By Jake McCormick
Brett Favre is to football as Derek Jeter is to baseball. Minus the indecisiveness and pathological narcissism, of course.
Jeter is considered one of the better all around shortstops in the history of baseball, especially when the camera’s flashbulbs seem brightest. The same can be said in many respects to Brett Favre, as much as it pains me to say it as a Packer fan and disdainer of Favre’s Machiavellian “ends justify the means” attitude. But like it or not, Favre and Jeter are both aged wonders squeezing crunch time plays out of their arms and bats in October and November.
Both players are heralded as demi-Gods for bringing a team back from the dead in the 1990s, and as a result have induced a biel trip to the mouth of many fans every time the media fawns over their careers. Only one of them is still servicing the fans that first took him in, but a defection may very well become another shared trait in a year.
Derek Jeter is a free agent after 2010. That means that he will be a 36 year old shortstop that is already considered one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game, enough so that he received that shout out on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But the obvious dilemma for the Yankees lies in the fact that Jeter at 35 has been just as valuable as Jeter at 25. He hit over .320 in three out of the last four seasons, and topped 30 stolen based in that same time period.
In an all-too predictable American League path of least resistance, Jeter seems destined to take over a less demanding physical position like first base or as a designated hitter. This is where things could get juicy.
Mark Teixiera is more immobile on the Yankees’ right side than Jabba the Hutt drunk on his sail barge, and Hideki Matsui most likely won’t be in pinstripes next year. If the Yankees have any common sense or money, which I heard is in short supply after the Steinbrenners decided to spend their remaining cash on painting a Yankee uniform the Statue of Liberty. (This was done per the fans’ demands.)
In a perfect world, Jeter is re-signed before the end of 2010 spring training and shows no disdain for changing positions to save his shelf life. Otherwise, we’d have to brace for the Perfect Storm of media members as Jeter and LeBron James waffle like Favre over which multimillion dollar contract they want to sign.
But Jeter could pull a Favre and resent management telling him he isn’t bigger than the team itself, thus setting the stage for his possible move to the Mets, Los Angeles Angels, or the Minnesota Vikings; I mean, Boston Red Sox. My guess is that this is a non-issue and Jeter will carry himself with class as much as he always has by remaining a Yankee, regardless of his position.
But if any baseball player could parallel Brett Favre in his success and polarization, it would have to be Jeter. I would just hope Jeter doesn’t just tell his fan base that business comes first if he dons a Red Sox uniform.
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