Derek Jeter is SI's Sportsman of the Year

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Derek Jeter wasn’t the MVP of his own league in his own sport but, according to Sports Illustrated, he’s now the Sportsman of the Year:

“It’s unbelievable. It was completely unexpected. It came out of the
blue,” Jeter told The Associated Press during a break in the photo
shoot. “When I heard it, what can you say? It’s one of the greatest
honors you can achieve in sports.”

The 35-year-old Jeter is the first Bronx Bomber to be tapped for the
award that has been given out since 1954. Swimmer Michael Phelps was
last year’s recipient.

The Sportsman of the Year Award is something of a moving target, with weird zeitgeisty things having a lot to do with who wins it. Brett Favre won it a couple of years ago for “his perseverance and his passion,which, strangely enough, is one of the reasons everyone likes to hate on him today. The whole Red Sox team won it in 2004, putatively for historical reasons, though strangely enough the 2005 White Sox didn’t get it despite the fact that they broke a longer championship drought. It’s the sort of thing that makes one ask (heaven forbid) whether magazine sales have just as much to do with the award as athletic accomplishments do.

But it’s not just about on-the-field achievement, of course.  I think the best ever Sportsman of the Year Award came in 1987 when SI gave it to six different athletes, some known, some not-so-well known, citing their charitable efforts as “Athletes Who Care.”  This year SI cites Jeter’s philanthropic work as a big reason for the award.  If that was the main driver, as opposed to simply wanting a Yankee on the cover in a year with little in the way of monster stories, good for SI.

And no matter what SI’s motivation was, good for Derek Jeter.  I have my fun with him from time to time simply because it makes Yankee fanboys crazy, but he is a Sportsman in the truest sense of the term, and he is deserving.

Nationals owner Mark Lerner had his left leg amputated

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Mark Lerner, son of Ted Lerner and a co-owner of the Washington Nationals, had his left leg amputated earlier this month. He was diagnosed earlier this year for a rare form of cancer that a attacks connective tissue and treatment had been ineffective, so doctors removed the limb.

The news was revealed in the form of a letter Lerner wrote to Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga, who had inquired about Lerner’s uncharacteristic absence from the ballpark of late. Lerner:

“With my doctors and medical team, we decided that amputation of that leg was my best choice to maintain the active and busy lifestyle that I have always enjoyed. The limb was removed in early August and I’m healing well, cancer-free, and looking forward to my eventual new prosthetic.”

Lerner, 63, has been known to dress up in a Nats uniform and shag fly balls with the team during batting practice. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and, if his prosthetic allows, some more BP shagging at some point in the future.

New Marlins owners are going to dump David Samson, keep the home run sculpture

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The Miami Herald reports that the future Miami Marlins owners, Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, have informed Major League Baseball that they do not intend to retain current team president David Samson. Derek Jeter will replace him as the person in charge of baseball and business operations.

Samson has been a polarizing figure in Miami and has been seen as Jeff Loria’s front-facing presence in many ways. He led the effort for the team to get its new stadium, which led to political scandal and outrage in Miami (not that he didn’t get his stadium). In 2014, he appeared on “Survivor.” He did not survive.

What will survive, however, is the famous home run sculpture in the outfield at Marlins Park. You’ll recall some reports earlier this week that Sherman and Jeter were thinking about removing it. If so, they’ll have a lot of hurdles to jump, because yesterday the Miami-Dade County government reminded them that it was paid for by its Art in Public Places program, it is thus owned by the county and that it cannot be moved without prior approval from the county.

I know a lot of people hate that thing, but it has grown on me over the years. Not for its own aesthetic sake as much for its uniqueness and whimsy, which are two things that are in extraordinarily short supply across the Major League Baseball landscape. Like a lot of new and different bits of art and architecture over the course of history, I suspect its initial loathing will increasingly come to be replaced by respect and even pride. Especially if the Marlins ever make another World Series run, in which case everything associated with the club will be elevated in the eyes of fans.

On this score, Sherman and Jeter will thank Miami-Dade for saving themselves from themselves one day.