I love baseball. It’s not a secret. I spent 12 years in NYC and I watched about a thousand Yankee games.
I only missed Derek Jeter’s first 5 seasons (1996-2000), and his last (2014). Yet, I got to watch him play a lot, on TV, at the stadium, and even on the road, at Shea Stadium.
I saw him win a boatload of regular season games, but for the first 8 years of my NY stay, very little championships.
In 08 it got to a point I thought I cursed them and they would never win again, at least as long as I lived in NY.
And 09 happened. Steinbrenner Co. shelled out half billion dollars on three (3) players and the won the World Series against the Phillies. I’ll never forget it.
Winning the World Series is an epic feat. The best teams play for almost 8 months and LOOSE more games than the best soccer team in the world (think Real Madrid, Barca and Chelsea) will WIN in a calendar year.
About 60 losses.
All in all, a guy like Derek Jeter will play baseball 4 hours a day for 8 months.
Sure, he’ll get a few days off, usually when travelling cross-country.
On a yearly basis, he would win 170 games, loose 70 (post season included).
And he did it for 20 years.
Now I’m back in Europe, watching a Champion League game. I love soccer. Unlike baseball, which I learned late in life in Queens, NY, with my brothers Al, Larry, Chicken, a heavy hitting / fastball throwing who’s name I forgot and 20 other Queens raised 30 year-old ballers, I played soccer as a kid.
There’s no Derek Jeter in soccer.
CR7 and Messi, soccer two brightest stars, can score lots of goals. No doubt about it.
CR7 scored a meaningless goal at the end of last year’s Champions League final (on a penalty kick at the very last second of a 4-1 game) and went on to (madly) celebrate, removing his shirt and all. I rooted for his team, yet, I felt embarrassed.
Messi missed a meaningless penalty kick the day before yesterday. He left the stadium angrily, without saying a word to the press, despite his team winning a big game, passive-aggressive style.
“Don’t be so sensitive,” Steph.
I’m not sensitive. I understand why people love these two guys. They are good. I mean really good. Very marketable. An extrovert, an introvert. Very mainstream. Perfect…
Now, just imagine if Derek Jeter had played soccer instead of baseball and had become DJ2 instead of #2.
Unlike CR7, Jeter would score when it mattered the most.
And when he’d score, he’d pump his first (barely), or slap his hands, and get back to work. This is a guy who hit 260 HR and never contemplated a single one, not even the one he hit in November, back in 01, when the city was trying to heal and needed some cheering.
Unlike Messi, Jeter would never let the game dictate his mood. At least openly.
When he’d fail (baseball is a game of failure; the best players fail 70% of the time), he’d never let anyone see how he felt about it.
I won’t lie. Sometimes, I wanted Jeter to be mad at himself for hitting into a DP or for killing a 9th inning rally, to throw his helmet, to break a bat. But looking back, I’m glad he never did any of this.
As competitive has he must have been, Jeter understood that baseball was only a game, and that respect and fair play mattered much than a win.
Soccer needs a few Derek Jeters.
Spring is upon us.
God I miss baseball.