The house that Jeter built?
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
For those of you that were sitting on the edge of your seats anticipating that first special moment in the new Yankee Stadium, your long wait is over.
Derek Jeter - who else - delivered that moment on Thursday when he tied the legendary Lou Gehrig as the all-time hits leader for the storied franchise.
If there has been one knock on the new ballpark, it is that it possesses an almost-museum-like feel at times, thanks to the exorbitant ticket prices down below which have led to the proliferation of the "wine and cheese" crowd, rather than the hot dog and beer-swilling following that had grown so accustomed to rocking the Bronx in October.
On Wednesday, though, that stadium shook like the one across the street when Jeter delivered his seventh inning single to match the Iron Horse with his 2,721st hit as a Yankee. That display left little doubt that when the playoffs roll around in a few weeks, the Yankees will have that same home-field advantage they have always enjoyed.
And the way things are going, the Yankees are going to have homefield advantage throughout the postseason.
As for the record itself, I guess it is a big deal considering who Jeter is on the verge of passing. When you hear someone's name mentioned alongside Lou Gehrig, it is a pretty big deal. But honestly, I cannot believe how much play this has gotten nationally.
If I had asked you last year who was the Yankees' all-time hits leader, could you have told me it was Gehrig? Who is the all-time hits leader for the Chicago White Sox? Anyone? It's Luke Appling (2,749).
I don't want to knock Jeter. He is what is right about baseball. He is the player you want your kids to emulate. This whole hits-record thing, though, has just left a bad taste in my mouth.
It is almost like the Yankees are going out of their way to honor Jeter for something because he is not going to have many of these kinds of days, at least not like the greats of Yankee past to whom he has been compared over the last week or so.
He has never won an MVP - and anyone who thinks he should win one this year should have their head examined - he has never won a batting title, has been labeled the worst defensive shortstop in the game by some and is often accused of being overrated all-around.
I have always said you have to watch Jeter day-in and day-out to appreciate what he does. People who say he is overrated really have no idea what they are talking about.
But this discussion about where he ranks among the all-time Yankee greats is mind-boggling.
Jeter is a nice player, and provided he stays healthy is going to get 3,000 hits easy. In fact, he is within reasonable reach of Pete Rose's all-time hits record. But can you see Jeter playing into his 40's? I can't, but that does not matter, he is going to approach 4,000 hits without breaking a sweat and is a lock five-year Hall of Famer.
But when it comes to the all-time Yankee greats, Jeter is sitting at the children's table, while Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra dine in style.
I don't even think Jeter is the best Yankee of this era. Who has been more important to the Yanks over the course of their run, Jeter or Mariano Rivera? Forget being the best Yankee, I think Rivera is the best player of this generation, period.
Yet I am seeing all these lists over the last few days that have Jeter listed right behind the Big-5, with Mariano Rivera a few slots behind him. The things that make Rivera, namely his consistent dominance, reliability and professionalism, are the same reasons he is underrated. When it is all said and done, Rivera is the one who is going to be sitting at the big table and rightfully so. Not a slight to Jeter, but he is not Mariano Rivera.
To me, Derek Jeter's career is defined in two plays, the amazing flip in the ALDS against Oakland in 2001, and his tumbling catch into the stands against Boston in 2004. That is who Derek Jeter is. He is one of the most instinctively sound and clutch players I have ever seen and puts one thing above everything else, and that is winning.
Jeter's value has always been based on team accomplishments and the unmatched intangibles he brings to the game. Don't start trying to make it about the numbers with him now, because all you do is diminish why he is held in such high regard.