After watching the MLB All-Star game, I thought today’s blog just had to be about Derek Jeter. Since everybody and his uncle are going to be lauding The Captain, his performance and retirement, I wanted to pen (or whatever it’s called now) something with a little more personal touch. The following is a blog I posted on, appropriately, 7/11/11.
My mother’s side of our family was from Brooklyn. A couple of my older cousins took me to Ebbets Field when I was four years old. My father, a Yankees fan, always claimed I had been brainwashed. The family next door had three boys close to my age who loved the Yankees. As big fans of the Bronx Bombers as I was of the Dodgers. Between the ages of, say, 6-12, we had the normal types of arguments kids that age have. The ones which are based on emotion, whether the facts back your side or not. Duke was better than The Mick; nobody was better than Sandy.
Unlike the true fan, my interest faded when I started playing ball in high school. I immersed myself in my teams and, while I still followed the Dodgers, I was no longer a fanatic. The older I got, the less attention I paid toward my childhood favorites. Yet, I still hated the Yankees. To me, they just stood for . . . too much. Too much winning, too much money, too many stars, too much Steinbrenner.
My hatred waned when Joe Torre became the manager. I’d always liked Joe as a player - thought he was a classy guy and, later in my life, enjoyed reading his book. Plus, coaching basketball in college consumed my life. I just couldn’t find the time for any team other than the one which was providing me a living. Which is problem to be discussed at another time.
This stroll down memory lane has a point. I’ve been reflecting on how I think I would have felt had Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit when I was a kid. Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, forgetting how immature my thoughts and feelings were at that time but if ever there was a role model, a team player, a true good guy, Jeter is about as close a candidate as exists. Consider the social media of today and how Jeter has avoided the controversy most superstars of his ilk have been subjected to. Maybe Jeter isn’t squeaky clean but, remember, when I was a kid, Yankees fans were idolizing their guys in pinstripes - without any idea what Whitey, Mickey and Billy were doing in between games or after they ended. Sometimes, before they started.
200 hits/year is usually the standard for a great hitter. That means to get to 3000, a player would have to accomplish that for 15 years. And there has never been a hint of scandal on or off the field with Jeter. So maybe he is as good as he appears to be. Kids, or adults, can argue against the greatness of Derek Jeter, but they need to reminded:
“The worst part of an argument is when you get to the point where you realize you’re wrong.”