The Braves Blog

Ramblings about the Braves by True Braves Fans

July 11, 2012

Like him or hate him, Derek Jeter is a classy guy

by @ 7:33 am.   Filed under baseball, baseball players

This started out as a quick share on Facebook (go join the page if you haven’t already, I do share stuff on there that never gets posted on here or twitter.) I was just going to make a silly comment about how Jeter looked so sad. Then I realized, Jeter deserves some respect.

Before 1996, Braves‘ fans didn’t care about the Yankees. Their loss in the 1995 LDS was the first time they even made it to the post-season since 1981. Having finally won the 1995 World Series, the Braves were well on their way to claiming their title as the “Team of the 90s.” I think John Smoltz sums up best what happened what happened his book, Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year:

On October 21, we appeared to be on a collision course with destiny in the form of repeat titles. Five days later, we had somehow lost the World Series and destiny belonged to the Yankees. Their incredible win was our incredible loss. Not only did we lose another championship, we lost the foundation of the team that had gotten us to the World Series four out of the last six years. If we had won, would our general manager have gone in another direction and been able to keep the likes of David Justice, Marquis Grissom, Terry Pendleton, Jermaine Dye, and Steve Avery? That’s the kind of thing we’ll never know. What we do know is what did happen. The Yankees went on to dominate, even today. Meanwhile, the Braves are still chasing their first World Series win since 1996.1

Whether you believe that a few minor differences in 1996 changed the path of those teams or not, a rivalry was born that year. 1996 was also the year a young short-stop named Derek Jeter won the Rookie of the Year award (and only a year after Chipper was robbed of the award.) Now, with over 5000 games played (including post season) between the two, the rivalry among the teams remains just as strong as when it started 16 years ago. In fact, Chipper and Jeter are the only two active players that have been part of the rivalry the entire time. See if you can name the other 4 guys that were with the Yankees or Braves in 1996 and with the team now (no prizes if you guess correctly, I don’t have anything good to give away.)

Despite all of this, whenever Jeter is asked about Chipper, how does he respond? He definitely doesn’t say “that’s a clown question, bro.” No, Jeter does the exact opposite. Whenever asked, Jeter gives an answer that shows nothing but respect and admiration for Chipper. He never just talks about what Chipper has meant to the game, but what he has meant to him, personally. In doing so, he shows that while the rivalries make the game fun, they aren’t what REALLY define the game. What defines the game are its players. Numbers and stats might define someone as a great athlete, but only those players that can show a respect and reverence for the game itself can be truly considered great baseball players. While I’ve never felt that Jeter didn’t respect the game, it has been refreshing to have it confirmed.

That being said, I still think he looks like “if the Rock and sex with a Muppet.”

1Yaeger, Don; Smoltz, John (2012-05-08). Starting and Closing: Perseverance, Faith, and One More Year (Kindle Locations 3463-3468). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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