So unless you’ve been in hiding, or perhaps on a cruise somewhere (or maybe at the Pleasantville Music Festival), you probably know that this guy named Derek Jeter collected his 3000th hit yesterday. As baseball moments know, it’s fairly big. Only two players out of the 28 members of the 3000 hit club have ever hit a home run for the milestone – Wade Boggs in 1999, and Derek Jeter. The fact that Jeter had five hits (only the second player to do that on 3K day, with Craig Biggio being the other) and drove in the game-winning run magnifies it even more.
There’s really no fine line with Jeter. Fans either love him or dislike him. A large number thinks that he is overrated – perhaps the most overrated player in the history of the sport (or sports). As I looked around yesterday, all I could do was laugh at the foolishness of the comments that I read. That was the only way to keep my blood pressure from spiking.
To an extent, I get it. Few players can live up to the pedestal that Jeter has been put on by media and admirers. So he can be considered a touch overrated. But to portray him as some lousy, selfish player is to be uninformed. The guy has only collected 3000 hits (3003 as of the end of yesterday), was the MVP of the 2000 World Series, and has been the centerpiece of a team that has won five championships. Oh yeah, he’s just terrible.
The comments I read ran from “call me when he wins his FIRST MVP. A-Rod has THREE!” to “It’s wonderful for him, but it’s not really newsworthy, in my opinion.”
Wow. Just. Wow.
MVP’s are now the measure of one’s greatness? I don’t have enough space here to say how foolish that concept is, when it’s been proven that award voting leaves a lot to be desired and the right guy doesn’t always win (with Jeter coming in second twice). And by this rationale, Mariano Rivera is just a bum, given his ZERO Cy Young Awards. The same person went on a rant about having the most at-bats and the most games played and “simple math.”
Then there’s the “newsworthy” comment. Three-thousand hits isn’t newsworthy? Since…when? Considering 3000 hits has long been a barometer for almost automatic entry to the Hall of Fame (Rafael Palmiero and Pete Rose notwithstanding), I would say that the first New York Yankee to collect the magic number in the media capital of the world is incredibly newsworthy.
There was more foolishness beyond this, with elements of hating all things Yankees, jealousy and homophobia being at the center of it all. Yet how can fans not see that this guy is what sports is sometimes desperate for? He’s kept himself clean in New York for almost two decades. He’s a reminder that there’s a lot to like about sports.
Jeter, as many have said, can’t be seen purely through his numbers. The hits are a validation, but not a definition. He’s always been known for his…wait for it…intangibles. Hitting, fielding (not as bad as it’s made out to be), base running, durability, leadership, and perhaps most of all, his ability to shine in big moments. “The flip play”, the dive into the stands against the Red Sox, the home run to lead off Game 4 of the 2000 World Series. The game-winning home run against the Diamondbacks in 2001. Just a small sampling of moments that have built a Hall of Fame career. You have to see Jeter on a consistent basis to appreciate him.
The Jeter haters probably need a hobby. For them, yesterday was either miserable, or like Christmas!