Never enough

OK, fine, I'll be the bad guy again.

Derek Jeter was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year yesterday, and good for him. Jeter had a great year, he's captain of the World Series champ, etc. But SI editor Terry McDonell just had to go the extra step.

One of the problems I've had with sports media recently is that it's not good enough anymore to praise somebody, now people feel the need to one-up each other with absurd statements and honors. It's not enough to give Jeter the award because of his squeaky clean off-the-field record, his improved defensive play, his dynamite offensive year and because he's a surefire first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Here's a quote from McDonell.

"This verifies my idea that he is on the level of Ruth and Gehrig."

Um, nope. First of all, Gehrig isn't even on the same level as Ruth. The Yankees were not the Yankees before Ruth, and baseball wasn't baseball the way we know it before he began clouting. Ruth started all the Yankee winning and tradition, he was the first real slugger and he pretty much defined the term 'larger than life.' Here are the American athletes on the same level as Ruth in the last 100 years. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson. That's it.

McDonell also called Jeter the greatest shortstop of all-time. This isn't as ridiculous a statement, but one could also argue that he's not even the best shortstop on his team. ARod played eight full years at short, and let's be honest, his career dwarfs Jeter's.

Let me be clear. I have NO PROBLEM with Jeter winning this award. No one else had a great enough year for me to debate it. But why can't giving him the award for all his good attributes and great accomplishments be enough?


  1. Jackie Robinson did great things for baseball and America, but he doesn't belong on that list. The rest of those players changed the way their sports were played and brought them into new levels of mainstream following because of their talent. Jackie Robinson was a great, courageous man and a very good ball player. He might even be a more important figure than Ruth, but he wasn't Ruthian.

  2. I should add that I agree with the rest of the article. I love Jeter and am a big Yankee fan, but he's no Ruth (or Gehrig). I'd say the best comparison in Yankee lore for Jeter would be Dimaggio (although Dimaggio was surely a better player). They both are heroes in NY, lead the team, are social icons, somewhat try to avoid publicity, and have that squeaky clean image while managing to run through supermodels (Marilyn Monroe much?).

  3. Fair point about Robinson. I actually debated putting him on that list as I was writing. Robinson certainly wasn't on the level of the other guys as a player. Socially though, Robinson is probably the most important athlete in history. Ali was a great fighter, but most boxing experts will say he wasn't the greatest heavyweight of all-time, and his social impact is a huge part of his legacy as well. It all depends on how you look at it, I guess. Either way, you obviously see my point. As great as Jeter is, to put him on the level with Ruth is ridiculous. I'm not a Yankee fan, but I can certainly admit that the Yankees are the biggest sports franchise in America and one of the biggest in the world. It could be argued that without Ruth, Yankee history would be much different and not nearly as rich.