What Does Derek Jeter’s Milestone Signify?

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.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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What’s the Deal with Reputation?

Troy Polamalu has increased his popularity through his Head and Shoulders commercials

Sometimes a reputation can mean everything in life. It can determine how much you like a person before you meet them. It can be the difference in getting a job between you and that other guy. Oh yeah, reputation can also be the deciding factor in receiving an award.

Not to take anything away from the great Troy Polamalu, but yesterday he undeservingly won the defensive player of the year award. He edged out Clay Matthews, who was thought to be the consensus top defensive player this year, and was even mentioned in MVP talks. Guess not.

It’s obvious, Troy Polamalu won on reputation.

There is no doubt that Polamalu is an outstanding player, possibly the best defensive player in the NFL. Troy Polamalu epitomizes what a game changer should be while his 63 total tackles and 7 interceptions prove that. However, the fact of the matter is that this award is given out based on a single season of play, not on career achievements.

Clay Matthews had a better season hands down. Matthews had 14 sacks, 60 tackles, an interception and gave offensive coordinators fits each and every week with his relentless pressure. Furthermore, Polamalu missed two games during the season, in which his team went 1-1, whereas Matthews missed none. It isn’t Polamalu’s fault that he missed 2 games because of injury. Nevertheless, it does diminish the impact of his season and should have impacted his standing in the race for this award.

The problem is that this isn’t the first time that a player has won based on reputation. This is an occurrence that happens all too often in professional sports. The players who have not “paid their dues” are discounted by voters who favour the sexier, more well-known choice.

Each year, Derek Jeter is given the gold glove despite his declining defensive play, mainly his range or lack thereof. Jeter is often voted by players as the most overrated player in baseball, yet award voters continue to favour him.

Derek Jeter has won the gold glove award on 5 separate occasions

Why? Jeter is the poster boy for not only the New York Yankees but also Major League Baseball. There isn’t a guy with a more stand up reputation than Derek Jeter as he is one of the most renowned sports figures in North America.

Moreover, it is apparent that many voters simply fail to open their eyes to what is going on around them. There are at least 30 teams in 4 major North American sports and deserving players for these lesser, yet still important, awards are overlooked because of ignorance. It is difficult to keep an eye to what is going on around the league, but it by no means is impossible.

It isn’t nearly as common to see more clear-cut awards, such as MVP, go completely in the wrong direction because generally the players in the running for those awards either have already built up a reputation as a great player, which is why they are up for the award, or the player has received so much national exposure because of the fact that he is in the running for the award.

Troy Polamalu may be a great player, but his national coverage as a result of his Head and Shoulders commercials sure hasn’t hurt his reputation and has caused him to be an even greater sensation in the NFL. For your consideration, Troy Polamalu’s jersey is the #1 selling jersey in the NFL.

Former CFLer and current Miami Dolphin Cameron Wake did not even receive a single vote with regards to the defensive player of the year award. However, he was named to Peter King’s all-pro team, finished the season with 14 sacks, the second most tackles for loss, and drew the most holding calls of any player in the league. It’s a shame that he is a virtual unknown around the league compared to guys like Ed Reed, James Harrison, Julius Peppers and of course Troy Polamalu.

It’s much more straightforward for voters to go with the players who have garnered a premiere status in their respective league. Not nearly as much controversy is likely to come about when you go with a guy who is highly respected around the league.

Pavel Datsyuk won his 3rd consecutive Frank J. Selke award last season as the NHL’s best defensive (two-way) forward. He edged out Vancouver Canuck forward Ryan Kesler by 33 total points and 1 first place vote. I may be biased here, as I am a Vancouver fan and am privileged to watch Kesler on a night-to-night basis, but it seems to me that if it was Kesler with the 2 prior Selke trophies he would have taken the award home last year.

This effect of reputation is just another one of those sad facts of life. Has a teacher ever gotten mad at you for talking in class even though it was someone else?

To a smaller extent, even something as simple as all-star games exhibit this fact. Fans vote in their favourites and their choice is largely based on popularity, the cousin of reputation. In recent years, a situations like Allen Iverson, in which he was voted as an Eastern Conference starter last season, takes away a spot from an actual deserving all-star.

