In the very poignant film "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," one of the final scene pits Anchorman Ron Burgundy in a bear pit, and a rival anchor Wes Mantooth (played by Vince Vaughn) holding the ladder to let Burgundy out. With the opportunity to crush his opponent, Mantooth says one of the great quotes in movie history:
"Burgundy, I hate your guts...But goddammit, I respect you."
Now this quote didn't lead to an Academy Award, but it typifies my feelings on Derek Jeter. I know, there are Red Sox diehards out there who will scream traitor, but that's ridiculous. I'm not saying I want to get in Jeter's jock. I'm just saying you have to give credit where credit is due.
Look at how the guy started his career: Rookie of the Year in 1996. World Series Championships in '96, '98, '99, and in 2000, where he became the only player to win the All Star and World Series MVP in the same season. Now, he has what might be his most amazing accolade to date: He has the most hits in Yankees history with 2,723 hits, and counting.
Just take a second to take that all in. Berra.Mantle. DiMaggio. Ruth. Gehrig. With that hard grounder down the first base line in the Bronx Friday night, he not only cemented his legacy as an all time great Yankee. He put himself in the argument as the greatest Yankee of all time.
But the real reason I respect Jeter so much is the fact that you don't get any BS with him. In sports these days sometimes it seems like you're watching soap opera or reality show. The Brett Favre saga over the past 2 seasons, Big Papi testing positive for PEDs, and well, just the TO Show seem to overshadow what what happens on the playing field.
Look in his own clubhouse. A-rod spends more time in US weekly and Star now than he does in Sports Illustrated because he "dates" high profile celebrities. It must be New York right? Well then how does Jeter have previous ties to Mariah Carey, Scarlett Johansson, and a former Miss Universe, and not half the scandal? It's in the way he carries himself.
And that goes for his demeanor on the field and in the locker room. Look, I love Jonathan Papelbon. In my opinion, his stat line for the 2007 postseason should have earned him MVP of the World Series. But Pap falls into the "love 'em if you got 'em, hate 'em if you don't" category. After a big out, hes going to celebrate like crazy. He's going to talk trash to opposing teams because he has no filter. Jeter, on the other hand, just goes about his business. Forget John Sterling and his "THeeeeeeee Yankees win!" after Bombers victory. Just look to the Yankees short stop and if his right fist is pumping, ball game.
It's funny to me that Jeter would pass Lou Gehrig on the night Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unlike most 90's kids, I grew up hating Michael Jordan. He won too much, hit all the big shots, and I despised that. I actually remember going to bed fuming the night he hit his last game winner in a Bulls' uniform. I didn't appreciate the greatness I witnessed. Fast forward 10 years, I know the Yankees have one of the greatest of all time in their dugout. I won't ever cheer for him, but goddammit, I'll respect him.