I decided to watch the HBO documentary on Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit last night. (feel free to skip this part if you only want to read about on-the-field stuff)
Conceptually, it felt like something hastily thrown together. It was a “see-it-now” version of something which might have been a pretty interesting book years ago. Instead of a writer trailing Derek for the season, we got HBO’s cameras tailing him for approximately two weeks. Cut-print-package, and its On-Demand a few weeks later. The thing is, that about as deep a look into Jeter’s life as most of us have ever gotten, which made watching it worthwhile for me.
The biggest thing I took from the documentary is that (not shockingly), Derek Jeter is a super-fucking-duper star. This guy may have the media/star thing figured out better than just about anyone I’ve seen come through this town. Forget the MTV Cribs generation, it felt weird and kind of cool to be in Jeter’s dope apartment. He walked out front, patted the doorman on the back and hopped into his Ford (yeah, he apparently does drive a Ford at times). No paparazzi, no fanfare, just hit and go. When he acknowledges that he’s on HBO and curses, its jarring, and then you realize that it shouldn’t have been. The fans and media have built up a St. Jeter thing that is extremely prevalent, and Jeter doesn’t do things to discourage it. He says the right thing, he never overexposes, and he projects a humility that people eat right up. Hell, how many super-duper-stars’ parents do we easily recognize and know on a first name basis(Iverson and LeBron’s mom) much less an unassuming, polite and pleasant interracial couple?
Jeter has dated a litany of the hottest women around, but they almost never become a Kate Hudson-sized star because of it, and if they seem to be headed that way it’s onto the next (Maraiah). We know who Minka Kelley is, and she’s been named the “hottest woman in the world” by some magazine or another, but she’s not constantly primping in the media or being photographed on Jeter’s arm. This is due in large part to the fact that we hardly ever see Jeter out being anything but a ballplayer or participating in a carefully controlled media event. That is why it was so unusual to get an inside look behind the scenes somewhat.
The key moment for me came after the 3000 hit game, when Jeter is making the whirlwind media rounds. He is headed toward the media room when he runs into Jay-Z. Jay-Z is one of the biggest stars in the world, and prides himself on that fact. He bragged to have made “the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can”. Jeter greets him warmly, but then fires off “are you gonna be here for a minute?” as he’s walking away. Jay-Z thinks for a second, seemingly considering “is Jeter expecting ME to wait for HIM?”, before responding “OK”.
So yeah, I watched the documentary before watching the Yankees-Royals game last night. Jeter went 2-6 with a double and two RBI. His average now stands at .283, with an OPB of .344 and an OPS of .716. Earlier this season, the pressure was on Jeter, with the “has he lost it?” whispers getting louder and louder. When he went on the DL with a calf injury his average sat at .260, with a .324 OBP and a .648 OPS. When you consider that in 37 games he has raised his batting average .23 points, his OBP .20 points and his OPS .68 points. This all equates to hitting about .323 (estimated) during a time in which the Yankees have reclaimed first-place in the AL East.
Now there is still plenty of baseball to go, and his current average is still .30 points below his career mark. But the signs are there suggesting that maybe more of the old Jeter remains than had previously been thought. He’s collected 11 hits in his last 5 games. In the month of August he is batting .382 with an OPS of .906, 21 hits, 12 runs and 10 RBI. Gardner may still be the better leadoff hitter situationally, but as we hit the dog days the Captain is seeming more and more like himself. Alex Rodriguez is on his way back, and the lineup which features Teixeira and Granderson near the top of AL offensive players plus an emerging Cano gets longer and longer for opposing pitchers.