It flat out isn’t fair that players are repeatedly rewarded based on things that they have accomplished in the past. It isn’t fair to the fans but most importantly it isn’t fair to the athletes that work their ass off their entire life only to be snubbed (not to say that the recipient of the award hasn’t worked hard either). A player who hasn’t built up that reputation may only have the one season of greatness, but it may not be recognized by the voters whose narrow-minds keep them from acknowledging the truly deserving athletes.

Figure it out.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I am on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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Greatest owner ever…? Hardly.

George Steinbrenner (left) and Billy Martin (right) didn't always get along

They say that money can’t buy happiness. Well try telling that to New York Yankee fans.

In 37 years under George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees won 7 World Series titles and 11 pennants. In 1973, Steinbrenner turned a $10 million investment into a franchise that is now worth an estimated $1.6 billion.

Following his death yesterday, the baseball world has been buzzing at the tragedy but also about the legend that is George Steinbrenner. Despite the fact that Steinbrenner made the Yankees into perennial contenders, there is much reason to believe why he should not be considered one of the greatest owners in the history of sports.

George Steinbrenner is probably best known to the casual sports fan for his outrageous spending on top flight players. But he is also well-known for his constant hiring and firings of his employees.

7 World titles in 37 years seems like a lot of championships, but when you think about it, with that much money being thrown around they probably should have had even more.

As I mentioned above, George Steinbrenner is not one to shy away from spending his money. To this day, the Yankees do not care about spending above the “salary cap” and paying a bit of a luxury tax. They are willing to trade money for championships and that is something that you have to give George Steinbrenner a lot of credit for. It is a path that should be taken more often by owners because what is really the difference between having $300 and $200 million?

It is frequently overlooked that the Yankees had a championship drought for 17 years (1979-1995), which goes to show that ludicrous spending and instability in a franchise is not always going to be the answer to winning championships.

If you look at the years when the Yankees started winning again, it was not just because they were buying all their players. It all started again when the front office decided that the Franchises insufficient development of talent through their system was not getting the job done, and it was time to start bringing up players through the minor league ranks.

Think about it, throughout the last 14 years there have been four core players that are still to this day high quality major league players. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada. What you have there is the four most important pieces of any team. You have a starting shortstop, starting pitcher, closer, and first-string catcher.

Those four guys have been a constant among the Yankees organization and are the primary reason why they have won so many championships. Let’s not forget Bernie Williams who was the starting center-fielder for the better part of ten years.

I do realize that the money that the Yankees are able to spend allow them to surround this nucleus of players with other star guys. When you get star players like Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Alex Rodriguez it is going to be difficult to lose, but the fact of the matter is that the Yankees had a core of guys that they could build around. The Yankees winning formula does not alone stem from George Steinbrenner and his massive spending ways, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

It’s not like the Yankees didn’t buy players when they weren’t winning championships. They brought in guys by the names of Ricky Henderson, Steve Sax, and Dave Winfield who were all unable to deliver the city of New York a championship.

Do you seriously think that Yankees are going to win the same amount of games without the best closer of all time or without the clutch play of Derek Jeter?

Speaking of stability, Joe Torre was only around for oh…11 years, which is the longest tenure for a manager during the George Steinbrenner era.

Contrast that to Steinbrenner’s first 23 seasons as Yankee owner where he changed managers a total of 20 times, which included Billy Martin being fired and rehired 5 times. He also switched general managers 11 times in 30 years. Please do not try to tell me that that kind of instability is not going to hurt a team.

What if you had an owner who had the exact same spending style as George Steinbrenner without all the craziness to go along with it? What if that same owner decided that he was not going to meddle in the affairs of his front office? What if this bizarro Steinbrenner was instead the owner of the New York Yankees?

What you would have is a New York Yankees franchise that would have, in those same 37 years, a greater than or equal amount of championships than the real George Steinbrenner has brought to the Big Apple.

George Steinbrenner may have done a lot of great things for the New York Yankees but he is by no means the greatest owner of all-time.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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