Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jeter The MensHealth Cover Boy

Derek Jeter took the front of the MensHealth Magazine a week after Alex Rodriguez graced the cover of a MensVogue Magazine which featured a lengthy retrospective. The article discusses Jeter's competitive spirit and advancement through self-confidence. However, unlike the more sophisticated, aloof and cultured Rodriguez, Jeter involuntarily inspires images of the average Joe American:

The 33-year-old Jeter answers the door himself. He's wearing jeans and a T-shirt. "Did you have trouble finding the place?" he asks, referring to the dozen or so turns (and 30 or so speed bumps) on the way to this place.

"Nope, Mapquest has you pegged pretty good," I say.

"Aw, that's cheating," he replies, and I think he means it. He's taller and leaner in person than he looks on TV, and I remember that as good as he is, he's still five homers shy of a 200-homer career. With speculation about steroids and human growth hormone use at wildfire levels in baseball, it's refreshing to stand next to a future Hall of Famer who looks like a normal guy.

And who has a normal guy's house: The foyer is dominated by an indoor putting green, the kind you can adjust for break. Stacks of DVDs flank a big-screen TV tuned to ESPN. The only item that reminds you of the home's owner is the replica 1996 World Series trophy on a nearby shelf.

The lack of pretension is disarming. But yeah, the guy who just plopped down in an easy chair and put his foot up is the captain of the Yankees, the 1996 Rookie of the Year, the eight-time All-Star, the four-time World Champion, and the guy who should be joining the 3,000-hit club early in the 2011 season, just before he turns 37. Jeter is already considered one of the greatest of Yankees, and he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer to be sure.

The fact that A-Rod and Jeter are different people is not anyone's fault. The fact that the mainstream media and some impetuous fans continue to ask that they change, is. Rodriguez will never be as savvy and charming as Jeter, and the Captain will never be as vulnerable or "human" as A-Rod has been in the past. They are who they are, and as of right now, that adds up to the most powerful left side of any major league infield.

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