With his second inning single against Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox this past Sunday night, New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter passed Hall of Famer Babe Ruth on the all-time Yankees hit list for the number one spot. With his accomplishment, Jeter is in prime position to reach the 3,000-hit plateau next season which would put the proverbial rubber stamp on his induction to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Congratulations to Derek Jeter on his achievement. But I get the feeling that others are not so eager to give the man his due.
I just finished reading Filip Bondy's article in today's (August 9th) New York Daily News titled Celebrate the captain but his feat is far from Ruthian and it left me with a nasty taste in my mouth. Here's a glimpse of one such paragraph:
You don't measure Ruth in singles or doubles. It just diminishes the legend. And you don't measure Jeter, the steady captain, against Ruth, the eclectic, magnificent Sultan of Swat. You measure him against Phil Rizzuto, Maury Wills, Luis Aparicio and maybe Cal Ripken Jr.
I'm sure Derek Jeter would humbly say that even he would not be up to par with those players Bondy measured but we aren't talking about some scrub. This is a player that day in and day out plays with the determination that we, as fans, wish all baseball players played in. Even the most die-hard Boston Red Sox fan respects him for his leadership, his poise and his accomplishments. Even I haven't been the biggest Jeter fan in the world, but I know that even though he isn't the best player at his position offensively and defensively, he has something that most players wished they had: fortitude, consistency, respect, clutch timing...should I go on? But to disrespect Jeter by basically undermining his passing of Ruth on the list by saying that comparing Jeter to Ruth is like comparing "Apples to Apple IPods " is just wrong.
No one can compare them since both players are different kind of players who played in different eras. For Bondy to say that even though Jeter has one more championship than Ruth he trails the Babe by 481 homers and 94 pitching victories shows how much of a jackass he really is. Ruth doesn't need anyone to defend his place in the game of Baseball. He was a giant among men during his days on the field. Ruth's effect on the game is still felt today and will always be felt but Bondy should not sweep aside Jeter because of it.
Barring any major injury, Jeter will reach and surpass the 3,000-hit mark and be in position to challenge Pete Rose's all-time hit mark of 4,256. Will that mean that Jeter is better than Rose? No, it means that Jeter played the game to the point that he felt he was still productive enough to reach Rose. Is he a failure or less of a player if he doesn't surpass Rose? Not at all. Which is why I believe that Bondy's attempt to prop up Babe Ruth is asinine since Babe Ruth only needs that massive piece of lumber that he used to knock 714 homers out of the park to prop him up. His place is never in doubt no matter how many players pass him on the homers list and the Yankees all-time hit list. Bondy can have his opinion like anyone else. Baseball and the comparison between players and eras can bring these opinions out in a rabid fashion time and time again. I think that in this case, since there is no point to compare there is also no point for insult since Jeter is a quality and unselfish player and has been so for his entire career.
Celebrate Jeter for his loyalty in an era of loyalty-less free agency. Celebrate him for his consistency in an era tainted by the shroud of steroid abuse. Celebrate him for his poise and character in an era of selfishness, boorishness and egotism. Celebrate Captain Derek Jeter as the all-time New York Yankees hit leader without strings and conditions. Don't undermine him by comparing him to the closest thing Baseball has to a deity. It is just not fair. Jeter gives it his all for his team and their fans. We owe him the same in return.