For Derek Jeter, a Hall of Fame Induction Without the Fans

Cooperstown’s annual outdoor celebration was canceled last year and will be held at a private indoor ceremony this year because of logistical concerns related to the pandemic.
The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony is that rarest of major events: free to spectators, with no strict capacity. The price you pay is in the effort to get to Cooperstown, N.Y., a quaint upstate village by Otsego Lake. The reward is a spot on a field beside the Clark Sports Center, with the greatest players in history gathered on a stage.

But with that setting comes a problem the Hall of Fame cannot solve. For the second consecutive year, there will be no induction ceremony open to fans. Last year’s event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Hall announced on Friday that this year’s will be moved to an indoor Cooperstown location as a “television event” on MLB Network — with no fans allowed.

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What was once expected to be a record crowd for the induction of Derek Jeter, the longtime Yankees captain, will now be no crowd at all. Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller — the 2020 class — will be honored on July 25, with only friends and invited guests allowed to watch in person.

“It’s very tough with some of the logistics,” Tim Mead, the Hall of Fame’s president, said by telephone from Cooperstown on Friday. “It’s a lot of territory, and because it’s not ticketed, it’s not like the venues that are opening up, where there’s assigned seats and you can make plans and say it’s a party of three or four or whatever. That would just be very problematic with our infrastructure in order to keep it here in Cooperstown.”
Moving the ceremony out of Cooperstown — perhaps to an outdoor venue with a controlled seating arrangement — had little appeal for a hidebound institution. Even without fans, the bucolic setting is a destination for returning Hall of Famers and a seemingly irreplaceable part of the event.
“The history is here in Cooperstown,” Mead said. “That’s part of what the members of the Hall of Fame family look forward to. It affords them the opportunity to do other things, aside from just the ceremony itself.”

The Hall of Fame’s other awards — for baseball writing, broadcast excellence and lifetime achievement — are traditionally presented the day before the induction ceremony at Doubleday Field, a small ballpark just a long home run down Main Street. Those awards, including one for the longtime sportscaster Al Michaels, will also be presented indoors this year.
If the Hall of Fame had opted to stage any events outdoors — or to hold its annual parade, which was also canceled — it could have tempted fans to make the trip, even if just for a distant glimpse of Jeter and the other stars. While the museum is open at 25 percent capacity (about 400 visitors at a time), the hope is to discourage the usual flood of tourists squeezing into a small village at the same time.
“It’s just not fair to the community to put ourselves in that position,” Mead said.

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The Hall of Fame said it would follow all New York State health guidelines in staging the event. The baseball writers, unwittingly, did their part to keep attendance down: No players gained the required 75 percent for election last month, assuring no newcomers to an especially limited gathering.
Czech superstar Karolina Pliskova has been knocked out of the Australian Open by countrywoman Karolina Muchova on Saturday afternoon.

The former world No. 1 suffered a straight sets 7-5, 7-5 defeat at Rod Laver Arena, highlighted by a cataclysmic meltdown in the second set.

Pliskova is renowned for her temperament and composure, but she showed signs of frustration during the third round encounter in Melbourne Park.

In the first set, Pliskova smashed her racquet after a double fault which gifted Muchova a critical break of serve, and was promptly awarded a code violation from British umpire Alison Hughes.

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The 28-year-old was handed a second code violation after breaking another racquet in the tunnel during a break in play, thinking she was out of sight.
Pliskova confronted the umpire: “I can do what I want off court!”

Hughes replied: “Yes, but you’re still not allowed to do it.”

Pliskova asked: “Why not? Off-court I can do what I want! Somebody saw me or what?”

Hughes responded: “The line umpire reported it, yes.”

Incredibly, Muchova found herself 0-5 down in the second set, but won the following seven games to claim an unlikely victory.
Pliskova hit 40 unforced errors with only 23 winners, and it has now been more than two years since she reached the quarterfinal of a grand slam tournament.

The number six seed’s exit is the latest in a series of shock upsets in the women’s draw during the first week in Melbourne, with reigning champion Sofia Kenin knocked out on Thursday.

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“I thought she just played little bit better at this moment,” Pliskova said after the loss.

“Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it’s quite tough to hold this level for longer time. I was going for, like, big shots.

“The feeling was not great from any of the matches here. Some were little bit better, some were little bit worse.

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“I think overall, too many mistakes, too much like panic in the rallies. I don’t feel safe with anything that I was really doing on the court.”