Chinese philosophy puts forth the concept of yin and yang to explain complementary, yet opposing forces. Good cannot exist without evil and light cannot exist without dark. In the Tao of Baseball, how do you fully appreciate the legacy of Derek Jeter without considering the career of Alex Rodriguez?
When Jeter and ARod made their debuts in the mid-90s, both were considered among the best shortstops in baseball. Twenty years later, their careers could not be more different.
On Sunday, Jeter plays his last game as a Yankee before heading into retirement as one of the most respected and accomplished baseball players in MLB history. Also on Sunday, Rodriguez finishes serving one of the longest suspensions ever issued in baseball for his use of performance enhancing drugs.
When it comes to career statistics, the two are eerily close in batting average, but it’s Jeter’s consistency and personality that separates him from his counterpart.
In the postseason, Jeter was Mr. Clutch—he boasts a .308 career batting average in the playoffs and holds career records for hits, doubles, and triples. Aside from his productive 2009 run, ARod’s playoff performances have been less than memorable—as a Yankee he has batted an unimpressive .244 in the postseason stretch. In fact, his play was so tepid in the playoffs he was referred to as the October Choker and even his teammates started calling him “The Cooler” to describe the chilling effect he had on teams once he joined them.
Aside from statistics, Jeter has been able to capture the respect and admiration of New York fans—a feat that is not easily accomplished. Jeter is lovingly referred to by Yanks faithful as the “Captain” and his meaning to the Big Apple was captured perfectly by this emotional ad made by Gatorade.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez is reviled with taunts of “A-Fraud” and “A-Roid.” I doubt there will be many extended tributes created when he retires.
Even when it comes to women, Jeter seems to outclass ARod. While they both dated models and starlets, you would never—NEVER—see Jeter in this situation:
So thank you Derek. Thank you for your talent, your class, and your charity. And thank you for not being Alex Rodriguez.
--Alexis Garcia, BYB's "Eye on MLB" Columnist
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