Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Derek Jeter more popular than ever

The New York Yankees may not like Derek Jeter all that much, but everyone else just loves him.

More evidence of the Jeter love: that #2 jersey, the one that will be retired to Monument Park one day, was the best-selling jersey in 2010. To put this in context, Albert Pujols, widely considered to be the best player in baseball these days, was #6 on the list. This news comes a week after Jeter was voted the greatest New York athlete, ahead of one George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

And why not? Jeter is the perfect role model for kids and the best spokesman baseball could have. He does everything he can think of to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol. He lives his life quietly and respectfully with no major off-the-field controversies. The only mark on Jeter's character, if one can even call it a negative, is that he was quite the player in his youth although he seems to have settled down with the same woman for years now. People look up to Derek Jeter, as they should.

All the Jeter love makes me once again question why the Yankees felt the need to drag him through the mud this offseason and continue to belittle him this spring, courtesy of Hank Steinbrenner's infamous mansions dig and the off-the-record slights at his skills as a leadoff man. Maybe the Yankees are tired of or annoyed by all the Jeter love. I definitely could see a little jealously in Hank’s remarks.

The Yankees have one of the most celebrated athletes in baseball, and really in all sports, and they should be incredibly grateful and honoring him instead of taking regular shots at their iconic shortstop. One way they can do that is by planning the mother of all celebrations for the day he gets hit #3,000, a party to celebrate a truly historic moment both for Jeter and for the Yankees. Jeter would probably hate the attention, but the love he's going to get at that magical moment will show the Yankees what the rest of the world already knows: Jeter is more popular than ever.

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