Harking back to my column written last month, I am here to pledge my allegiance to Derek Jeter. Given the fact that the Yankees are officially out of the hunt for October (or now, November?), it is time to make some moves. One such move that the Yankees should not make is unloading the Jeter. And yes, he is THE Jeter, mainly because of all he has done for the most storied franchise in MLB history.
“Derek is a lot like Cal [Ripken] because he represents all that our society aspires to be and what our game aspires to be. He takes his job seriously. He goes to work everyday and he does it with pride for his franchise and for his city.” This quote is from Brian Cashman, general manager of the Yankees, who has Jeter’s destiny in the palms of his 2010 World Series ring-less hands. Jeter has always represented everything that a “Yankee” should. In the truest sense of the word, a “yankee” is a slang term for an American. Amongst other traits, being an American involves being proud, determined, optimistic, resilient, classy and powerful. Throughout his years, Derek has been all of the above, and more.
Mr. November, Mr. October, Captain Clutch, DJ — call him what you want, but he will always be the constant professional, a sort of golden pillar others try to measure up to. You cannot blame my love for the man; everyone else feels the same. There exists countless quotes from fans of all types, including Michael Jordan, Daryl Strawberry and Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson, singing his praises. His work ethic is unparalleled. Jeter has been working overtime since he was a kid in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he was named High School Player of the Year while owning a .600 batting average, to his home in the Bronx, where he is looking to ring in another year in pinstripes.
As I touched on in my earlier column, Jeter’s skills are fading. In fact, this past year has been his worst in almost all facets of the game — batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and even fielding. You know what I say? Big deal, it happens to everyone. ESPN’s Major League Baseball resident expert, Tim Kurkjian, has reported that Jeter has been reaching out to various hitting and fielding coaches to help him change up his game, utilizing the strengths he has left, and hiding the weaknesses. This is what all the greats have had to do, for example, with Jordan turning into a post-up player instead of a one-on-one face-up master.
The thing is Derek doesn’t need to pull in the huge bucks in regards to his salary. He is the only player in baseball who pulls in $9 million on the reg with his endorsements with Gatorade, Nike, Ford Motors and Gillette. He doesn’t exactly need the $22 million annually he is receiving from the Steinbrenners. What Derek Jeter needs, and what the rest of America wants, is for him to keep wearing those pinstripes. It goes best with his sparkling white teeth.
Daily Nexus MLB columnist Julia Speace is a little biased because she likes her men tall, dark and handsome.