He is referred to by a certain breed of sports obsessives as "Jeter Christ" -- aside from the fact that he truly crafted miraculous plays that won baseball games for the New York Yankees.
As a lifelong Mets fan who actually enjoyed watching the Yankees' modern day dynastic achievements whilst Freddy Wilpon's woebegone Amazin's mostly bottomed out the Eastern Division of the National League, I applaud the remarkable baseball career of Derek Sanderson Jeter.
Derek Jeter is an unquestionable first ballot Hall-of-Famer. His stats speak volumes. Jeter earned his worldly World Series Championship rings despite the fact that Major League Baseball does not compete internationally. He has been a staple on sports television highlight reels for three decades. Jeter has made billions for the Yankees and the brand that is Major League Baseball in the form of merchandise, box-office, television and radio ratings, and advertising dollars. Sorry Mr. Richard Gossage, the goose doesn't get any more golden than Captain Clutch.
However, to my ears and cognitive process, the perpetually grating "greatness" hosannas heaped upon the Yankees shortstop -- in the media and in the sports bars of New York City -- lucidly illustrates how we the people are no longer a society that pays heed to the necessity of critical thinking. This absurd adoration of Mr. Jeter will only accelerate as the 2014 baseball season is in full swing -- pun intended.
I tend to think critically about Derek Jeter. Jeter is lauded in our media for being a Lothario, however, if he were a female athlete, I doubt "Dereka Jeter" would be on the receiving end of such praise and unabashed admiration. But that's not Derek Jeter's fault. Explain to me why Derek Jeter is a great role model for young men? How are Derek Jeter's ex-girlfriends role models for young women -- simply by way of the fact that they garner glowing media coverage? I maintain that sports entertainers, actresses, gold diggers (male and female) and fashion models should not be held up as role models for American youth -- yet I am in the minority.
I don't mind, nor am I envious, that Jeter is acclaimed for bedding attractive women. Nor do I deride these women for pursuing marquee athletes for the residual fame and glory, and for receiving a complimentary gift basket from Mr. November replete with valuable memorabilia immediately following an evening of sexual activity, as reported in a major news outlet that is definitely not the New York Yankees Official 2014 Media Guide. These people are not great individuals in my view.
What did Derek Jeter know about steroid use by his teammates and when did he know about it, and if he knew about it, why didn't he speak up sooner? Personally, I don't care! To me a baseball player taking drugs is no different than John Lennon placing a tab of LSD under his tongue and rendering the vocals to "Tomorrow Never Knows" flat on his back from the floor of EMI Abbey Road studios in 1966. Baseball players and rock stars are entertainers, and private citizens: what they do to enhance their performance is none of my business.
Ringo, Paul and George knew of Lennon's proclivity for lysergic acid diethylamide -- and even dabbled in it as well. A recording studio, like a dugout and locker room, are places wherein there are few secrets among the inhabitants. However the Beatles, and Lennon in particular, talked explicitly about their drug use in the media -- and it got two of them arrested. They did not worry about damaging their brand and they paid the price for their honesty and openness -- yet in the process, they sent a valuable message: drugs are a personal choice, and some of the most dangerous drugs are legal.
I think if certain baseball entertainers were more open and honest about drug use, the issue of steroids in professional baseball would have been settled a lot sooner. The boys in Jeter's band, especially Roger Clemens and the de-facto scapegoat for all the ills of humanity according to the sports media and their minions -- I'm referring to Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez -- were in plain sight. In the pub, I could detect steroid use from the distance of the bar to the overhead TV, as did my Yankees and Mets comrades with elbows bent and in various stages of stupor!
Maybe Derek Jeter was among the baseball players who knew. Maybe not. Talking to the media about the so-called wrongs of steroid use after the fact, or avoiding the topic on numerous occasions, is not the mark of a great individual.
And you don't read or hear much about the how the citizens of New York City continue to subsidize the billion dollar private entertainment corporation known as the New York Yankees by way of multiple tax exemptions. But you do hear plenty about how there is never enough money in the public till for universal health care, improving schools, affordable housing, care for the elderly and mentally ill, fire departments, teachers, health care workers and other services that benefit all of society -- not just the folks who can afford the high price of baseball tickets. It is my belief that great individuals do not represent such sports corporations who mislead the public and consequently profit from it at the expense of the citizenry. On the flip-side, if we were a city of critical thinkers, we would not tolerate such corporate civic irresponsibility, or those who shill for it. Can't blame Jeter for that.
I highly commend Derek Jeter for his philanthropic efforts. Charity work is admirable, and much needed -- but charity does not solve problems. It is not up to Derek Jeter to solve the problems we have in society. That is the work of truly great individuals -- regardless of their celebrity status or lack thereof. That Jeter lends his fame to help others exemplifies his sincerity. He has raised millions for his outstanding Turn 2 Foundation which motivates youth to live a healthy productive life and become the leaders of tomorrow. If only we could spend more money on our kids than we spend on baseball stadiums. We could -- if we thought a little more critically about our worship of baseball entertainers.
I wish Derek Jeter and his family well in his future endeavors. I relished watching Derek play baseball, even though I am a Mets fan. He was a great baseball entertainer -- and that's about as far as I am willing to go on the word "great" and the name "Jeter."