In Los Angeles, as far as Major League Baseball gets from the Bronx, there was very little talk of Derek Jeter's quest to pass Lou Gehrig as the New York Yankees' franchise record-holder in number of hits.
Yet on the other coast, from Chi-Town to Charleston, from Tampa Bay to Boston's Back Bay, news of the Yankee captain's search for greatness was a headline. Thanks mostly to ESPN's East Coast bias, the story of Jeter's climbing to the highest rung of the Pinstripe ladder became an important one. What was once a 10-second factoid on the Yankee Stadium scoreboard became a nationally anticipated event.
But is it truly worth all the fanfare? After all, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has a very loose policy, but a policy nonetheless: Franchise records are of little to no consideration in regards to a player's credentials for the Hall.
Jeter's eclipsing Gehrig happened in the same week that NFL football kicks off, and in the same week that Yankees rival David Ortiz became the all-time home runs leader at the DH position (a record that some think would be held in a much higher regard than a Yankees franchise record).
Do Yankees players and the records they break get too much credit? Had someone broken the Kansas City Royals' franchise record for hits, I'm quite certain Papi would be the No. 1 story.
But this is different. This isn't Kansas City. We're talking about New York, and we're talking about the Yankees. And while it's true that the Royals franchise record is a greater number of hits than the Yankees record (George Brett amassed 3,154 hits), it somehow means a lot more in New York.
Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle—these are all household names. They may not have had as many hits as George Brett, but they're definitely more well known. Those names are synonymous with baseball. Those names are synonymous with the New York Yankees.
As is Derek Jeter.
The Yankees are prestigious. The Yankees are winners. The Yankees, love them or hate them, are the epitome of professionalism in sports
But more so than anything, the Yankees are representative of class and Derek Jeter is the biggest reason the Yanks maintain that image today.
Derek did it without steroids or HGH. Derek did it without being on the cover of every paper, in every tabloid, and on every red carpet.
Derek does the Yankees and himself a great service in the way he operates, carries himself, and most importantly, the way he plays. He's respectful, and he's respected.
It's almost time for the article to be over, for you to write comments and e-mails about my blatant homer-ism for the Yanks and for Jeter. My allegiance to the Pinstripes has colored my thinking when I say how important the Yankees franchise is and how important Jeter is to that franchise.
But please realize one thing as you read: This article comes from the keyboard of a New Englander, a Sox fan, and a true Yankee Hater. But even I can't deny the greatness of what Jeter's done, I can't deny the greatness of the Yankees.
After all, baseball's all about the numbers, and numbers are something the Yankees have to flaunt.
So, to answer the question, "Is Jeter's record worth all the hubbub?": Of course it is. It's not easy to climb that Yankee ladder.
There are a lot of rungs, that when stepped on, echo greatness.
At first it starts "Maris." The next, "Yogi."
You keep climbing, "Bernie." Another, "Mantle." "Ruth." "Gehrig."
Derek Jeter's climbed all the way to the top.
Enjoy seeing No. 2 as he installs a new top rung on that pinstriped ladder while you can. Jeter will certainly be the last one to do so.