In Defense Of Derek Jeter… Again.
Believe me, I know the reality of the situation. Derek Jeter is a soon to be 37 year old shortstop whose prime years are clearly behind him. The Grade 1 sprain of his right calf has landed the Yankee shortstop on the Disabled List for the first time since 2003. It was probably a foregone conclusion as well as the best decision, despite the Capitan’s protests.
While I understand the natural decline of a player as well as the sentiment that the Yankees were paying far too much for the aging shortstop who is hitting .260. I disagree with just tossing an all-time great aside in the pursuit of championships. Derek Jeter is a winner. He always has been a winner. He always will be a winner. It is those “intangibles” which people always speak so highly of, as well as his leadership skills, that make Derek Jeter so valuable to the Yankees.
Sure he’s not the .330 hitter he’s been in the past. But as Jeter approaches 3,000 hits, it should be noted that both Cal Ripken Jr. and Craig Biggio both had batting averages in the. 260s when they reached the 3,000 hit plateau. And both are icons in their respective cities just as Jeter is in New York.
Those players may have been given more leeway than Jeter because of where they played. That is to say, where they didn’t play… In The Bronx. It is no secret that the Yankees mantra is to win a World Series Championship every year. This causes some fans to cast aside player loyalty in pursuit of said championships. But Derek Jeter has given alot to this organization, and his unselfish, team first mentality is a rare attitude in modern day sports.
It is this attitude that, yesterday, was so wrongly perceived as selfish by Michael Kay and Don La Greca of The Michael Kay show on 1050 ESPN New York. Their argument was that by Jeter not wanting to go on the 15 Day Disabled List, even if he wouldn’t be available until the 15th day, he was thinking only of himself and not the team. Especially when they are preparing for a six game Interleague road trip in which they will lose the Designated Hitter position.
Players jobs are to play. They want to play, they don’t want to be taken out of the lineup. Jeter was doing what Jeter does. He wants to compete and help his team win. If it’s a logistical matter of who to carry on the roster and why… well, that’s the manager’s job. I’m sure if Jeter was quoted in the interview as saying that he hoped to land on the Disable List so he could heal, there would be reports in the media about how he is only thinking about himself and is succumbing to the pressure of not living up to the lofty expectations placed on him. And that he is further “stealing” the Steinbrenner’s money. It is a ridiculious argument. But no more ridiculous than the one posed by Kay and La Greca yesterday afternoon.
Again, a player’s job is to play. To compete and want to win. No one wants to that more than Derek Jeter. And if anyone fails to see that after what, to this point, is a 17 year Hall of Fame career; Then, you haven’t been paying attention to what Derek Jeter is all about.
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