In a year when Yankee Captain Derek Jeter has already achieved tremendous individual and team glory, he has the distinct honor of being named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine. Jeter is the first Yankee to win the award, doing it in a year when he set records for most hits by a Yankee and by a shortstop. Just one more honor for a great player headed to the Hall of Fame.
Let's recount this year's accolades for Jeter: Roberto Clemente award, Hank Aaron award, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger. Although he didn't win the Most Valuable Player award, Jeter definitely played like one this year, a key reason for the Yankees successful pursuit of the team's 27th World Series title.
Of course, there are those who will argue with Jeter's selection. In a blog post, Joel Sherman argued that Alex Rodriguez should have gotten the award because of his story of redemption. How Sherman could think that ARod, an admitted steroids user, deserved the award over Jeter, the ultimate role model, is beyond me. Sherman even suggested that Pete Rose and Mark McGwire winning the award set a precedent for an ARod selection. That argument conveniently ignores the fact that both were selected for the award before the scandals that sullied their names came to light. I seriously doubt the SI team would have chosen either one of them if they knew what was coming down the road.
Sherman makes a better case for Mariano Rivera receiving the award and no one could really argue against Mo and Jeter sharing the honor. Jeter probably got the nod over Mo due to the extraordinary success of his Turn 2 Foundation, which has distributed more than $10 million in grants for programs encouraging kids to engage in positive and healthy lives and to stay away from drugs and alcohol. Mo definitely does charitable work, but is not nearly as visible as Jeter.
But anyone who makes the case against Jeter really is wasting their time. It's another well-deserved honor for the Yankee Captain.
Thanks to Chris.ptacek via Wikipedia for the photo.