What Does Derek Jeter’s Milestone Signify?
July 8, 2011 12 Comments
Just as Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run last year wasn’t the sole focus of his milestone, Derek Jeter’s 3000th celebration is mired in question marks.
3000 is the hump that all great hitters strive to get over. It’s the mark that tells the world that you are one of the world’s finest hitters to ever play the game. Derek Jeter will become part of the exclusive, soon to be, 28 member club.
Although Jeter will shortly reach the peak of the 3000 hit mountain, his career is on the descent. His chase to 3000 is a distraction from the inevitable. The inevitable, interrupted by a calf injury. Jeter is finished from being on top of the baseball world.
The reality of it is that Derek Jeter is a grossly overpaid shortstop, batting .257 with just about everything except his media influence being limited as the days go by. Limited range, limited power, limited speed.
Derek Jeter is an aging athlete. There is no other way to put it. The sample presented by Jeter in the last season and a half is undeniable evidence. It can no longer be classified as an anomaly. A season and a half of mediocrity can be an anomaly at 30 but not 37.
Ichiro Suzuki is 37. It could be the first time in his career that he has a season batting under .300. Father time has got to him too.
Derek Jeter’s halo above his head does not give him the ability to avoid the inevitable that is coming sooner than he would like. He will always be the media darling but even Jeter worshippers can’t defend him forever.
For Jeter, 3000 hits means that his time as the leadoff hitter is running out. He knows he has no business being up there. The top of the order is no place for a former alpha male. Jeter is lucky that he is on one of the few teams that are able to mask the presence of an elephant at the top of the order.
The struggle that Derek Jeter has faced over the past year and a half to get to 3000 can’t be half as bad as the struggle that he is having trying to cope with his decline.
Denial is the first stage of any sort of grief but people should be past that point by now. Even Derek Jeter.
Anger. That’s something Jeter will probably see and hear from Yankee fans not long after number 3000. In sports but especially New York, it has what have you done for me lately? The Yankees are all about winning and Brian Cashman’s hardball with Derek Jeter in the off-season couldn’t have made the message any clearer.
Once Jeter hits 3000 New York can finally treat him as another average baseball player. Well, as average as an angel can be treated.
His 3000th hit will be an incredible moment. Much like a 100 year olds birthday, his milestone will be treasured, celebrated and last eternally.
It’s always a shame that the same human being will not.
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