Photo: The Sports Fan Journal
Those of you who know me know that I am a diehard Boston Red Sox fan.
I have chronicled in this place many times how hard it was growing up in these parts for a Sawx lover. My team it seems created new and excruciating ways to lose year in and year out, and my New York Yankee loving “friends” were ALWAYS there to point this out. We would go back and forth over things such as who was the better player, Thurman Munson or Carlton Fisk, or who should win the 1978 American League MVP Award, Jim Rice or Ron Guidry?
In 1996 another such battle was about to begin. Instead of just embracing the fact that our teams had a young, talented shortstops, it became: “Derek Jeter is better than Nomar Garciaparra” for my buds, and vice versa for me. The more I got to watch him play, though, it dawned on me that Derek was unlike those brash Bombers from my youth. Actually, he was unlike many of his contemporaries in the sports world who make a big winning play/moment all about THEMSELVES and not the team. Good grief, how many YUGE moments did Derek Jeter have in his career? And following them, how many times did he dance, bow, mime, use a prop, or make an obscene gesture? The answer is ZERO. A simple celebratory fist pump would do the trick.
Photo: Bleeding Yankee Blue
It is obvious his upbringing shaped the type of person and player he was. In researching for this blog, I read in Wikipedia that as a child, his parents made him sign a contract every year that defined acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior. Do you think Johnny Manziel or Adam “Pacman” Jones, just to name a few, had similar contracts as young men? Supposedly, his mom insisted that he not use the word “can’t” in his vocabulary. Well, Mrs. Jeter, here is video proof of your son obeying that request:
What makes this video hard to watch for me is that not only did it come in against the Red Sox (a game they would ultimately lose in stunningly ridiculous fashion); it came with my guy, Nomar, sitting (sulking) in the visitor’s dugout. He was approached to pinch hit on a few occasions that evening but refused. What a juxtaposition, DJ practically kills himself to catch a ball, and Nomie can’t, or won’t swing a bat for his teammates? As it turns out, this moment was the one that convinced former Boston GM Theo Epstein to ship No-mah out at the trade deadline. Over the span of that game and one play in particular, I lost respect for one player and gained a lot of it for another.
Dictionary.com defines the word respect:
“Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.”
For the way Derek Jeter took care of business on the field, and even more so for the way he comported himself off of it over his 19 year career, I tip my cap to the captain. Just don’t tell my Red Sox Nation brethren, please!