The Captain’s growing divide
Jeter was a superstar right off the bat, winning the 1996 American League Rookie of the Year Award. That season he starred in his first postseason and took off from there. He was close with Jorge Posada, as they came up through the minor leagues together and formed a bond with his first manager Joe Torre. Teammates in the early years mention his sense of humor and playfulness in the locker room that slowly melted away as time passed.
On the field, he was always the same, quiet and focused. Other players talked about his leading by example and the feeling that they couldn’t let him down. His intensity and need to win could leave others to wilt under his gaze. Once Alex Rodriguez arrived, occasionally a petty side showed itself as well. The infamous infield pop-up that no one caught underscored the dynamic.
The best analogy would be comparing the two to a pair of basketball legends. To me, Manning is Tim Duncan and Jeter is Michael Jordan. Both were champions, both played big when it mattered, but one was loved by his teammates while the other was admired.
Other Yankees appreciated and respected Jeter’s greatness on the field. They listened on the rare occasion he spoke, but they also feared him. He loomed over them like a living hall of fame bust. Jeter had that same maniacal intensity and drive to win as Jordan, and instilled the same awe in his teammates.
There is no doubt that Derek Jeter is a far better baseball player then Eli Manning was a quarterback. The statistics speak for themselves and Manning may never be enshrined in Canton. Eli failed way more often than Jeter, he frustrated us more, and for many it made us love him more. He was one of us, and we cared and defended him to non-Giants fans. If you want to know who mattered more to me well…I have twin sons and one is named Eli, the other isn’t Derek.
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