When I sat down to write this, I had the intention to do something more logical, something more grounded, something a little more comprehensive in which I gave more than lip-service to Derek Jeter‘s decline and shortcomings. Well, I figured I could put that stuff away for at least one weekend.
Yep, Derek Jeter is in the middle of decline. Yep, he’s not as good as he once was. And for this past weekend, I didn’t care. At all.
I was not in front of a TV, or even within earshot of a radio when Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit off of David Price on Saturday afternoon. My girlfriend and I were sitting on the beach in Atlantic City, sporadically checking our phones for updates on the game. We saw via At Bat that Jeter singled in the first for hit 2,999. I made a mental note for us to check in the future, then went swimming. When I came back, I checked TweetDeck on my phone, since I know that all you would be able to tell me what happened. And, sure enough, I saw someone Tweet that they couldn’t believe Jeter actually did it on a home run. I nearly dropped my phone as I twisted to tell Liz “He hit a home run! He hit a home run!” We smiled like crazy, repeating how we felt so happy for Jeter and all those traditional niceties. We watched the replay on my phone and we kept smiling, laughing, and expressing disbelief.
As a 24 year old, I came to realize the game of baseball around the time Derek Jeter was breaking out in his Rookie of the Year winning season in 1996. I’m not ashamed to say that Derek Jeter is very responsible for the fact that I’m as big a baseball fan as I am. For that time, he and Alex Rodriguez have been my absolute favorite players in the game–though I always tried to replicate Bernie Williams‘ stance. I was in attendance for the latter’s 500th home run in August of 2007 and nothing I’ve seen live at a baseball game has meant more to me. The only thing that would’ve beaten it would have been to see Jeter’s 3,000th hit live (non-World Series clincher division). Well, I obviously wasn’t there, but it still meant just as much to me. Even a day or two after, I still find myself sporting a goofy smile when I see replays of the home run off of David Price or begin to talk about it.
What I like most about Jeter getting his 3000th hit is the fact that it is a tangible accomplishment. There are times when I get frustrated with the coverage of Derek Jeter (h/t to friend of the blog Bexy for this bit of inspiration). Derek Jeter has been a fantastic hitter for his career. He is not a great player because of his hustle. He is not a great player because of his “leadership” or other intangible things. Derek Jeter is a great player, and someone I’ll always root for, because he has been very good at hitting a baseball for the majority of his career, especially considering the position he plays. By all accounts, Jeter’s a good enough guy and a good role model, but that’s not why I look up to him. That’s not why I’ve rooted for him. I’ve rooted for him because for most of the last 16 years, he’s been a damn good baseball player.
Congratulations, Derek Jeter.
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