Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Derek Jeter Confusion

Derek Jeter.  Some of the most iconic moments in Major League Baseball over the last 15 years included him.  Who can forget the dive into the stands to catch the foul pop against the Red Sox back 2004, or the relay flip against the Athletics in the 2001 ALCS?  Who can forget all of the clutch hits including the Jeffrey Maier flyout.  Derek Jeter is one of the most iconic baseball players of the modern era.

Derek Jeter.  But there is flip side to this.  Forget about the backlash by Internet contrarians and the ridiculous rant by Keith Olbermann.  The statistics show that he was a good but not great hitter.  He never led the league in batting average, on base percentage or OPS.  He led the league in hits twice and runs once.  Conversely, he led the league in plate appearances 5 times.  He never hit more than 25 home runs and drove in more than 100 runs once in his career.  His fielding was below average despite his 5 Gold Glove Awards.  Rarely was he the best player on his team, instead, he was benefited by his longevity, it appears.

Derek Jeter.  It's a tough one to decide where I fall on the Derek Jeter Confusion.  Let's face it.  He spent 20 years with the most famous and successful baseball team of the last 20 years.  His most iconic moments would never have happened if he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Kansas City Royals.  In other words he was a product of his circumstances not the cause of it.  For that, this retirement is a non-story.  The logical side of my brain is telling me that I shouldn't care.

But yet here I am watching his last two games as a New York Yankee.  The emotional side is making me care about this.  You would figure that the Red Sox and Yankees playing each other at the end of September would actually mean something, but instead both teams were out of playoff contention.  These last games mean absolutely nothing, yet you can't get into the game tomorrow for less than $200 per ticket.

Re2pect.  Derek Jeter is getting a lot of respect these days.  Gatorade and Nike have both come out with their own version of Derek Jeter tributes.  Every park Jeter goes to he is greeted by cheering fans and gifts from teams.  Memorabilia featuring Jeter's likeness is selling for hundreds and thousands of dollars.  And the respect extends to the JMR household.

C and I both have different things going on today.  When I get home, he and a buddy are watching the game that I had DVRed.  I sit down and ask him to rewind to Jeter's at bats.  It doesn't really matter that he strikes out and chops an infield single to Short.  I wanted to get chills watching the fans (mostly Yankee fans now) cheer Jeter and break out the "Der-ek Je-ter" chant.  That what we really wanted to see.  Who cares if he gets a hit or strikes out.  I mean they even trot out David Ortiz to talk about the Captain. 

I then turn to C and tell him "This can be you if you work hard at baseball."

He just laughed and shook his head.  RE2PECT.

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