The Texas Rangers' decision to move Michael Young to third base has me convinced: There is a conspiracy surrounding American League shortstops, and I'm tracing it back to everyone's favorite captain, Derek Jeter.
It all started in 1997 when Cal Ripken, Jr. was mysteriously moved to third base.
A 14-time All-Star at this point, Major League Baseball's darling, the most important player to the game, is moved from a position he had been playing in the Majors since 1981—to make way for Mike Bordick?
Please, I'm a Mets fan. I know what Bordick is all about: nothing.
Something wasn't adding up, but there clearly was not enough evidence yet.
Certainly, 1997 is an interesting year for this to happen. Who won the World Series the year before? And who jumped onto the scene? Ah, yes. The Yankees, and 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, Derek Jeter.
Camden Yards is "Yankee Stadium South," after all. Remember the Jaret Wright trade? I think the Orioles are either in cahoots with the Yankees, or they owe the Bronx Bombers some serious favors.
Anyway, around this time, there were three amazing shortstops playing in the AL: Nomar Garciaparra (1997 AL Rookie of the Year), Alex Rodriguez, and Mr. Jeter.
Now you see where I'm going with this. Hang tight.
Omar Vizquel still had a stranglehold on the Gold Glove award at the position, and was even garnering some All-Star Game loving.
Starting in 1997, here's the odd man out of each mid-summer classic for a few years:
1998—Garciaparra, despite finishing second in the MVP voting
2001—Vizquel, Garciaparra (injury)
2002—All four left made the All-Star Team, as did Miguel Tejada. Five shortstops. FIVE. A-Rod started the game. Quite the heavy load just so Joe Torre can justify taking No. 2.
Rodriguez won the Gold Glove in '02 and '03, and Vizquel's career began its downslide, so he fell out of the picture.
Then in 2003, Derek Jeter didn't make the All-Star team. The Yankees finally didn't represent the AL in the World Series the year before. Darn, bad luck for Jeter!
The ensuing offseason, the Yankees made a minor acquisition. They traded Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for shortstop Alex Rodriguez. They moved him to third base.
Garciaparra fell from grace in Boston unusually quick and was traded to the National League in July '04.
Two down, but the Red Sox got their revenge in October.
Jeter enjoyed little competition for "best shortstop in the AL" the next few years. Without Vizquel or A-Rod sharing a mutual position, he won the Gold Glove by default from 2004-2006.
However, Jeter missed the '05 All-Star game, and Miguel Tejada and rising star Michael Young got the nod over him.
I don't know who is behind the conspiracy, but I suspect it's the Steinbrenners. Baltimore already gave into whatever pressure was put on them in 1997, so they weren't prepared to do it again.
Someone started to play dirty when they had to get rid of Tejada. I'm not saying they're behind the Tejada smear-campaign, I'm just saying his fall from shortstop stardom was much uglier than anyone before him. The Mitchell Report (okay, he played in Oakland) and the age controversy were not pretty.
Since when has it taken a face-to-face interview to confront someone about their age? It wasn't the case for Rafael Furcal or Orlando Hernandez.
So now we get to Michael Young. Five straight All-Star appearances, the 2008 AL Gold Glove award winner at shortstop, and two years younger than Jeter, now the best shortstop in the AL.
He's also the poster child for everything right in the league. A less-crazy version of Tim Tebow, perhaps.
The conspirators have several tricks up their sleeves, so this one probably involves calling in a favor for taking A-Rod, a clubhouse cancer, off their hands a few years back.
"Hey, Texas Rangers, remember that time we took A-Rod from you and haven't won the World Series since then?"
"Well you kinda owe us for that. Move Michael Young to third base."
"Just tell them you have a prospect who is gonna tear it up at the Major League level."
So, Texas Rangers, enjoy Elvis Andrus, the second coming of Mike Bordick!
Yankee fans, enjoy another undeserved All-Star appearance and Gold Glove for Jeter.
And to the Steinbrenners, or whoever is in charge of this operation, please don't hunt me down
and kill me. Even though I've figured out your diabolical plan, I won't tell anyone.