Howard Bryant’s latest ESPN column considers Derek Jeter. It starts thusly:
THE MAGIC OF baseball will always live in the storytelling
Pretty lucky for Bryant, given that he’s a storyteller! Anyway:
— the grandeur of Ruth, the Midwestern identification with Musial, the unbreakable Robinson and the complex defiance and moral ambiguity of Bonds. It’s what gives life to the statistics. Unfortunately, in the age of Moneyball and fantasy leagues, the numbers have been detached from, and become more important than, the players. All but one.
Know what? I still think the players are the most important thing in baseball. We could all stop playing fantasy baseball and reading sabermetric articles and, heck, even keeping statistics, and I bet there would still be major league baseball games with millions of people attending. Indeed, I’m almost positive this is true.
But even with that aside, I’m just not buying any of what Bryant is selling. Which is, in short that “Jeter’s intangibles and leadership are what make him a Hall of Famer,” to quote the little caption under the graphic on top.
Yes, there are great stories about Derek Jeter. But there are great stories about Joe Charboneau too. Yes, Jeter apparently has some great intangibles. But he also happens to have some AMAZING FREAKING TANGIBLES.
If no one ever wrote a single word about Jeter that didn’t appear in a game story, he’d be a Hall of Famer. That’s because he’s one of the best shortstops who ever lived and has multiple World Series rings. Those things are tangible.
I’ve never understood the desire for so many to engage in Derek Jeter mythmaking. The reality is so awesome already. Why don’t we make myths about Nick Punto? That guy could use some help!