Peter Jackel: Yelich is truly a breath of fresh air

Peter Jackel: Yelich is truly a breath of fresh air

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A couple thoughts about Derek Jeter:

First, the still anonymous writer who didn’t vote for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame should having his voting privileges revoked. Jeter is sixth all-time in hits (3,465), was an All-Star 14 of his 20 seasons, won five Gold Gloves, owns five World Series championship rings and is the greatest shortstop in baseball history. How could he have not been a unanimous inductee, as former teammate Mariano Rivera was one year earlier?

Derek Jeter mug


Second, the Brewers should dedicate a statue of Jeter on the Miller Park grounds some time this year.

OK, that second point was made in jest, but Jeter was responsible for gift-wrapping to the Brewers someone who may one day be remembered as among the greatest players in baseball history. It was on Jan. 25, 2018 when Jeter, who had been named CEO of the Marlins the previous year, traded Yelich to the Brewers for Lewis Brinson (.183 career batting average) and two other nondescript players.

Think about this: Jeter parted with an emerging player who was just 26 and who was under contractual control for five more seasons at the time of the trade for three players who have amounted to little so far.

And now this too-good-to-be-true scenario has become even more remarkable. Yelich, who might have commanded Mike Trout money ($37 million a year) when he became a free agent after the 2021 season, has agreed to a seven-year extension worth $188 million that will keep him in Milwaukee through 2028.

There are no opt-out clauses, which are so common with contracts these days. Even more stunning, there is a no-trade clause in the contract.

Brewers Yelich Baseball


In other words, Yelich wants to be in Milwaukee, which has historically hardly been a coveted destination for prized free agents.

It’s difficult to think of $188 million as bargain-basement money, but that’s exactly what it is these days.

And Milwaukee has been the recipient of a double dose of this incredible good fortune considering Giannis Antetokounmpo was plucked by the Bucks as a project with the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA draft and developed into the game’s most dominant player.

Antetokounmpo has the freedom to to walk as an unrestricted free agent after this season, but there’s every reason to believe he will remain in Milwaukee. Unlike Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 45 years ago this summer, he doesn’t feel “culturally deprived” in Milwaukee and has developed roots in the city. And the Bucks can offer him a “super-max” contract extension worth $253 million over five years.

It takes good fortune for a city like Milwaukee that is far removed from the bright-lights appeal of major markets. That’s what San Antonio had when they lucked into both David Robinson and Tim Duncan and won five NBA championships.

Yelich is rare talent, indeed. But considering the commitment he made to the Brewers and what he does to help others in life with little fanfare, he is an even more unique individual.

Thank you, Christian Yelich.

Oh, and thank you, Derek Jeter.

It’s hard to argue

An email I received this week from Racine’s Jim O’Brien:

“Here is what’s wrong with sports and baseball in general. Jesus Aguilar, who hit .236 last year, went from a salary of $637,500 to $2,575,000 in arbitration. This why you pay $25 to park and $8 for a beer at most ball parks.”

Tyrese the terrific

Elite high school boys basketball players from Racine County that I’ve seen over the last 41 years in this job include Tim Naegeli, Robert Berryhill, Robert Barnes, Dave Mueller, Scott Wilson, Jim McIlvaine, Caron Butler, Marcus West, Jamil Wilson, Alex Scales, Javan Goodman, Marquise Milton, Kevin Christensen and so many others.

I say without hesitation that St. Catherine’s junior guard Tyrese Hunter is as good as any boys player I have covered in this county. He has maybe the best jump shot I have seen, he has exceptional court vision and he handles the ball with such athleticism.

Making this all the better is Hunter is a polite, respectful young man. You want to see kids like this do well and Hunter shows all the signs of doing just that.

There’s a reason why Marquette became the latest major college program to make an offer to Hunter last week.

By the way, if St. Catherine’s wins four more games, it will become just the fourth county boys team to go undefeated since 1970. The others were St. Catherine’s in 1970-71, Racine Lutheran in 1990-91 and St. Catherine’s in 2005-06.

And St. Catherine’s has the talent to keep this run going for at least another season. While graduating starters Elijah Lambert and Elijah Sabala will be difficult to replace, juniors like Marcel Tyler and Calvin Hunter have been playing quality minutes.

Add them to the returning core of Hunter, Kamari McGee and Jameer Barker and the Angels are going to be a force again next season.


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