I’ve been known to rip the Yankees, and I believe I’m right. They win because they spend and spend and spend and spend. If you do that, inevitably it’ll go right. Other teams sign a Jaret Wright or a Kei Igawa and they’re crippled for years. The Yanks do so and, eh, whatever. We’ll just buy other guys.
I digress. What I want to say here is that, while I often find the team’s tactics sub-righteous, I have great appreciation for Derek Jeter, the man I truly believe will go down as the second coming of Joe DiMaggio.
Like DiMaggio, Jeter doesn’t crave the spotlight. Like DiMaggio he is guarded and, often, intentionally dull. Much like DiMaggio, Jeter’s numbers don’t leap off the stat sheets, especially in the modern era of inflated numbers. Though Joltin’ Joe is rightly thought of as an eternal legends, his Baseball Reference page compares him most closely to men like Vlad Guerrero, Larry Walker and Chuck Klein. Why, eighth on the Similarity Score meter to DiMaggio is Moises Alou. Moises Alou!?
When Jeter is done, he’ll almost certainly have more than 3,000 hits and a batting average exceeding .300. He might even have 300 homersâ€”though that’s kind of unlikely (he has 224 as we speak, and the power will certainly drop off when he approaches his late 30s). But his numbersâ€”save for hitsâ€”won’t explode the retina. You’ll look, you’ll nod, you’ll be impressed. But then you’ll see Alex Rodriguez and Manny and even Ryan Howard and you’ll think, “Meh.”
What Jeter boasts, however, is aura. He walks it. He exudes it. More than any professional athlete I’ve ever seen or covered. He has Michal Jordan’s regal texture, but without the insufferable arrogance. He has Tiger Woods’ audience, but does more with it. He’s quick with a smile, a laugh, a kind word.
He’s not especially fun to cover, because he says little. But how can’t you appreciate the man?