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Derek Jeter

Can Kobe Bryant’s exit echo Derek Jeter’s?

As his latest and greatest of his opposite field singles dribbled into the hands of Baltimore Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis on Thursday night, Derek Jeter rounded first base as his neck snapped to his left. He stared with rapt attention as pinch runner Antoan Richardson raced home and barely beat out Markakis’s laser throw from 250 feet out. Jeter had singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, ending his career at Yankee Stadium with a walk-off, opposite field single in the clutch. No, there was nothing really on the line here except for a meaningless late September win. However, one of the greatest competitors in the history of North American professional sports left the stage on his own two feet as a walk-off winner with a hit that exemplified his entire career.
 
Now, let’s pay no nevermind to the fact that Jeter played both Saturday and Sunday in Boston, though his last at-bat yesterday was an infield single. What the Yankees shortstop will always be remembered for is surely his grand finale at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. As the latest major market sports star retires after a glittering career, it brings into clear focus the same exact scene we could be seeing two years from now when our own Kobe Bryant hangs up his sneakers for good.
 
(More at SS&R)

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Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter: Mirroring one another from beginning to end

The story has been the same for years: if Kobe Bryant nails a game winning shot or Derek Jeter gets a walk-off RBI, the sports world at large shudders in disappointment. Two of the greats in their respective games, reviled by a vocal majority but loved by a passionate fan base of millions, are also two of the easiest players to root against. At this point, there’s really no debate as to whether either man is a Hall of Famer–those honors were cemented years ago. What’s left are simply more records to topple and fellow legends to surpass. They play for the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees, the two lumbering giants in their respective sports. For years, I’ve been saying that there should hardly ever be a case in which the Lakers and Yankees fan bases should be rooting against one another–in so many ways they’re two sides of the same golden coin. Championships are the expected standard and anything short of those lofty heights is considered a monumental failure season upon season. Superstars and sporting luminaries dot the periphery of both franchises, with Bryant and Jeter being just the latest in an endless line of dozens. The Lakers and Yankees operate on very much the same level, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, so it should be to the surprise of no one that the two latest and greatest of their stars mirror one another to great lengths.
 
The parallels run deep between Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, so much so that I’m amazed more isn’t made of their remarkably parallel careers.
 
After a cup of coffee during the 1995 season, Jeter started his first full year with the Yankees in 1996, just two months before Kobe Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft and subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. There’s little doubt that Kobe’s rookie year was a smashing success; though he failed to finish in the top-5 of Rookie of the Year voting (outpaced by winner Allen Iverson and then by such names as Antoine Walker, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Stephon Marbury and Kerry Kittles. For real.), he did garner a place on the All-Rookie Second Team, as well as play a supporting role on a Lakers squad that went to the second round of the playoffs. Bryant did all of this, mind you, as an 18 year-old. What were you doing at that age? Graduating high school? Kobe was throwing down 22 points on the Portland Trailblazers in the first round.
 
Even as Bryant had a solid rookie campaign, Jeter went on to have one of the greatest rookie campaigns in league history. After throwing down a .314 average and seizing the Rookie of the Year award, the fresh faced shortstop led the Yankees in the postseason with a remarkable 22 hits in just 15 games. The Bombers would win their first championship in 18 years that October, thanks in no small part to their rookie sensation. Derek Jeter was just 22 years old.
 
On the hardwood, Kobe’s wait for his first chip was only four seasons, but for him, it felt like an eternity. By the time the 1999-2000 season rolled around, Bryant had met three painful postseason exits despite being part of an extremely talented Lakers team built around world beater Shaquille O’Neal. As hard as it is to believe, Kobe had come up empty in his first postseason–quite literally. The Black Mamba-to-be had airballed four times in an elimination game against the eventual Western Conference champion Utah Jazz in 1997. A year later, the Lakers made it all the way to the C… Read more...

Bronx Tales: With Derek Jeter down, what’s next for the Yankees?

KOBEsh: Derek Jeter out until at least after the All-Star break, if not longer. Vin, where do the Bombers go from here?
 
Vin: Not much of the following will actually answer your question as posed. This is for two reasons, one simple and one so complex even I can’t fully understand it.
 
The simple reason is that it’s not a very hard question to answer. The Captain was supposed to be back by Opening Day. Then he was estimated to be back by sometime in early to mid April. Then people began to accept that he wouldn’t be back until May. Now all we know is the vague and terrifying “sometime after the All-Star break.” But the “next step” for the Yanks never changed with these shifting timetables: Eduardo Nunez needs to fill in for Jeter as the everyday shortstop, just as he did when Jeter went on the DL close to the pinnacle of his 3,000 hit chase in 2011. The Yanks don’t have any other options really, either in house or elsewhere, besides Jayson Nix (and he’ll only get a chance if Nunez proves too error prone with the glove, which I’m less worried about because he’s been solid so far this year).
 
Nunez has always shown potential with the glove, just not consistency, so it’s not as if he can’t do it. And it seems that being at the same position everyday and knowing he will be there indefinitely is helping him to relax. Bottom line: quality major league shortstops are rare. The Yankees are fortunate to have Nunez, who’s struggled at the plate so far this year but whose track record leads one to believe he can produce as an average major league SS, as the next step.
 
The complex reason is that my usual flourish of wordiness above aside, I don’t really care what the Yankees next step is without Jeter. That was the thing I was worried about second most when I got the news Jeter was going back to see his ankle specialist on Thursday, but in a way that the thing you worry about second most when your house burns down is not having a suit for work the next day.
 
