Derek Jeter, The Greatest Team Captain Of This Lifetime

 ~  Derek Jeter’s chase for his 3,000th career hit is now over. Jeter reached the magical number in his usual dramatic fashion when he launched a David Price pitch over the left field fence at Yankee Stadium that sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was another moment to add to the history of the Yankees. It was another Derek Jeter moment that adds to his resume as arguably the greatest team captain of this lifetime.

 As far as I’m concerned, it’s not much of an argument. I’ve watched 25 years worth of sports and counting. When it comes to leadership, poise and pride in professional sports, Derek Jeter’s image should always come up.

 Jeter won’t go down as the greatest baseball player of all time. The only reason he will never go down as the greatest Yankee of all time is because Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, and Mantle would all present great statistical cases to that claim. However when it comes to pure leadership and the ability to inspire, no one in recent history has done it quite with the style of Jeter.

 I can already hear the long time Yankee fans saying to me now, What about Mattingly? What about Munson?

 To be a team captain, requires you to be the face of the team through good times and especially bad times. The team follows the pace that you set on and off the field of play. It calls for you to be vocal and when to just quietly lead by example.

 If you put Mattingly and Munson together, you get the modern day team captain Derek Jeter. He makes moments happen which is what professional sports is all about. To take the moment and make it your own and to have your teammates look on in admiration and awe. Jeter’s 3,000th career hit provides solid confirmation of this …

 The epic 8-pitch battle between Jeter and Price was captivating. The hard throwing young All-Star pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays did not back down from the moment, he went right after Jeter with his best stuff. The capacity crowd at the stadium were on their feet and the De-Rek Je-Ter chants were growing with every pitch. It was a moment where both teams appeared to be wrapped up into the suspense.

 It was only fitting that Jeter hit a home run to get that hit. He didn’t hit a weak groundball up the middle. He didn’t have to beat out a infield hit. He smacked it over the fence for a home run and finished the day going 5 for 5. Jeter didn’t stagger into 3,000 hits, he smashed his way through by having his biggest game of the season.

 Team captains are given the stage to perform when needed most. Mark Messier was as good at this as any team captain ever. He wasn’t the all around best on the ice, however his leadership took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. Derek Jeter is that to the Yankees. You have to be able to step onto the big stage at any given time and produce. It’s not for everybody.

 Throughout Jeter’s career as a Yankee, he has owned the grand stage. The home run he hit in the 2000 World Series at Shea Stadium against the Mets.

 The magical flip play against Oakland. The game winning home run in the 2001 World Series against Arizona that earned him the title of Mr. November. 4 championships in 5 years, 5 championships in 17 years. Jeter is all bout winning.

 The class that he carries himself with on and off the field has not only earned the respect of Yankee fans, it commands the respect of fans throughout baseball. Hate or love the Yankees, you must respect Jeter.

 Very few players in professional sports inspire you to not just play alongside them, you also could play for them as well. I got that feeling watching the Yankees run out on the field to congratulate Jeter, that most if not all of them would have ran through a wall to help Jeter if they could. That’s the one you want to be your team captain.

 It’s clear that he isn’t the same player he was 10 years ago. He may not even be the same player he was 5 years ago. At 37 years old, Derek Sanderson Jeter is the gold standard of what it means to be a team leader in professional sports. He earned the right to hold firm with his contract demands before this season. In this era of steroids, big money contracts, and even bigger ego’s, Jeter found a way with that 3,000th hit to remind us why he is the heart and soul of the Yankees.

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