Saturday, November 28, 2009

Should Derek Jeter be Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year? I say yes

I wrote a piece for The Faster Times pointing out that in the 55 years that Sports Illustrated has given out their Sportsman of the Year award, nobody from the New York Yankees has ever won it. Outrage! is reporting that a tipster has revealed that Derek Jeter will be getting the award this year. I think that's a great choice. Jeter is well-deserving of such an honor. And it's more than shocking that no Yankee - least of all him - has won it before.

Some Yankee fans thought Jeter deserved AL MVP this year. I thought Joe Mauer had a better season than him, so Mauer was the more worthy choice. That being said, Jeter - as captain of the Yankees, an exemplary role model, and the all-time Yankee hit king - would be a great Sportsman of the Year. The definition of the award says it should go to "the athlete or team whose performance that year most embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement." As somebody who is arguably the most beloved figure in baseball, it makes sense for Jeter to get that award.

Longtime readers know I'm hardly somebody who gives Derek Jeter undeserved praise - I think he is all too often overhyped. That being said, when you think Sportsman of the Year, you think somebody who's not just a great player, but a role model. And who else fits that as well as Jeter does, with his Turn 2 Foundation and the way he conducts his life?

Mariano Rivera would also be a great choice for the award, for what he also means to baseball. And no, I don't think A-Rod should get the honor - as much as he was a huge reason the Yankees won it all this season, you can't give Sportsman of the Year to somebody who admitted earlier that year to using steroids.

But if Jeter and the Yankees are left out in the cold again this year, it will be pretty obvious that the SI anti-Yankee bias is insurmountable. Speaking of that bias, look who they featured as one of their Turkeys of the Year picks - A-Rod:

After his name was leaked from a confidental list of 104 Major Leaguers who failed tests for performance-enhancers in 2003, A-Rod made a painfully awkward confession, as his Yankee teammates looked on, to using Primobolan supplied by a "cousin." He copped to being "young, stupid and naïve" but said he didn't really know if the boli worked. He also made a bizarre claim that he had been stalked by SI writer Selena Roberts, who was working on a book about him.

Is A-Rod's steroid use fair game? Of course. But you would think the Turkey of the Year description might mention him finally shedding his postseason choker label. And while A-Rod isn't Sportsman of the Year caliber, making him "Turkey of the Year" along with Steve Phillips, Eric Mangini, Plaxico Burress, and the New York Mets is just silly.

Let's review - Phillips lost his job, Mangini has won one game and is about to lose his job, Burress is in the pokey, the Mets are in oblivion, and Rodriguez is on top of the world after getting his first World Series ring. Remember that little Sesame Street ditty, "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other Things"? Sing it, Cookie Monster!

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