Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rant #1,248: Jeter's Night

Make no mistake about it: tonight, Major League Baseball's All-Star Game is about one person--

Derek Jeter.

Some argue that Jeter shouldn't even be there.

He is having a below-par season after sitting out most of the 2013 season with injury.

His team, the Yankees, in plain English, stink to high heaven (and that is coming from a true Yankees fan).

So why is Jeter not only at the All-Star Game, but a starter, no less?

It has to do with what he represents, which is more than his statistics.

The fans voted him into the game because he is the last of a breed of baseball star, or maybe even sports star.

He comes from a very visible two-parent family who evidently brought him up the right way.

They still attend many of his games, almost as if they were Little League parents.

His parents are both educators, and I will bet when they told him to take out the garbage, he took out the garbage.

One white, one black, he is an everyman for all people.

Jeter has been completely free of scandal during his career, free of talk that he took this or did that.

The only thing he has done, generally, during his long career with the Yankees is win.

He has five World Series championship rings to prove it.

He was the anchor of those great teams. Without him, they wouldn't have won as much as they have.

He is as All-American as Jack Armstrong, even more so because he is real.

He was never the best player on the field, but he was always the smartest, and that counts for a lot.

And that is why he is in the All-Star game, and why fans voted him in as a starter.

He is the All-American dream rolled up into one player, a kid who idolized the Yankees while growing up and then plays for them.

He was born in New Jersey, but lived most of his young life in Michigan, but that did not dampen his Yankees spirit.

He is the last of the Core Four to play the game, and probably the best player of that bunch.

This scenario reminds me of when Mickey Mantle was done as a player in 1968.

He was hitting in the .230s, couldn't really play anymore, but was in the All-Star game anyway.

This is before the fans voted for players, which began again the next year (it had been done earlier, but was abandoned when ballot-stuffing in certain cities was found to be the case).

Anyway, I forget who the manager was, but he was asked why Mantle was on the team at this juncture in his career.

He answered something to the effect, "Because everyone wants to see him one last time in an All-Star Game."

And that was all that had to be said then about Mantle, and all that has to be said now about Jeter.

Play ball!

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