By Jason Keidel
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To dare declare that Derek Jeter is anything but God is to blaspheme, to torch the American flag, to go Soviet on our Union, to spit on apple pie.
Anything remotely objective about the man spawns a phalanx of rabid foes. I’ve been called a hater, a Mets fan, a cad and a communist. How dare we suggest that Jeter is human?
Even when all the evidence suggests he is…
And we need only look before us, in front of us, at this year.
Jeter said his ankle healed perfectly before it snapped again. Then it must be the most profound coincidence in this history of American medicine that he suffered a break in the exact same spot. Then he tweaks his quad eight innings into his comeback. This doesn’t happen to Gods.
Jeter was atypically but refreshingly funny after the game, deflecting and redirecting and mimicking the reporters lobbing some softball questions his way.
“Did you sleep in the limo, Derek?”
“I slept two hours at home.”
“Yes, dearest Derek, but did you sleep in the car?”
This is hard hitting stuff. Would make Woodward & Bernstein blush.
Even Mike Francesa, as devoted to Jeter as anyone on radio, had to laugh at the pillow-talk presser yesterday.
Sure, I enjoy calling his worshipers out on their infantile fawning. But as a Yankees fan I’m acutely aware of his eminence. He will soon join his single-digit predecessors in Cooperstown and Monument Park, where he belongs. He is that great.
His scripted platitudes and monotone mien are somewhat frustrating. But 3,000 hits and a .300 average more than compensate for his undertaker’s countenance. No one, not even Ruth, handled the burden of pinstripes with more dignity than Jeter.
Skip Bayless committed the ultimate treason last season when he said it’s fair to ask if Jeter ever used PEDs. Unlike Mariano Rivera, who has been wafer-thin his entire career and never had a palpable dip in production, Jeter indeed seemed on the way out two years ago. Then last year he returned to his 15-year form, swatting 216 hits.
Bayless is a blowhard, for sure, a pure narcissist who throws semantic sewage against the wall to see what sticks. But the larger narrative that no one is beyond suspicion is salient.
Except Jeter, especially in New York City. Not even I am dumb enough to question Jeter’s integrity. Not if I ever care to show my face in the five boroughs. We just need to chill on the deification. Something about worshiping false Gods and what not.
The point is that Jeter is getting old. Very old. If you don’t believe me and won’t listen to reason or history, just listen to his body, which is quitting on him. If his quad survives Friday’s MRI, then something else will break, snap or pull. It is the prerogative of Father Time, who is undefeated.
It’s sad. But it’s hardly tragic. When it happens to you, no one cares. When it happens to Captain America, everyone cares. Too bad he’s not God.
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