“The Yankees have not won a World Series championship now in six years -- a
long, awful lifetime by the standards of this franchise. Jeter, the Yankee
captain, was 26 then. He is 32 now, and perhaps can better appreciate the finite
nature of an athletic career. He certainly played with a controlled urgency that
suggested it was so. His jersey was the dirtiest on the field. His fist-pumps
were the most emphatic.”
I come here not to bury Derek Jeter – far from it. As much as it pains me to admit it, Jeter’s a real, live legitimate stud. He’s probably the American League’s Most Valuable Player for 2006. As a fan of the Yankees’ major rival, I state unequivocally that he scares me more than any other Yankee when he comes to the plate in crucial situations. Jeter doesn’t suck, even if A-Rod might swallow.
Here’s the thing, though. You’d think that the media who swoon for Jeter every year when the weather starts to turn could be convinced to do a modicum of research before the annual coronation. For all the legend-making, Jeter’s postseason numbers are a fairly consistent mirror of his regular season marks – he doesn’t “step it up a notch” in the clutch any more than anyone else does. Jeter’s got a career OPS of .851 and a career postseason OPS of .864. He performs extremely well in ALCS competition, posting a 1.023 OPS in the penultimate series, but he actually underperforms his career norms in both the ALDS (a very average .744, even with Tuesday’s explosion) and the World Series (.809 OPS).
As a point of fact, Jeter has the 4th best postseason OPS on the current Yankee roster, behind the much-maligned A-Rod (.923), HGH poster-boy Jason Giambi (.971), and Hideki Matsui (.908). Bernie Williams nearly matches Jeter with his .856 OPS and has outhomered his more-celebrated teammate (22 to 17) and driven in significantly more runs in a similar number of games (80 to 48).
The italics in the quote above are mine. Do you see at least a little bit why the non-Yankee portion of the baseball universe gets a mite tired of the hyperbole? For the record, I can understand why others might feel the same way about David Ortiz (except that his postseason numbers are even better than Jeter’s, and he’s way more fun to listen to. I digress.). Is it too much to ask the media to be creative, to avoid the easy way out for once?
Yeah, I already know the answer to that, too.