to cause a lot of disappointments, because this is not a talented roster. A big chunk of the payroll is designated for free-agent acquisitions like Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, guys who have established themselves as solid players in the league but as members of other teams. And, of course, there’s Alex Rodriguez, who we all know won’t step up to anything. I don’t see any young player making that jump to lead the Yankees and taking over as the locker room leader. While the veterans will lead by example, no one, at least for this year, will become “the guy” for the Yankees.
George: In the 12th century, Hartmann von Aue wrote a poem about the child born of an incestuous affair between a brother and sister who, ignorant of his own origin, married his own mother (aunt?) only to repent and become the pope, leader of the Catholic Church. The name baby? Gregorius. That is why I think Didi Gregorius, who is already filling Jeter’s cleats as the Yankee’s new shortstop, is a prime candidate to become the team’s new leader. While Didi’s story may not be as extreme, it’s clear that all you need to become the leader of something as important as the Catholic Church or the New York Yankees is the name Gregorius. It’s a good thing the Yankees snatched Didi when they did. It’s possible his talent could’ve been squandered if he were brought onto a much less important team like the Mets.
Josh: Without Derek Jeter, there will be a large leadership void in the New York Yankees this season. I believe that Mark Teixeira will step up and partially fill that void, provided he can stay at least as healthy as he did last season. Teixeira has been on four different teams over his 12 seasons in the MLB and has gone to the playoffs five times, including the Yankees’ 2009 championship run. During his career, Teixeira is a two-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger winner and a five-time Gold Glove Winner. He has been with the organization since 2009, making him one of the longest tenured players with the Yankees on the roster. Hopefully he can stay healthy and provide the Bombers with some much-needed leadership.
George gets 3 points for his analogy. Otto gets 2 points for sighting the lack of homegrown talent, and Josh gets 1 point for thinking an injury-prone Teixeira can lead a team.
2. Will Jaromir Jagr win another championship in the NHL?
Otto: Most people at TCNJ weren’t even born before Jaromir Jagr won his last Stanley Cup. It’s been 23 years since he last held up that trophy, so I can’t really blame him for still being hungry and wanting to return to the top. He’s had very modest success since returning to the NHL four years ago, but more importantly, he’s always on the ice. At the age of 43, he’s still durable and is someone that can be relied on. That being said, I don’t think that he’ll be able to come out of this with a championship. The Panthers right now are not on pace to even make the playoffs, but they could make a strong push toward the end of the season. The inexperience of their younger players and the team’s struggles to score goals will eventually lead to their demise, in the playoffs or not.
George: While Jagr is the most senior player in the NHL at the moment, I would say he is nowhere close to being “late” in his career. It’s clear from the length of his career thus far that Jagr loves hockey. So why should he stop playing? I look at Jagr as being a bit like Beowulf. Beowulf was a warrior who loved to fight. His entire purpose consisted of slaying horrendous monsters and horrid beasts, so why stop? He only stopped when a dragon got the best of him, meaning that Jagr will continue to play until he is killed by a dragon in the rink, which will probably not happen for many years to come. In any one of those years, it will be possible for Jagr to pick up another NHL championship -— the more years one plays, statistically it becomes more possible.
Josh: Jaromir Jagr just turned 43, and I think his championship years are behind him. Jagr’s scoring ability has clearly not significantly declined (he had 67 points last season), but his speed has been a victim of time. In the NHL today, teams are trying to get faster, and the games overall reflect that trend. Jagr’s speed has declined ,but his value now lies in his experience. Now a member of the Florida Panthers, Jagr has been playing in the NHL longer than the Panthers franchise has existed, has made the playoffs more times and has scored more points than the top five scorers for the franchise combined. Jagr will now be more valuable to teams who are young and looking for a veteran presence and/or making a push to make the playoffs. The Panthers now and similar teams in the future give Jagr little chance to once again have his name engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Josh gets 3 points for pointing out Jagr’s age. Otto gets 2 points for looking at the Panthers playoff chances, and George gets 1 point for saying Jagr has “many years” left.
3. Since Boxing is returning to NBC, do you think the sport will hit a chord with the mainstream again?
Otto: I think this is the best thing that can happen to boxing. While it makes a ridiculous amount of money on Pay-Per-View because of its die-hard fans, it’s good for the general public to be exposed to the sport. The sport no longer has to appeal to its biggest supporters since they’re a lock. Instead, they can focus on young sports fans who could have the opportunity to watch boxing because it’s on TV again. Maybe it can slowly work itself back to what it once was. You always hear older sports writers reminisce about their childhoods watching the sport and what it meant. At best, it will bring the sport back to the mainstream, and at worst it’ll still have an impact it hasn’t had in years.
George: Definitely. Boxing is one of the most brutal sports, and America’s machismo is in desperate need of a boost. Football is violent, but not violent enough on account of the padding and baseball is pretty much the softest sport imaginable. The American public wants some good ole’ fist-punching, not this padded crap.We’ve got years of pent up frustration fueling this. And there’s nothing like watching two guys beat each other up if you want to vent out your frustration. Or maybe even punch something yourself. Or maybe just sitting down with a therapist and talking about your problems.
Josh: I don’t think boxing will be able to return to as high a level as it was in the age of Ali and Frazier. It has been 40 years since the “Thrilla in Manilla,” and the sport’s popularity has dropped dramatically. One reason why I don’t think boxing will rise to prominence is the generational gap. Many sports fans now do not have a strong connection with the golden age of boxing because many of those fans then have passed away and their passion was not continued in today’s sports fans. The other reason is the big four sports leagues and their cumulative 122 teams across the U.S. and Canada. Nowadays, almost everybody has a favorite team from at least one of these leagues. There is little room or demand for a boxing resurgence in an already crowded sports market.
Otto gets 3 points for looking at the young fans. George gets 2 points because I’m scared he’ll hurt me, and Josh gets 1 point for bringing up the age gap.
Otto wins Around the Dorm 7-6-5.