Tagged: Derek Jeter

The Greatness of Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter will prove most people wrong and have a great 2014.  Image:  nydailynews.com

Derek Jeter will prove most people wrong and have a great 2014. Image: nydailynews.com

On Wednesday, it was announced that Derek Jeter would return to the disabled list and not return for the rest of the season.  The captain of the New York Yankees played in only 17 games this season with the major culprit being the ankle injury he suffered in last season’s American League Championship Series.  The same ankle has now shut him down for good at least as far as 2013 season goes.  However, in listening to his press conference on Wednesday we were reminded just why Derek Jeter is great.

As I was driving home from work, his voice had my complete attention.  He jabbed at reporters who wanted to know if he was retiring.  He is a ballplayer and his job is to go out there every day and play.  He doesn’t think about retiring or looking ahead,  his focus is on that day’s game and the current season.  I can’t quote every single thing he said so perhaps the link found here can help you out.  The bottom line is that I believed every word he said.  When he says he will work out to be ready for 2014, I believe he will work out like a mad man and come back and hit .310 with 185 hits and 90 runs scored.  At 40 years old and a year away from the game, that sounds like wishful thinking.  I won’t be the one to doubt him.  You would be foolish to think it can’t happen; you don’t think Jeter will be fueled by all of the naysayers who insist he hang it up?

Those doubters have plenty of company when it comes to knocking Jeter.  You know, the ones who say he is the most overpaid player in the game.  Or the ones who state that using XYZ metric, he is the worst defensive shortstop in baseball.  Let us settle this once and for all.  Derek Jeter is an all-time great.  Yes, I said it.  He is 9th on the all time hits list.  Go ahead, tell me that is not a big deal.  There have been thousands of men who have played Major League Baseball and only eight players have more hits.  As far as his defense goes, maybe he is not flashy enough for some but he makes every single play.  Tell me, when is the last time you saw him make a bad throw?  Never?  Does he not go into the hole on a backhand and throw the runner out at first every single time?  It amazes that a guy who is so great, who every dad could tell his child, “play the game like him” who at times can be so maligned.

The greatness of Derek Jeter goes beyond the baseball field.  It is his class, his ability to thrive under the most glaring of spotlights without losing his dignity and his coolness ion dealing with the harshest of critics that make him so great.  Doubt him if you must but I feel that Derek Jeter will have a monster 2014.

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @ltj41

I also cover the Arizona Diamondbacks at venomstrikes.com

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August 26th: What a Date in New York Baseball History

From time to time I enjoy getting material for this blog by looking up what happened in baseball history on a particular date.   Although August 26th only has about two hours left in the day, there are lots of goodies that took place on this date particularly those pertaining to the two New York baseball clubs.  The timing may seem particularly cruel for Mets’ fans considering today’s news regarding Matt Harvey but some of these items are too good not to be mentioned.  So here is a rundown of what took place on this date over the years.  A big thanks goes out to http://www.nationalpastime.com

Classic Bobby V.  Image:  usatoday.com

Classic Bobby V. Image: usatoday.com

 

1962-The Yankees were swept in a five game series by the Baltimore Orioles as Robin Roberts outdueled Whitey Ford 2-1 in a battle of future Hall of Famers.  The Yanks would go on to win the World Series later that season but whoever heard of a team dropping all five games of the rare five game series?

1991-Brien Taylor signed a record-setting $1.55 million contract with the Yankees as the number one pick in the June draft.  Taylor, a 19-year old pitcher from East Carteret High School in Beaufort, North Carolina had his price driven up thanks to suspended owner George Steinbrenner who said earlier, “If they (Yankee management) let him go, they ought to be shot”.  Taylor never pitched a game in the Major Leagues as his career was derailed by a shoulder injury suffered in 1993 while defending his brother in a bar fight.

1993-Vince Coleman was placed on administrative leave by the Mets following his admission that he tossed an M-100 firecracker at fans in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.  As result of Coleman’s recklessness, three people were injured in the July 24th.  It was just the latest in a string of embarrassments for a Mets squad that lost 103 games that season.  The atmosphere around the team was so toxic that the organization decided to enlist several eager college students (including yours truly) to create so a more fan-friendly vibe around Shea Stadium.

1996-The Mets replace Dallas Green as manager with Bobby Valentine.  Bobby V becomes one of the most successful managers in team has had and led the club to back-to-back playoff appearances for the only time in franchise history.  The 2000 team advanced to their fourth World Series in its history where it lost 4 games to 1 to the Yankees.  Valentine had many memorable moments as the skipper, perhaps none more so than the glasses and mustache “outfit” he wore in the dugout following an ejection.

2002-Two Yankees made history in the team’s 10-3 victory over the Texas RangersAlfonso Soriano hit is 31st home run of the season, setting a new club record for second basemen.  He surpassed Joe Gordon‘s mark which was set in 1940.  Derek Jeter became only the third player to score 100 or more runs in his first seven seasons.  He joined Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Earle Combs and will join them one day in Cooperstown.  Also noted about this game:  it was the first one where video was streamed over the Internet and was viewed by 30,000 fans.

