Monday, November 30, 2009

One columnist (not me!) thinks A-Rod, not Jeter, should be Sportsman of the Year

As had been rumored, Sports Illustrated named Derek Jeter today as their Sportsman of the Year. I think it was a great choice. Funny thing is, though - New York Post columnist Joel Sherman doesn't. He thinks the award should have gone to Alex Rodriguez.

Sherman wrote this in his blog entry about the Jeter rumors:
Alex Rodriguez should be the Sportsman of the Year. Before you hit me with how that title should go to someone who embodies the best in sports let’s remember that both Pete Rose and Mark McGwire have won the award, and before long we might remember that Tiger Woods has won twice.

Jeter has a brilliant year in which he became the all-time Yankees’ hit leader while remaining a high-level star who wears his pinstripes well on and off the field.

But sports are publicly messier these days, and we should not run away from that.
Heck, the initial broken story on Rodriguez’s steroid use was published by Sports Illustrated. He also touches on the advancement of sports medicine as he came back successfully from significant hip surgery months after undergoing the operation. And he was again a great player, this time finally in the postseason, as well.

In the end, A-Rod offers a story of second chances and redemption. He was a better teammate and was rewarded with the most positive feedback yet as a person while scoring that elusive championship.
Go here to read more of his reasoning, and how he wonders why Jeter is any more of a Sportsman of the Year than Mariano Rivera is.

I didn't even think there was any chance SI would pick A-Rod - the player they outed as a steroids user - as Sportsman of the Year. It seemed incongruous to me with what SI says the award is supposed to be about. So I think the Jeter selection is fine. As SI explains it:
It was that combination of on- and off-field achievement that helped make Jeter this year's Sportsman. Said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell, "Derek Jeter has always presented himself with class; he does numerous good works for the community with his Turn 2 Foundation, which is one of the most efficient, effective foundations of its kind; and he's extremely generous with not just his money but with his time, which in many cases is more valuable. He also had another signature year on the field."

That being said, I see Sherman's point about how "sports in 2009 are no longer just about the games, and Rodriguez touches on so many of those other important elements while remaining a unique athlete." There is something to be said for the flawed hero being a role model in his own way.

A-Rod has gotten more grief than any other active baseball player I can think of. Yes, more than Barry Bonds when he was playing - at least Giants fans didn't boo their own player. Yet Rodriguez, after hitting rock bottom, thoroughly redeemed himself, and had one of the greatest postseasons ever. One of the more moving things in the World Series film is when, after the Yankees won the series, A-Rod hugs Joe Girardi and literally weeps in his arms. Rodriguez may not be Sportsman of the Year material, but his story is inspirational in its own way.

It's why I'm so happy to see Vince Young getting his chance to shine this year with the Titans. He, too, hit rock bottom - getting benched in favor of Kerry Collins must have been hard to swallow, especially when the Collins-led Titans went 0-6 this year. Yet VY, after Tennessee owner Bud Adams finally demanded he get to play, has made the most of his opportunity, going 5-0, capped with a thrilling last-second victory against Rose Bowl nemesis Matt Leinart and the Cardinals yesterday. VY hasn't done everything right over the years, but the fact that he's flawed makes him more accessible. 

In today's sports world, there's room for both the Jeters and the A-Rods, the Bradys and the Youngs.  And that's a good thing.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Anonymous said...

The lists and honors are meant to do nothing more than garner attention so whatever floats someone's boat regarding those.

Did you see the Titan's final drive? How cool. And I'm very glad Vince is getting another chance to show what he's got.

Did you get my email of the entire Davidoff article about voting for McGwire and why? So spot on, felt like he sat down and asked me to repeat what I've been saying for the past few years. :)

Subway Squawkers said...


Thanks for your note. Just tried to send you an email this morning to thank you, but my email crashed.

I miss Ken Davidoff so much since the Newsday switch! He's one of the best baseball columnists out there.

It will be interesting to see how McGwire responds to media scrutiny when he becomes the hitting coach.

"Nutball Gazette" said...

S.I.s sister magazine Time has picked notorious people as its Person of the Year.
In 1979 it chose Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran
I could see S.I a couple of years ago choosing the Steroid Users as at's "Sportsmen Of The Year" because of its effect on Sports
I just do not think A-Rod by himself sticks out as someone who deserves that kind of mention.
Maybe naming the Comeback Guys as "Sportsman of the Year" (A-Rod, Vince Young and Kobe Bryant who came back from big problems and have had outstanding seasons)

Anonymous said...

I also don't have problem with "El Capitan" being named Sportsman of the Year. I was very surprised to hear that he is the first Yankee player ever to be awarded it. It's well earned and deserved. Awarding it to Alex would have been raised eyebrows given how they outed him as a steroid user earlier this year. In the end the magazine probably did him and us Yankee fans a huge favor given how the season turned out LOL!. But nonetheless congrats to Derek.

Uncle Mike said...

Time's "Person/Persons of the Year" and SI's "Sportsman/woman/people of the Year" are two very different propositions.

The former is the one who most affected events in the year. Since Senator Obama was named in 2008, and it wouldn't be right to name the same person in back-to-back years, it's unlikely it will be President Obama for 2009, but I haven't given serious thought as to who it should be. Perhaps Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for symbolizing, however unintentionally, the disputes in our nation. (Her being a Yankee Fan should have nothing to do with it.)

The latter is truly a reflection of achievement, although it often turns out to be a lifetime achievement award: John Wooden in 1972, Jack Nicklaus in 1978, Joe Paterno in 1986, Don Shula in 1993, Dean Smith in 1997 and Brett Favre in 2007 all had better years. (Though Wooden and Paterno did win National Championships, Nicklaus won the British Open, and Smith reached the Final Four in his final season.)

By this standard, Jeter makes an excellent candidate, especially since no other sport has an obvious nominee. The last Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, and Triple Crown horse races didn't have a single jumps-out-at-you candidate, and there was no Olympics this year.

A-Rod would fit under the Time policy, as, in the calendar year, he seemed to symbolize both the best and worst of the character of a baseball player -- fortunately for us, saving the best for October. But it's not Time making the choice, it's SI, and Jeter fits the description they give.

Let's just hope this doesn't give the Yankees an entire year of DSICJ. That's the Dreaded Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx.

"Nutball Gazette" said...

I understand what you are saying Uncle Mike, My point was one can argue that the S I award can be handed out like the Time award, However I agree it really should be a positive award, I also agree with you on this maybe a good year to give it to Jeter as a career award just like it may have been awarded to the others you mentioned

Rob A from BBD said...

I don't know. I think you should have to wait at least one year after being outed as a guy who likes needles in his ass to win these types of awards.

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