The thing I was preoccupied with is what this means for Derek Jeter’s career going forward.… Read more...

State of the Lakers: The Best Two Awful Losses Ever

The only good part of the Lakers’ week

Statistically, Derek Jeter had a great 2010 season for a shortstop. 111 runs scored, 67 RBI, 10 homers, 18 stolen bases and a low, but respectable .270 batting average. But the reality was that anyone that watched Derek Jeter in 2010 would tell you that it was the Captain’s worst year of his career. He hit a career-low .270 to go along with a .710 OPS (barely league average), and lacked the dynamic flare on the field that was always buoyed by his world-famous competitiveness.  Whether it was age catching up with him, or it was just a player, even one of Jeter’s immense stature and reputation, having a down year, DJ knew that he had to change in order to stay relevant in a league that he had for so long lorded over. 

When the 2011 season started, much talk was made of how Jeter had tinkered with his swing in the offseason. Rather than the inside-out swing that helped the Yanks get to number 27, his motion became longer, the circumference of his bat movement wider and his stride almost non-existent. Both the coaching staff and Jeter thought that this would the Captain improve with age, relying on mechanics and his hitter’s guile rather than the quickness and explosion that had helped him become one of the greatest ever to play the game. While a simple swing of the bat doesn’t seem like a major change, even minor adjustments in a hitter’s mechanics can be just as drastic as say, changing a team’s coach or making a huge in-season trade. It’s monumental. Could be, anyway.
Well, it didn’t work. DJ ended up on the 15-day disabled list in June, only after hitting a meager .260 with a .649 OPS. He came back in July, dropping a winter’s worth of hard work and adjustment, and went back to the swing that made him the Yankees all-time hit leader. And, impressively, it worked. Though certainly not the player he was for the majority of his career, Jeter bounced back to a massive second half, raising his batting average to .297 and his OPS to .743.
Sometimes adjustments back to form work, like Derek Jeter. He realized a weakness, tried to change it and realized that perhaps that wasn’t the answer to begin with. Perhaps a refocused, back-to-basics approach would be the only solution to his declining production. He was right, but this methodology isn’t always the correct solution.
After Finals collapse to the underdog Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 decided that the Phil Jackson era was over, that the triangle offense was a antiquated method to construct and operate a basketball team. New coach Rudy Tomjanovich was brought in to lead Kobe Bryant’s team, sans Shaquille O’Neal, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher, and forge a new direction for the Lakers.
It didn’t work. Halfway through the season, Tomjanovich quit, citing that the stress of the job had brought on health issues, and Jackson assistant coach Frank Hamblen was brought back to implement the triangle offense, to little success. The Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and it was the only time in the past 12 seasons Kobe didn’t get a single MVP vote. Hamblen’s interim coaching stint turned out to be a prelude to Phil Jackson’s return, which was hugely successful, but only if you consider three more NBA Finals and win two more titles success.
That was the smarmiest thing I might have ever said about the Lakers, but I’m coping with a rough sports week. Let me be.
So here we are with these Los Angeles Lakers. Last year’s teaRead more...

DJ3K

Everybody knows that I love the NBA. And while I thoroughly enjoy me some hoop game, there isn’t a single basketball player I love more than Derek Jeter. He is my Kobe (cheat on Minka all you want bro, I’ll forgive you for the obvious lapse in judgment). That aside, I could go on and basically say everything that will be repeated in his HBO special or in the imminent ESPN montage featuring someone like Tim Kurkjian, but you guys aren’t reading MAMBINO for that (you’re reading because KOBEsh and I are your friends and you feel bad for us). But maybe…just maybe…you don’t know this fact.

Since 1900, there has been one player in MLB history who has recorded 10 years of 190+ hits, 10+ HRs, and 10+ SBs.

ONE.

People love to hate Jeter. And even in New York, where he obviously gets the most love, the haters exist in bunches. But he’s way more legit than even his biggest fans give him credit for.

For example, his infield slap hits have become more and more frequent these days, but the man has ELEVEN seasons with an adjusted OPS+ over 110. Only one other player in the history of the sport has more (Honus Wagner, 13 seasons).

His range has declined rather steadily and he can’t do his picturesque jump throw from the hole all the way to first. But he’s 37 years old! Do me a favor and do something athletic today. Distance running and cardio workouts don’t count. Run a suicide. Try a bootleg long jump. Something that makes your athletic fiber twitch. Then try the same exact thing 10 years from now. If you can do it as well as you did it today, go eff yourself, because steroids are for douchebags and you clearly cheated.

He’s making an absurd $17 milly this year and for each of the next couple of years as well. But that’s not his fault. Last week I got a bonus because I had to put in extra work after my secretary quit. Didn’t deserve it at all, but you better believe I would rather die than return money, regardless of whether or not I actually earned it.

3,000 hits is special. 3,000 hits as a Yankee, when Ruth/Gehrig/Joe D/Mantle haven’t done it, is HEAVEN. Even my buddy Kingraj, who doesn’t particularly like the Yanks, was on the edge of his seat last night hoping Jeter didn’t get hits…just so he can see DJ3K live on Saturday.

I would say I don’t ask for a lot, but that would be a lie. I enjoy asking people for everything because it allows me to do as little as possible. But don’t blow it guys; watch some DJ ABs this weekend. After all, it’s only history.

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