DJ3K: If You Don't Appreciate Derek Jeter, You Don't Get Sports

Jason KurtzContributor IIJuly 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 09:  Minka Kelly (C) cheers after a hit by Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Full disclosure:  I'm NOT a Yankees fan and not necessarily a big Derek Jeter fan.  

Heck, I don't really even like American League Baseball—the DH, five-hour games, and 11-9 slugfests?  No thank you.  

However, I do appreciate excellence when I see it.  

And Derek Jeter is excellent.  

Let's review:  He joined the most-competitive baseball fraternity in existence, in the most judgmental and critical sports town in America.  

Some 15 seasons since, he's captured five rings and the hearts of Yankees fans everywhere from Kalamazoo to Cooperstown.

He was born to wear pinstripes, to embrace New York City, and to glow beneath the brightest spotlight in all the game.  He has enough personal accolades to fill Mickey's Mantlepiece and a series of historical moments so dramatic, even Bob Costas would be at a loss for words.  

But above all, he's done it with class, and he's done it clean.  

Having played the bulk of his Hall of Fame career during the steroid era, Jeter is quick to point out that "no, not everyone was doing it."  

Neither a whistle-blower (see Jose Canseco) or a blow-hard (see Curt Schilling), Jeter quietly goes about his business, leading by example and exemplifying what it means to be a professional.

Along the way he blew past milestones, scooped up awards, and always came out for B.P. the next afternoon. So when he stepped to the plate on July 9th, 2011 sitting on 2,999 career hits and calmly pulled a 3-2 off-speed pitch into the seats in left for a game-tying homer and his 3,000th career hit, one could only shake their head and say, "Of course he did."  

Neither a pull-hitter nor a home run hitter, he's always been a dramatic hitter. So, to have this milestone come in this place, in this way, is so very Derek Jeter.

You need not be in love with "Jetes."  And you need not bleed Yankee blue. But you must respect what he does, and how he does it.  

Otherwise, you're missing the whole ballgame.