2003-It was future Mets trade day as Oliver Perez and Jason Bay were traded by the San Diego Padres to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Brian Giles.  The deal worked out in the Bucs’ favor as Bay would have several productive seasons in Pittsburgh including winning the 2004 National League Rookie of the Year Award.  Perez finished 2004 in the top five in ERA with a nice 2.98 mark.  Unfortunately, this kind of excellence was missing during the duo’s time in New York.

2008-David Wright becomes the first player in Mets’ history to have four 100 RBI seasons.  The euphoria doesn’t last as the Amazins’ blow a 7-0 lead and lose to the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 in 13 innings.  The victory sent Philly into first place, a half game in front of New York.

Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @ltj41 

I also cover the Arizona Diamondbacks at venomstrikes.com

Baseball’s Good Guys

This is going to be one of the those different posts. Too often, both in sports and in life, we read and hear about negativity. Whether it’s an athlete getting arrested for drunk driving or the daily carnage exhibited by regular folks, there has to be more out there has to be more in the news than just the same depressing stories, only with different faces. That is what this entry will be about; in fact I hope to make this a regular feature. It will focus on certain baseball players that do an enormous amount of good work, mainly done under the radar. Here are the first set of guys you should follow instead of the egomaniacs and criminals we read about every day.

Derek Jeter, ultimate winner, better role model.  Image:  sikids.com

Derek Jeter, ultimate winner, better role model. Image: sikids.com

Derek Jeter:   That’s right, we start this with not only baseball’s ultimate winner but perhaps its best role model.  There are legions of Jeter-haters out there waiting for the Captain to have an embarrassing public slip-up.  That in of itself says volumes  about today’s society.  The fact is Jeter is a Hall of Fame player as well as a Hall of Fame person.  His Turn 2 Foundation was started in 1996 when he was a rookie and is now one of baseball most recognized charities.  The foundation contains numerous programs designed to promote healthy lifestyles among young people.  Since its inception, Turn 2 has been awarded over $16 million dollars in grants for its three chapters.  New York, Western Michigan and Tampa.  In 2012 Siena College awarded him a Doctorate of Humane Letters for his charitable endeavors.  As far as personal conduct goes, what parent (like me) wouldn’t like their child to emulate DJ?  You don’t hear a whiff of trouble surrounding him in the media and he also conducts himself in an exemplary manner in public.  He donates an enormous amount much of his time, money and energy into his foundation.  In short, there is no better role model right now in baseball than Derek Jeter.

Jim ThomeThe 42-year old future Hall of Famer is looking for a team at the moment.  He still has a little bit of life left in his bat as he stroked eight home runs in 161 at-bats in 2012.  There is always someone who can use a left-handed bat off the bench so I expect the slugger to find work before May 1st.  If he can’t find work as a player, perhaps he can focus on his second career as a professional charity spokesperson.  There are so many organizations Thome has either lent his time, money name or all of the above that it is almost impossible to keep track of.  this link to an archived Chicago White Sox page may be able to guide you.   2005 was an exceptionally banner year for Thome’s work as he was honored by The Sporting News as Major League Baseball’s Number One Good Guy and the Lou Gehrig Award given to the player who exemplifies tremendous character.  He has raised over $1 million dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria.  At each one of his extended stays (Cleveland, Philadelphia and Chicago) during his playing career, he has involved himself in numerous charities in those communities.  One would be hard-pressed to find an athlete who is as generous with his time and money as Jim Thome.

Torii Hunter:  There aren’t many players in baseball who smile more than the Gold Glove center fielder.  Kids all over the country smile because Hunter both on and off the field.  His Torii Hunter Project  has outreach programs in four cities dedicated to helping kids with character education.  Hunter has personally contributed over $1 million dollars to the cause and his partnered with another giving athlete, tennis great Andre Agassi.  The Project began in Los Angeles while a member of the Angels just as he and his wife Katrina started the Torii and Katrina Hunter Foundation while he was playing for the Minnesota Twins.  In 2007, he was awarded the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, given to one player for his outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to the community.  In 2009, he received the Branch Rickey Award which rewards excellence in charity work.  On March 4th, Hunter donated $100,000 to the University of Arkansas for the purposes of constructing an indoor baseball and track and field facility.   His personality and tireless efforts on behalf of those less fortunate makes Torii Hunter one of baseball’s finest role models.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

Derek Jeter’s Injury Dampens the Postseason Mood

This was supposed to be a post about how great both the American and NationaLeague Championship Series will be leading up up to the World Series. The history of the four participants speaks for itself; they have combined for a total of 48 World Series Championships.  Everything was going to resemble the 2003 and 2004 LCS’s from both leagues, all four of them seven game classics.

The next time we see Derek Jeter in uniform, it will be 2013. Image: http://www.coolchaser.com

Derek Jeter’s injury changes all of that.

