IS IT APRIL FOOL'S DAY? CAPTAIN'S GREAT, BUT HE'S NO BABEBy Andrew Marchand
Have all the history books been burned? Does anyone know how to pick up a media guide? Even for the wired youngsters, haven't they heard of BaseballReference.com?
The Captain better than the Babe? What's the date already? Gotta be April 1, no? Not only did Babe Ruth have 714 home runs, his career average of .342 dwarfs Derek Jeter's .314.
Plus, he could pitch.
It is pretty incomprehensible that anyone could think that Jeter is a better athlete than Ruth was, let alone Jeter could receive more votes in a Siena College survey for New York's greatest athlete.
Maybe the respondents were confused. It is difficult to judge athletes from different generations.
Jeter does look better against his generation if you presume he has been clean. He and Ken Griffey Jr. are arguably the greatest clean players of their generation, besting the sullied Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. (Albert Pujols is in the next generation.)
Still, even if you buy this argument (and I'm not even sure I do), Jeter didn't dominate like Ruth did.
On BaseballReference.com, they have a very interesting stat called WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Ruth is the all-time leader in this stat. Ruth's WAR is 172. No. 1 all time.
Jeter's is not bad. He is No. 55 all time with a 70.1 number. It is pretty good, but keep in mind a burly left-handed hitter from his generation is just above him -- Jim Thome.
This stat is not the end all of everything, but it helps in comparing guys from different generations. It further demonstrates the difference between the two athletes. Jeter is great, but he is no Babe.
Ruth once famously said the reason he made more money than the president was because he had a better year. If the Babe were around, he surely would say that about his career compared to the Captain. It is hard to believe anyone wouldn't.
JETER'S NOT EVEN THE BEST YANKEE IN THE PAST 15 YEARSBy Wallace Matthews
Derek Jeter, the greatest Yankee of all time? Why, I'll bet you he's not even the greatest Yankee of the past 15 years.
My colleague Andrew Marchand has already done a fine job of dismantling the silly Siena College survey that somehow found more people voting for Jeter than for Babe Ruth as all the greatest Yankee of them all, a result that I can easily dismiss as generational ignorance. (It is not even the worst such case I've ever come across; I once heard a TV boxing commentator try, in all sincerity, to make the case that Roy Jones Jr. could beat Joe Frazier.)
I have all the respect and admiration in the world for Jeter as a player and as a person.
But can anyone who has really paid attention to the latest Yankees dynasty really argue that Jeter has meant more to this franchise than Mariano Rivera?
Plenty of learned fans of all generations will tell you quite convincingly that Mo is the greatest closer of all time, or at worst, one of the top three. Can anyone make the same case for Jeter as a shortstop?
Since 1997, when he became a full-time closer, Mo has saved 559 regular-season games for the Yankees and another 42 in the postseason. Of the 20 World Series games these Yankees won in clinching their five world championships, Mo saved 11 of them. How many of those titles would the Yankees have won with any other closer?
If you need numbers to make your point, know that Rivera is the all-time leader in Adjusted ERA+. That means of every pitcher in baseball history. Can Jeter make the same claim in any offensive category?
And every time Rivera comes into a game, it is an event, a moment to be remembered and savored. Surely, you could say the same about one of Ruth's trips to the plate, or about a Whitey Ford start, or an at-bat by DiMaggio or Mantle.
But can anyone honestly say the same about a Jeter at-bat? Opponents respect Jeter when he comes to the plate. But they fear Mo when he comes to the mound. And whatever hope they had of winning the game drops just as sharply as he trademark cutter.
In fairness, take Jeter off the roster and these Yankees would still be the Yankees, just not the same Yankees.
Take Mo out? Then they're just another team.