We’re going to hear (already have in some cases) a lot of talk today about Derek Jeter that has nothing to do with celebrating his career. The “Jeter was overrated!” camp and “Jeter is one of the best shortstops and best Yankees ever!” camp have already weighed in on social media. Here are my two cents:
I usually – not always, but usually – try to avoid “overrated” discussions as there’s just too many variables and too much subjectivity involved. That said, calling someone with 71.3 WAR and 3,465 hits overrated is a bit of a stretch. OK, he’s not as monumentally great as some people claim, he’s merely frigging’ great? Come on, man, you’re picking fly shit out of pepper.
Although I will say his reputation as being a team first, it’s only about winning, leader is by and large bullshit. Having a not so secret ostracization of a player as important to your team as ARod was is just childish. The team needing to ask the best shortstop of all time, who was probably the best defensive shortstop in the league at the time, to switch positions to accommodate a lesser defender’s ego was nonsense – a team first leader would have volunteered to switch positions (as Aaron Judge would do a few years later when Giancarlo Stanton was acquired).
Similarly, Don Mattingly went to Buck Showlater when Mattingly was no longer Mattingly to tell Buck he didn’t need to keep batting the Captain third in the order out of a sense of obligation or deference to the Captain – especially when this guy O’Neill was hitting frozen ropes all over the field. Jeter? He was demonstrably was of the worst hitters in the league in 2014, played in 145 games and batted first or second in every one of them – hell, he even DHd 14 times! Man, that’s a lot of things, but team first isn’t one of them.
All of that said, I think we all have a tendency to miss the point and ask the wrong questions. Is he overrated or underrated, was he selfish or a team leader, is all coffee table trivial chatter. The important question is “Do you think Derek Jeter is without question a clear cut, no doubt, first ballot Hall of Famer?”
If you don’t think the answer is “yes” to that question, you my dear reader, may need to reevaluate a few things. Cutting back on narcotics perhaps, trying cricket fandom instead of baseball fandom, I don’t know I’m not a psychiatrist. Because regardless of what you think when the name “Derek Jeter” comes up, he is without question a Hall of Famer who should be celebrated today.
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