This is not to say the New York YankeesDetroit Tigers series won’t be competitve.  It certainly won’t diminish the showdown between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.  However, it won’t be the same looking at the Yankees and for that matter the rest of this postseason without Jeter.  Think about it, he has played almost as many post season games (158) as there are actual games in the regular season.  Since 1996, the Yankees have made the playoffs every season except for the 2008 campaign.  Derek Jeter has played in every single one of those postgseason games.  It is sort of like Mickey Mantle in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Yankees were in the World Series just about every year and there was Mantle, the best and most recognized player on the premier team in the sport showing off his game in front of the entire country.  Like Mantle, Jeter has excelled hitting .308 over his playoff career including a robust .321 in Fall Classic play.

So what happens to the Yankees without the Captain?  It will obviously be very difficult for this team to advance particularly since they are down two games to none at the moment.  However, to say they have no chance is not fair to the rest of the guys in that locker room.  This team has overcome numerous injuries to register the best record in the American League.  Stranger things have happened.  But none stranger than not seeing Derek Jeter at Shortstop for the Yankees in the ALCS.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

Why Derek Jeter Should be the American League MVP

Boy. it has been a long time since I posted for everyone.  I have been busy with venomstrikes.com, my other home away from this blog.  Other things have kept me from here including the beginning a new season coaching soccer.  But you don’t care about any of that.  You want the good stuff.  So here it goes.

Derek Jeter should be the American League MVP.

Not Mike Trout.

Not Miguel Cabrera.

Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter should be the AL MVP for the 2012 season. Image: allsuperstars.blogspot.com

During an amazing, illustrious career that has seen the Yankees Captain win just about every award possible., this 2012 season is the year Jeter should win the most recognized individual award given to a player.  No, this is not a selection for lifetime achievement.  This has nothing to do with two of his jerseys hanging in my closet.  This is based on the fact that when you start with numbers, add in intangibles and then mix in team record, Derek Jeter simply has been the most valuable player in the American League this season.   I get it, you are going to attempt to dazzle me with the numbers that may get Cabrera the Triple Crown, something not done in 45 years.  You will show me the all-around spectacular play of Trout and his equally eye-popping stats particularly for a guy who was born two months after I graduated high school.  Jeter’s numbers speak for themselves, batting .322 with over 200 hits and nearly 100 runs scored.   While they are significantly less that Trout’s 28-78, .323, 122 runs scored and Cabrera’s 42-133, .331, 105 runs scored, the key word in the award is VALUABLE.  I am sure there are a ton of more numbers you will throw out that will enhance either of the other two’s chances as pposed to Jeter.  Numbers are great, I love them.  But just like everything else, they can be abused and then become meaningless.  Trust me, there is a post coming about that very topic.  Anyway, here is why Jeter deserves it more than Cabrera and Trout.

We will start with Trout because……why not?  Wait, I think he just leaped over the wall to rob another home run.  Trout’s 2012 rookie season may go down as one of the greatest initial campaigns of all time.  Actually, the Angels’ phenom played in 40 games and had 123 at-bats in 2011 and started 2012 in Triple A.  He was brought up for good at the end of April replacing Bobby Abreu.  The Angels were struggling at time of his recall and since then, have been playing the kind of ball that was expected of them before the season started.  There is the rub.  LA was expected to be World Series contenders and that is with Trout not making the club out of Spring Training. So the fact they are making a late push now thanks to Trout, Albert Pujols and Jered Weaver among others says to me that Trout has had a lot of help this Summer.

The case against Cabrera is more difficult.  How can you vote against a guy who may do something no one has done since before Richard Nixon was first elected President?  If Miggy does in fact win the Triple Crown, I wouldn’t have a major problem with the selecting him to win the MVP.  however, there is precedent to this.  Ted Williams won the Triple Crown in 1941 but lost the MVP award to Joe DiMaggio.  A crooked writer didn’t even list Williams on his ballot.  OK, that is a pretty weak precedent.  But here again, it is not as though Cabrera has been doing this alone, having the Tigers within a game of first place.   Prince Fielder as had an outstanding year as usual and the rotation boasts the two leaders in strikeouts, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.  This was another team that in April was predicted by many to be playing deep into October and now they are not even in a Wild Card position.

Take a look at the Yankee team in 2012.  Yes, while the payroll is still huge most of the parts of it have had below average years.  Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez have been hurt or ineffective or at times both.  Sure Curtis Granderson has 39 home runs but he is also batting .230 with 184 strikeouts.  Robinson Cano has had a good year but also at times has disappeared both at the plate and in the field.  Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes both have set career highs in wins but have not had the seasons the other three pitchers mentioned have had. Rafael Soriano has been marvelous filling in for Mariano Rivera, he has been the team’s most valuable pitcher.  While Soriano has been great,  Derek Jeter has been the best player on the team since Day One.  He has never gone into a prolonged slump and has gotten every clutch hit and every desperately needed jump throw for a team that has had more injuries and underachievement than most contending clubs.

If I haven’t convinced you yet about the worthiness of Derek Jeter being the AL MVP, think about this.  Would the Angels be in third place in the AL West if Mike Trout was not on the team?  I think it is a pretty safe bet the answer is yes.  Would the Tigers be in second place in the AL Central if there was no Miguel Cabrera?  Considering the third place team is 12 games under .500, I would make that assumption.  Now would the Yankees be 24 games over .500 and in first place without Derek Jeter?  The answer to that question is an emphatic NO.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com