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nothing but respect


respect.  that's what the captain of the yankees has earned over his career.  just take a quick glance at the message boards across baseball this year, and you'll constantly read things like this (actually quoted from a video of jeter):  "i  *$^%# hate the yankees, but i got nothin but respect for the captain."

nothing but respect.

he seems to have had his relationship problems off the field, but some of the reporting of that seems to be as largely exaggerated as is the human tendency to tear down those who are successful.  he generally stays out of the tabloids, and certainly out of the limelight in new york city, other than when it comes to playing baseball, which is what he has always wanted to do.  since his proclamation as a 4th-grader that he would someday play shortstop for the new york yankees, he has been a driven man, full of focus and determination.  sure he has natural skill, but i don't think anyone would ever argue that he is the most naturally gifted athlete to ever play his position.  but he does have grit and a crazy work ethic and a fierce competitive drive.  and something else, too, which is my major reason for admiring and celebrating him: class.

derek jeter plays the game well.  he plays it with heart.  he plays it with sportsmanship.  he never rips into his teammates (even when he's had plenty of good reasons to do so over the years), at least not in the public eye.  he doesn't taunt.  he doesn't turn his play into a sideshow, (ala puig from the dodgers, just to name one of several), and doesn't make everything all about him.  jeter just lets his play do the talking.

and his play has said plenty.  5 world series championships.  world series mvp.  all star game mvp.  3,000 hits.  over .300 lifetime average.  that jump throw.  that shovel toss against the a's.  that leap into the stands against the red sox.  that home run in november.  and he never throws the bat or points a finger or glares into an opposing dugout.  he just plays, and enjoys playing, and tries to do everything he can to play to the best of his ability and to do anything he can to help his team win.  strange that this seems a novel concept in the contemporary sports arena, but it is.

so, to you, derek jeter, as you play in your final all star game, i tip my cap to you in respect.



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