ST. PETERSBURG — We have a consensus regarding Derek Jeter.
Mind you, it’s not based on scientific survey or analytical research, but rather the gut feelings and personal recollections of hundreds of readers who disagreed with a recent column that wondered whether Jeter was overrated.
And, honestly, your gut feelings are good enough for me.
If a majority of fans believe Jeter is near the top of the list of baseball’s greatest players, then they are right. Baseball may be measured by statistics, but it is defined by our passion. It is our recollections of the teams, moments and, yes, players. Fans, ultimately, choose the loftiness of a legacy.
That doesn’t mean my mind has changed. I wrote that Jeter is an all-time great, worthy of today’s first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame, but I think his legend is burnished by factors beyond his performance. And I still feel that way.
The difference today is that it appears I’m in the minority. And I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m kind of pleased.
Baseball needs more players like Derek Jeter. Players with an equal mix of talent and dignity. Players who spend a career in one uniform and one city. Mostly, baseball needs more fans willing to shout, curse and defend those players because the game means that much to them.
So here is a selection of emails I received on the topic. Most were praising Jeter’s career, some were agreeing with me, and a few were annoyed that I suggested rock band Pink Floyd was similarly overrated. Emails were edited for brevity.
Who cares about fangraphs.com?
Jeter is arguably the greatest shortstop that ever played the game. Criticizing his fielding by some fielding charts initiated by an organization named Fangraphs.com, that 99 percent of folks never heard of and is not recognized by MLB is a joke.
Phil Raschiatore, Apollo Beach
There were better shortstops
I thought Jeter was always a dangerous contact hitter, but even in his prime was probably the fourth or fifth best shortstop in the American League. I thought Alex Rodriguez, Nomar (Garciaparra), Royce Clayton, and Omar (Vizquel) were all better shortstops.
Mitch Wilkins, Land O’ Lakes High softball coach
Acting like a rookie writer
It’s hard to believe that on Jeter’s biggest moment of his baseball career that you would write a negative article about him … You are acting like a rookie writer running out of things to write about in a sports town that can’t even support (their) own baseball team. You couldn’t write in a city like New York . ... They would eat you up and spit you out!
Jeff Brown, Valrico
Stop with the defensive stats
I saw Jeter’s whole career with my eyes. He … was one of the best defensive shortstops I have ever seen. Towards the end of his career, of course, he lost some range, age and injuries took their toll. Stop with the defensive stats. The only way to judge defense is with your eyes, period. Everyone gets old my friend, as you will too someday, but don’t write some silly article besmirching perhaps the best pure shortstop to ever play the game.’
Joe D’Ambrosio, Lakeland
Jeter played with class and dignity
Loved the article but I wish we were in field boxes discussing this while watching a ballgame. The social aspects of baseball are what make it interesting. Conversation was created to fill in the periods of inaction during games … I’m not a Yankee fan, far from it. I’m a baseball fan and I appreciate good players, especially those who play with a level of class and dignity. Jeter was one of them.
Gary Zeigler, St. Petersburg
Incorrect, but fascinating take
Jeter is not overrated. There is my vote. From a Yankee hater, Rays fan. Having said that, great article, fascinating take on his defensive play.
Domingo Noriega, Tampa
An asinine devotion to statistics
What is going on in baseball today is a big part of your asinine devotion to statistics and analytics. You won’t be satisfied until baseball is played by machine-like robots in some ethereal dream world. … Soon I’ll be out of earshot from jerks like you.
Alex Kendziorski, Lakeland
Your license should be revoked
Your editorial license to make up crap should be taken away from you … You are so off base I question everything you have ever written. I’ll never bother to read anything you write from now on. You lack all credibility.
James J. Evangelista, Tampa
Thanks for being brave enough to write it
I have been making this argument for years. Yes, Jeter was a good shortstop and won titles but let’s look at the stats. He is nowhere near the top in his position. Again, thank you for being brave enough to write this article in the face of all the snowbirds and Yankees in the bay.
Blaine Stein, Seattle
Make it unanimous
Jeter certainly should be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame. His .310 average, his clutch performances in postseason play, and longevity, and also playing in the fishbowl of N.Y. In the Steinbrenner era, he was beyond approach.’
Fred Kranz, Spring Hill
The image was better than the player at times
Home run!! Great story on Jeter. Not many would have the stones to say it publicly but it’s true. He is a great player, yes, but many of his years were no better than an average Triple-A player. Fans love the image/idol at times.’’
TJ Goodman, Tampa
One of the best ever
Ridiculous article, John. He’s one of the best to ever play the game and the top role model by far.’
Bill Zaremba, Tampa
One of the five greatest Yankees
When you look at the history of the New York Yankees you could not find a more qualified ambassador of the game and a more deserving Yankee that ever put on the pinstripes. He is right up there with the five Yankee greats of all time.’
Joe Yasso, Palm Harbor
Contact John Romano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @romano_tbtimes.