Derek Jeter hasn’t forced this upon us. On second thought, maybe he has. But he hasn’t done it through Twitter or reality TV shows. He’s done it through winning. But not just winning. It’s the way he’s won. He’s done it with style and class. Jeter isn’t a choir boy. He’s dated several of the most famously beautiful women of our time like Adriana Lima, Jessica Alba, and Mariah Carey when she still had her fastball. And now, he’s dating the former Lyla Garrity from Friday Night Lights, Minka Kelly. It’s good to be famous.
Michael Jordan tapped him to be his main Jordan Brand guy for baseball. Even though you would never say that Derek Jeter was the Michael Jordan of baseball based on his talent and output, you could see why Jordan wanted him to represent his products. Jeter is to New York what Jay-Z is to New York. Jeter’s impact on the game and overall popularity outshines how good he is, but it goes to show you how much you can do when you handle yourself properly. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any Jeter dirt dug up.
Earlier today, Derek Jeter got his 3000th hit, joining the likes of Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays in the 3000th hit club. While there are other players in the club who played for the Yankees, the most famous ones like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle aren’t. Jeter didn’t just reach the milestone and call it a day. He reached it in style. He started the day with a base hit to left field in the first inning to get to within just one hit of 3,000. In the third inning, Jeter got out in front of a breaking ball and put it into the left field bleachers for a home run. Only one other player in baseball history has hit a home run for his 3,000th hit. That other player is Wade Boggs.
But Jeter didn’t take the rest of the day off. In the 5th inning, he doubled and later scored. In the 6th, he singled. And in the 8th inning he knocked in the winning run. No other player who reached 3,000 hits, did so in a game in which he also went 5-5. Jeter is also the 7th quickest to 3,000 hits, doing so in 2,362 games.
Earlier this year, I pointed out that Jeter’s 2011 season would probably mirror his frustrating 2010 season in which he hit just .270 and his advanced statistics pretty much said that he was no better than an average player. He may underperform even that this year and he’s already under fire for his performance after an offseason which saw he and the Yankees bicker about his worth to the team. The Yankees couldn’t not sign Derek Jeter because of what he means to the franchise. Maybe after 2013, he’ll decide not to renew his 2014 option and retire. Derek Jeter isn’t the best player in baseball and he probably never was, even at his greatest. But he’s a winner, he wins with style, and I imagine he’ll also retire in style. Maybe he and Minka Kelly will just ride off into the sunset.
Photo of Derek Jeter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license