Future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter is set to play the final game of his career at Yankee Stadium on Thursday September 25th. The New York Times noted that while baseball is a “statistics-happy” game that tracks many stats (including Jeter’s 2,734 games; 3,450 regular-season hits; 11,119 at bats), a statistic that remains untracked is the total number of times that Jeter swung his bat.
A swing. The most singular unit of effort possible in the sport of baseball. A swing. The perfect expression of individual exertion against the physical world. A swing. The embodiment of human will in the arena of sport not despite it’s mundanity but because of it.
So then, how many swings?
The Times approaches it systematically: Jeter averages two swings for each at bat; he takes about 60 swings warming up for each game; on average Jeter swings 99 times for each of his 3,450 regular season hits; and you also have to factor in preseason, postseason, spring training, and his years in the minor league. Adding all this together over 20 years, the Times estimates Jeter has swung 342,000 times.
But what of the other uncounted mundane moments? What of the other single stitches that alone are trivial pieces of thread but that when connected hold baseball itself together?
Consider another constitutive element of baseball: sunflower seeds. How many bags of sunflower seeds did Jeter consume in his career? Let’s say that Jeter averaged one bag of David brand sunflower seeds per game. At 2,725 games played, that would mean that (approximately) Jeter has consumed 2,725 bags of David brand sunflower seeds. Give or take. Plus or minus. Margin of error. Numbers like this really put the span of this impressive career in perspective.
Or what about another bodily act that occurs in every dugout and locker room: farts. How many times has Derek Jeter farted during his 20 years in the majors? To be clear, we’re not talking about private personal farts at home or wet sloppy vacation farts while at the beach in a swimsuit. We’re talking about big league pro baseball farts. If Derek Jeter is anything like me, anytime he exerts himself at all he lets out a little toot. So, assuming that a swing is a baseline level of exertion, we can just use the data that the Times collected as a baseline and estimate that Jeter has farted 342,000 times while swinging. But you also have to take into account the farts for when he was farting while fielding or farting during the ceremonial singing of the National Anthem or farting while taking a leak between innings and stuff. So, I dunno, let’s just say Jeter has farted 1 million baseball farts. Talking about swings and not farts, Jeter’s teammate Mark Teixeira said, “If you had told me it was a million, I wouldn’t have been surprised.” Again, Teixeira was talking about swings, but he might as well have been talking about farts.
Or what about the quotidian aspects of a career in professional baseball that come with the level of fame of sport legends like Jeter? Namely, how many people has Derek Jeter given herpes to? Jeter has slept with more celebrities than most average men have masturbated to, including but not limited to: Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, Bridget Hall, Lara Dutta, Joy Enriquez, Jordana Brewster, Vanessa Minnillo, Vida Guerra, Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel, Rachel Uchitel, Minka Kelly, and Hannah Davis. We know that these celebrities have also slept with other celebrities who themselves, being celebrities, get to sleep with lots of people. Given the transitive property of mathematics/STIs, we can credit Jeter for infecting these people as well. And assuming that in addition to celebrities, Jeter had a similar sexual civilian career to Wilt Chamberlain (Wilt “The Stilt” claimed to have slept with over 20,000 women), we can safely estimate that Jeter has given herpes to 342,000 people.
Swings. Seeds. Farts. Herpes. Baseball. Statistics are just numbers. They don’t ever tell the whole story. But seen holistically, stats can help to illuminate the impact of a player, a career, a life. And while the total number of swings of a baseball bat during Jeter’s MLB career will stop ticking upward after 20 years later this season, Jeter’s flesh bat (his penis) will keep swinging out herpes to all who want it for years to come.