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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NY Mets-Blog > It’s Time To Show Jose Reyes The Money

~ It has to feel pretty good to be #7 for the New York Mets right now. Jose Reyes is approaching a crossroads.

The 28-year old shortstop is currently playing the best baseball of his career. Reyes has given the Mets organization everything they could possibly want from him in 2011. He is also up for a new contract at the end of the season. It’s now time for the Mets to give their fanbase what it wants … a new contract for Jose Reyes.


This wouldn’t be any ordinary new contract. Professional athletes get new contracts all the time. In most cases, the contract scale normally works this way if an athlete becomes a big time player:

  • The Rookie Contract: The 1st contract a.k.a the rookie contract let’s an athlete know that they have arrived to the party. The fans are excited because their team has a player that’s developed into a buzz.


  • The All-Star Contract: In the event that athlete lives up to the potential and buzz that got them their rookie contract, there is this contract. The athlete has become a branding weapon for their team and it’s marketing strategy. Fans come to the ballpark to see them play.


  • The Franchise Contract: Every athlete that becomes an All-Star in their career won’t receive this contract. The athlete is now at it’s highest prestige level. Their overall talent and game-changing skills has not only been recognized, it has turned that into athlete into a made man. This is the contract that opens the door to an exclusive membership. Cuba Gooding Jr. said it best as Rod Tidwell in the 1996 film Jerry MaguireRead more of this post

The TFB Week In Review … June 5th-11th, 2011 Part Two

The NBA FINALS: Will The Real LeBron Please Stand Up?

 

 ~ The NBA Finals is about to reach it’s grand finale and it’s been a great ride so far. The storyline should be how great these games have been between Miami and Dallas. However, a storyline that’s been 12 months in the making has taken centerstage, the mystery of what happened to LeBron James: The Basketball Player.

 

He didn’t show in game 4, by far the worst we have ever seen him play on the big stage. He was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter and Miami lost that game. In game 5 James at least showed up long enough to post a triple double. However, those numbers had no impact when it mattered most … the 4th quarter. Miami lost that game as well.

 

He hasn’t exactly been “King James” in this series. The man who is supposed to be nearly unstoppable on the court has been nothing close to that. Now the series heads back to South Beach with Dallas 1 win away from a championship and James possibly headed for the longest summer of his professional career.

 

No one really knows why James has not been the dominant player everyone knows he’s capable of being. It’s possible he could be trying to fit in too much onto Dywane Wade’s team instead of just playing his game. What is certain though is that James is in danger of damaging his reputation on the court. The doubters and the critics have had a field day with his free fall to this point. Miami can still come back and win the championship, however James has to get back to being himself. Anything less and the question will continue to linger, championship or not … When will we see the real LeBron James?

 

RED SOX-YANKEES: Does Boston Have The Yanks Number?

 

 

Another Red Sox-Yankees series at Yankee Stadium this season ended with another Red Sox Sweep. It’s only June and the baseball season has a long way to go. However, Boston is clearly comfortable playing in the Bronx this season. Proof of that was David Ortiz launching home runs off of Yankee pitching throughout the series. The Red Sox appear to be primed for a big summer and the Yankees may have to make sure they at least lock up the wild card instead of going after the division.

 

A lot of the Yankees summer plans determine on the state of their now very fragile pitching. The starting rotation is full of question marks after CC Sabathia. The bullpen was projected to have a big season for the Yankees, instead they have become walking M.A.S.H unit. Pedro Feliciano, Rafael Soriano, and not Joba Chamberlain have all gone down. Chamberlain’s loss was a surprise and a major blow. He’s facing Tommy John surgery which could put him out 12-14 months.

 

 

The next time these two teams meet will be in August. The Yanks are going to have to make a statement in that series that will set a tone for the stretch run in September. The American League East is going to come down to who’s the healthiest at the end of the season. The anticipation will now pick up to see who the Yankees will go after at the trade deadline, that’s if Boston doesn’t beat them to the punch.

MLB > The Yankees & Mets vs. Father Time & A Budget

 

 

 ~ When the baseball season started this year, fans in New York City were prepared for the expected. The Yankees making the playoffs and another run at a championship. The Mets … not so much. It started out looking that way through most of April. The Yankees were on top of the American League East and the Mets near the bottom of the National League East. This is baseball though and that means it’s a 162 game season with an array of sub plots. “It ain’t over til it’s over” and it’s far from over. However we are now heading into June and the sub plots have drowned out the expectations for both teams. While the Mets are quietly playing good baseball lately, the Yankees are not only playing poorly they are imploding off the field.

