Patrick Semansky/ap file photoDerek Jeter plays his last home game with the Yankees today and will retire following Sunday’s season finale.

Patrick Semansky/ap file photoDerek Jeter plays his last home game with the Yankees today and will retire following Sunday’s season finale.

Even if you hate the Yankees, you have to love Derek Jeter

There are two types of baseball fans: Those who love the New York Yankees, and those who hate the Yankees. A more polarizing professional sports franchise in America you will not find.

As such, it makes some sense that we're seeing polarization in the coverage of the retiring Derek Jeter's final days in pinstripes. There appear to be two schools of thought driving the myriad career retrospectives we've been seeing: Jeter is a god, or he's an overrated product of the New York media machine.

The latter perspective is particularly puzzling to anyone who knows even a little bit about New York media. Nowhere else in the world is a celebrity's every move more scrutinized for the purpose of exposing and exaggerating every single imperfection, on and off the field, the ultimate goal being to discredit and disgrace.

Overrated? If anything, Derek Jeter is grossly underrated, and whether you love the Yankees or hate them, you're a fool if you have anything but love for Derek Jeter and all for which he stands. There will never be another player quite like him, and he deserves our eternal respect.

That relentless search for any imperfection? Here's what it turned up on the field: He's not among the all-time greats as a defensive shortstop. Here's what it turned up off the field: Pretty much nothing.

Think about that. The guy has been the most recognizable athlete in the most harsh and unforgiving media market in the world for a couple decades now, and the latter half of his career has played in concert with the explosion of social media, making it that much more difficult to get away with even the most minor indiscretion. Yet the closest thing we've seen to a controversy with Derek Jeter at the eye of the storm has been a since-proven-bogus tale of him sending each of his romantic conquests home with a gift basket that included an autographed baseball.

Call me a pig, but I'd almost like the guy even more if that story were true.

Check that. I'm not sure I could like the guy any more than I do. He's quite simply everything I think a professional athlete should be: Grateful. Loyal. Hard-working. Productive. Involved in the community. Proud but not prideful. And above all else, a winner.

Heading into this season, guess how many meaningless games he played in as a Yankee? One. In 20 years. Granted, Jeter isn't the sole reason the Yankees have been in the playoff hunt every year since he arrived in 1996 and helped restore Gotham's baseball shine, but he's sure as hell been a significant part of every great team they've had, and that he's always been at his best in the postseason tells you all you need to know about his drive and desire.

Hate the Yankees all you want. I'm right there with you. So are a ton of other baseball fans. But if you hate Derek Jeter, you're not much of a baseball fan at all.

Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).

Derek JeterMychael UrbanNew York Yankees

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco lacks housing data that would let it track rental vacancies and prices. New legislation is seeking to change that.<ins> (Photo by Joel Angel Jurez/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Landlords blast proposal to require annual report on rentals as invasion of privacy

Housing inventory could give city better data on housing vacancies, affordability

University of San Francisco head coach Todd Golden coaches his team on defense during a 2019 gameat War Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of the University of San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Stunner in Bubbleville: USF upsets fourth-ranked Virginia

Less than 48 hours removed from a loss to a feeble UMass… Continue reading

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

Most Read