MARINE: Jeter era will never be forgotten in N.Y.

Corey Marine

When Derek Jeter first took the field wearing No. 2 for the New York Yankees in 1995, he was a young, lanky player not far removed from his high school days. But there were still lofty expectations for the rookie. In 1996, he won AL Rookie of the Year and played a significant role on the team that went on to win the World Series against the favored Atlanta Braves.

The shortstop out of Kalamazoo, Mich., mesmerized New York City with his defensive prowess. He would chase down ground balls going to his right, scoop the ball up with his glove while on the run and fire a laser to first base all while falling toward the third base line. At the plate, he maintained his composure. Off the field, he carried himself like an experienced veteran would and managed to stay out of the New York City negative tabloids.

Fourteen years after his debut, the Yankees’ captain has four championship rings, is a 10-time All-Star, has the record for most hits by a shortstop and, most recently, surpassed Lou Gehrig as the Yankee with the most career hits. He has some of the most memorable plays in postseason history and has been nicknamed “Mr. November.” Derek Jeter is the face and the class of the Yankees organization.

As a New Yorker and a lifetime Yankees fan, I find it to be nothing but a pleasure and an honor watching Jeter play. Friday night, I was lucky enough to be in the stands when Jeter passed Gehrig on the all-time Yankees hit list. After an hour and 20-minute rain delay, there was a ceremony commemorating the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. With heavy hearts, the Yankees and Orioles played ball.

After a scoreless frame for Andy Pettite, the captain came to the plate and struck out swinging. He would come up again to lead off the third inning for the Yankees. With the crowd at its feet, Jeter did what he does best. In typical fashion, he waited on a pitch to hit and lined an 0-2 fastball the opposite way past a diving Luke Scott. With the eyes of the baseball world on him, Captain Clutch came through again.

What they say is true. Jeter can do no wrong in the eyes of a Yankees fan and with good reason. The man exudes confidence without being arrogant. He deals with the media well and does not give them any reason to write about him off the field. In an age where athletes proclaim they should not be viewed as role models, he has been a model citizen. He is willing to do anything to help the team, including sacrificing his own body.

The way Jeter is portrayed in the media versus how his teammate Alex Rodriguez is represented is drastically different. Rodriguez was supposed to be the savior of baseball by being the one who would make the home run record clean again. He has since been found guilty of using banned substances, and in Joe Torre’s book “The Yankee Years”, the former Yankees skipper discusses A-Rod’s diva-like status in the clubhouse and his inability to just be “one of the guys.” Despite the awards and accolades, Rodriguez still finds himself occasionally at odds with Yankees fans. Jeter is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Fans love him, and his teammates respect him. The dive into the stands, coming out bloody and bruised, is only an example of what he is willing to do, and the fans appreciate his effort whenever he steps onto the field.

The integrity of the game still comes into question from time to time because the steroid cloud manages to reappear whenever a big name, like Rodriguez, is linked to performance-enhancing drugs. For many baseball fans across the nation, all their faith left in the game is tied to a handful of players. For many, the Yankees’ captain is the only superstar left to trust. If he is found guilty of using performance enhancers, any chance of the game returning to its former glory is lost. He has promised that he is clean, and because of his résumé, we have no choice but to believe him.

This is why we love him. He carries the weight of a city’s expectations on his shoulders and never complains. He stays quiet whenever the media criticizes him and lets his play do the talking. He gives the team 100 percent whenever he steps onto the field. He may not be the most gifted athlete, but the man knows how to win. It is only a matter of time before he retires, has his number retired, and finds himself immortalized in Cooperstown. Until then, he is still our captain.


Corey Marine is a senior communication major from New York. He can be reached at [email protected].