First of all, congratulations to Derek Jeter for not only collecting his 3000th career hit today, but also getting 3001, 3002, and 3003 while he was at it. He accomplished the feat in the same way he has played his entire career. He has always been very good at all aspects of the game, and has had the uncanny ability to produce on the biggest stages in the most tense of situations. Therefore, it is little wonder that with all the hoopla swirling around regarding his decline this year, and his march to the 3000 hit milestone, that he should come through in true Jeter fashion by surging past the 3000 barrier. Now that the event has occurred, it really doesn’t surprise me that not only was his 3000th hit a home run, but that he threw in a 5 hit game for good measure.
I am a Red Sox fan, and have seen many Yankee players through the years who I can’t stand. Jeter is not one of them. One of the Yankee players I loathe, Alex Rodriguez, seems to intentionally do things to make himself look like a bigger tool to Boston fans. The things he has done over the years, from yelling at fielders trying to catch a pop-up to the steroids controversy, have prevented him from becoming respected in the way that Jeter is. Rodriguez is definitely more talented than Jeter, but is inept in all the little things that Jeter excels in, which makes him such a great example for baseball.
I have a secret to share with you. Although Derek Jeter is one of the most popular targets for legions of taunting Boston Red Sox fans, I don’t believe that most of them really mean it. When you look at the sum total of his career, how can you truly root against him? The man succeeds in disgustingly consistent ways, and has always done so with grace and class. His good fortune in life is the stuff of mythic proportions. When his career ends, he will have made close to a quarter of a billion dollars in baseball salary. He was a first round draft choice of the most famous American sports franchise ever, and has consistently won championships with them, while putting up first class personal stats. Even off the field Jeter wins. He has dated a steady string of beautiful starlets and singers, while never once making an appearance in the papers for questionable or morally reprehensible behavior. Anyone who roots against him does so because if he is not on your team, that is all you can do. It is a sign of respect for a man with few visible flaws. He just does everything well. I remember years back when I heard he would be hosting Saturday Night Live, and thought to myself it was going to be bad like most other athlete-hosted episodes. Instead, Jeter absolutely killed and proved that you should never doubt that he can do something. Jeter has led a charmed life that seems impossible to most people, and all you can really do is embrace him for being freakishly good at everything or just be jealous.
Jeter’s unpopularity with Red Sox fans is popular in and of itself. There are probably more “Jeter Sucks!” t-shirts out there than 99% of Boston players will ever have of their own regular issues. Although I may have to turn in my Red Sox fan membership card, I will say that any fan who says they actually dislike Jeter, they do not deserve to be a baseball fan. Jeter may not be the best player to ever play the game, but he is the total package of skill, charm, and off-field presence that goes back to the likes of Mantle, Ruth, and Musial. The baseball world is lucky to have him and it was good to see him get his big achievement in such a spectacular way.