Aspirations, short-lived retweet have muddled Soto's definition of loyalty

Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

In baseball, Derek Jeter is known for a multitude of reasons.

No one would have expected philosopher or social influencer would be two of them.

It happened when the New York Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop posted the quote of the week from an episode of “The Captain” — the ESPN documentary series about his career.

Jeter tweeted “Loyalty one way is stupidity” — the back end of the actual quote “I’m very loyal, but …” — late Thursday.

Innocent promotion of his show, right? That and an indication of his conflicted relationship with George Steinbrenner.

But in the hands — or thumbs — of Juan Soto, that partial quote became a short–lived posting that started a wave of social media conjecture.

The suddenly disgruntled Washington Nationals outfielder retweeted Jeter’s words, seemingly as an innocent like.

Nationals right fielder Juan Soto acknowledges the crowd after winning the 2022 Home Run Derby at Dodgers Stadium.
Nationals right fielder Juan Soto acknowledges the crowd after winning the 2022 Home Run Derby at Dodgers Stadium.

As we all know, nothing is ever innocent online. Soto found out quickly.

Automatically, those five words represented disdain for the Nationals and his impasse for a lucrative contract.

Soto’s tweet was quickly deleted — not quickly enough, though. It’s hard to tell if he had a change of heart or if someone among his representatives got him to pull the plug.

That’s because that “one way” quote actually goes two ways.

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It could also question Soto’s loyalty to the Nationals.

At this point, the gloves have come off anyway.

Talks opened congenially as the Nats and Soto — still under contract for 2½ more years — tried to find a way to keep the 23-year-old star and officially make him the post-Ryan Zimmerman “face of the franchise.”

After Soto and his representation shot down deals of high-$300 and then $440 million, as announced by the Nats, it opened the door to trade possibilities.

Everything became contentious over the last two weeks, coming to a head during All-Star Week.

Stories surfaced about how Soto was forced to fly commercial instead of on a charter (gasp) to participate in the Home Run Derby.

See what you stirred up, Derek?

Here’s a good spot to discuss that “loyalty” thing.

These days in professional sports, “loyalty” goes to the highest bidder.

To be honest, there are not many Ryan Zimmermans — who use comfort as currency — out there anymore.

Take that back. One of the few comes to mind … Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez.

Ramirez opened his season by signing a five-year, $124 million extension with the Guardians. In fact, he went against his agent’s advice to take the deal.

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“Because, in reality, I just want my daughter to use only one jacket,” he joked after signing.

OK. Ramirez isn’t the physical specimen or the power machine of Soto. He’s also six years older.

Ramirez probably realized any high-$300 and $440 million offers weren’t in his neighborhood.

But when it comes to his career and what he brings to Cleveland’s franchise, Ramirez has as much impact to his team as Soto has in Washington, according to their statistics over the last 4½ seasons (through the All-Star break).

∎ Soto — 555 games, 536 for 1,924 (.293) hitting, 294 runs, 108 doubles, eight triples, 118 home runs, 355 RBIs, 37 stolen bases, 452 walks, 406 strikeouts, 1,041 total bases.

∎ Ramirez — 583 games, 585 for 2,131 (.275) hitting, 149 doubles, 17 triples, 104 home runs, 412 RBIs, 108 stolen bases, 301 walks, 321 strikeouts, 1,170 total bases.

∎ Accolades — Soto: two-time All-Star; two-time Silver Slugger recipient; three top-10 finishes in MVP voting (second in 2021). He’s also won a batting title, a World Series and this year’s Home Run Derby.

Ramirez: three-time All-Star (four overall); two-time Silver Slugger (three overall); three top-six finishes in MVP voting (second in 2020, third in 2018). He also played in a World Series and has been in the MVP conversation two other times (third in 2017).

Now in his 10th season, Ramirez comparably doubles Soto’s numbers, according to Baseball-Reference, although the Nats outfielder has higher on-base, slugging and OPS percentages.

Ramirez probably could’ve shunned the Guardians and searched for a more lucrative payday from larger — and warmer — environments, but said he had a bucket list for Cleveland.

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It included a World Series title, retiring as a Guardian, having his Guardians jersey retired and representing Cleveland in the Hall of Fame.

“I think, definitely, it would be a lot better if more players did (this),” Ramírez said. “I just kept in mind that organizations are the ones that give you an opportunity when you're a kid and they are the ones that enable you to become a professional player.

“So, for me, I value a lot more having that opportunity to finalize my career and not only play for that team, but finish my career with that organization that gave me a chance to be a player in the first place.”

You have to wonder if that notion ever crossed Soto’s mind?

He has been a media darling and a highly anticipated National for years.

As far back as 2016, then-Hagerstown Suns manager Patrick Anderson warned the media that a phenom named Soto was on the way.

“Juan Soto could be the best who ever played here,” he said back then.

And Soto hasn’t disappointed, until now.

He seems to have tasted the big business Kool-Aid of baseball.

Now, being baseball’s highest-paid player is more important, even though it won’t last long with the way things are going.

One report said the Nats’ $440 million offer was turned down because Soto wouldn’t have a top-100 salary by the time the 15-year proposed deal would end.

Funny. Ramirez seems to want immortality, aiming for a statue next to Bob Feller’s in Cleveland.

That kind of loyalty feels heartwarming — not stupid. It comes with its own set of rewards.

Ask Jeter. He stayed with the Yankees for his whole career.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Parasiliti: Deleted tweet may have shown Soto loyalty is 2-way street