The off the field issues were supposed to be all about the New York Mets in 2011. The team came into this year under great financial stress from the fallout of the Maddoff / Ponzi scandal. This led to them not being very active in the free agent market and faced with many questions concerning their core players. After years of spending big money on big name free agents and signing off on big contracts, the Mets are now learning how to win on a budget. When a team is faced with money problems, like any other franchise or business payroll has to be reduced. That definitely effects what you do with your star players. Jose Reyes is in a contract year. Carlos Beltran is near the end of a long term contract and most likely won’t get another one. David Wright has been the face of the team since 2005, is he still an untouchable or is it time to move him? Thats a lot of questions to address without the money to help answer them. Surprisingly though, the Mets have been better on the field than expected so far this season. They gave been hit with the injury bug hard so far. However, new manager Terry Collins has gotten the most out of a team that didn’t look very good on paper.

Over in the Bronx, the Yankees lately have been looking more like the old “Bronx Zoo” teams of the past than the dynasty they have restored over the last 15 years. The bottom line with the Yankees is that like any other sports dynasty, eventually the players get old and have to be replaced. When that time comes for many of those players, feelings are hurt and the business becomes the new reality. Now imagine that scenario for a team that has a lineup full of all-stars and icons. Jeter, A-Rod, Posada, Sabathia … these are are not just everyday players.

 

 The Yankees are known for their air-tight Public Relations machine. Fans are used to hearing about the players coming in and putting on “The Pinstripes” and doing things “The Yankee Way”. There is a code of ethics that comes along with being a Yankee. The Yankees are more than a major league baseball team, they are more than a franchise, they are a brand. Winning is the only results that matter, no matter how much it cost. It’s a philosphy that has brought them championships and yearly playoff expectations.

This year and for the first time since the winning started up again back in the mid 90’s, the Yankees are faced with a hurdle they had hoped to avoid at all costs. Derek Jeter. Jorge Posada. Father Time. Yes … Father Time is a member of the New York Yankees. Father Time is a member of many teams in professional sports. His role is not a popular one, however it is a mandatory one. As an athlete, when Father Time knocks on the door, it can only be ignored but for so long. Eventually that athlete has to open the door. It does not discriminate and it is not bias. Michael Jordan had to answer that knock. He did it in a Washington Wizards uniform.

The Yankees already have lost Andy Pettitte to a knock on the door. Only they and Derek Jeter actually know how close things were to losing him as well. Jeter has struggled this season on the field and one can only wonder if it’s because Jeter is hearing the knocks on the door. He’s 36 years old and already was told for the most part that he’s seen his last long-term contract. He has a milestone of 3,000 career hits to reach this season. The season started out with talk of when will the Yankees move Jeter from the leadoff spot in the lineup. (Knock Knock) Before that when Jeter finally re-signed with the only team he’s ever played for in the Major Leagues, one of the first questions asked him was what position would he finish his career playing … because it’s not like it’s going to be at shortstop. Right? (Knock Knock) Currently the Captain is struggling to hit the same fastballs he’s used to knocking the opposite field for extra bases or clutch base hits. The talk has now become will Jeter even finish out his new contract that he accepted after bitter negotiations.

 

Jorge Posada has definitely heard the knocks of Father Time recently. It reflects in his numbers. A non-baseball fan could look at .165 and realize that’s not a good batting average for a baseball player. Maybe someone who bowls for a hobby. Not for a professional baseball player and definitely not for a New York Yankee. At 39 years old, Posada knows the end is near for his career and like any other proud athlete, the urge to go out on his own terms is a strong one. It’s just not working out that way for him. He has been the starting Catcher for the Yankees the majority of his 16 year career. This season he is only the Designated Hitter (DH). Posada was recently dropped to the bottom of the lineup and it didn’t go well with him. Who’s to blame? Upper Management? Posada? How about neither? It’s simply the sounds of knocking at the door.

Most baseball experts and fans will say that it’s only May and there is plenty of baseball to be played in the season. This is true and if there is any team that has the talent to turn things around right away, it’s the Yankees. They have struggled early in the season before and still found their way to the playoffs in October. However this is a little different this year. The Yankees don’t just have players in their All-Star lineup struggling, they have household names who are struggling. Upper management has not handled it well. The reality though is no matter how strong the Public Relations machine is for the Yankees, it would not have prevented the headlines that have recently come up. It only will get more complicated from here on. CC Sabathia’s contract status is up after the season and Alex Rodriguez is still A-Rod, just a year older now. The knocks at the door continue to get louder. Father Time is making his rounds at Yankee Stadium right now. Eventually, you have to let him in.

 

 The off the field issues are still there for the Mets and playing well right now could eventually lead to a very difficult business decision to make in the summer. Hypothetcially, if the Mets continue to play this week up until the trade deadline in July then will they clean house or make a run for the playoffs? It’s a decision that could impact the team’s revune problems in a major way. The nightmare for the Mets is possibly playing baseball in the summer in front of very little fan support at Citi-Field. That’s attendance that could go a long way in helping payoff debts that have become national headlines.

Which team has it worst right now? The Yankees vs. Father Time? The Mets vs. The Recession? It’s not exactly the debate that baseball fans expected to have when the season started in April. The answers may not be what fans of both teams will want to accept either.

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