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I’m pretty sure Derek Jeter woulda been a Hall of Famer even without the intangibles

May 7, 2013, 5:42 PM EDT

derek jeter getty Getty Images

Howard Bryant’s latest ESPN column considers Derek Jeter. It starts thusly:

THE MAGIC OF baseball will always live in the storytelling

Pretty lucky for Bryant, given that he’s a storyteller! Anyway:

— the grandeur of Ruth, the Midwestern identification with Musial, the unbreakable Robinson and the complex defiance and moral ambiguity of Bonds. It’s what gives life to the statistics. Unfortunately, in the age of Moneyball and fantasy leagues, the numbers have been detached from, and become more important than, the players. All but one.

Know what? I still think the players are the most important thing in baseball. We could all stop playing fantasy baseball and reading sabermetric articles and, heck, even keeping statistics, and I bet there would still be major league baseball games with millions of people attending. Indeed, I’m almost positive this is true.

But even with that aside, I’m just not buying any of what Bryant is selling. Which is, in short that “Jeter’s intangibles and leadership are what make him a Hall of Famer,” to quote the little caption under the graphic on top.

Yes, there are great stories about Derek Jeter. But there are great stories about Joe Charboneau too. Yes, Jeter apparently has some great intangibles. But he also happens to have some AMAZING FREAKING TANGIBLES.

If no one ever wrote a single word about Jeter that didn’t appear in a game story, he’d be a Hall of Famer. That’s because he’s one of the best shortstops who ever lived and has multiple World Series rings. Those things are tangible.

I’ve never understood the desire for so many to engage in Derek Jeter mythmaking. The reality is so awesome already.  Why don’t we make myths about Nick Punto? That guy could use some help!

  1. lyon810 - May 7, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Ugh Bryant is always such a bag of wind. Always trying to romanticize every point he makes.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 7, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      I’m always shocked when one of his trash pieces isn’t about the plight of a minority. He’s nothing but a race baiter.

  2. xmatt0926x - May 7, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Not trying to engage in Jeter myth-making. I don’t care to since I’m not a Yankees fan or the typical fan who has hero worship for athletes. I agree that Jeter’s “tangibles” make him almost all of the awesome player he has been for years, but can’t “intangibles” enhance the tangibles to an extent? Isn’t a guy like Jeter or Musial , etc. a better player as far as leading teammates or giving a teammate a helping hand where needed based on his having these types of intangibles an enhancement over a guy with all the physical tools but has zero of the things we praise as intangibles? I don’t know if I’m making my point clearly or not. There might not be much difference overall bit it seems to me that a Jeter who has what he has helps a team more over the long run than a Jeter with a negative personality who isn’t a great teammate. Just my 2 cents.

    • jwbiii - May 7, 2013 at 8:02 PM

      Ask Alex Rodriguez.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        Ask Alex Rodriguez

        Not sure if this is meant that Arod is a bad teammate or not? Because he’s the one who mentors the young players, especially the Latin American ones. He’s the one that Cano credited with forcing him to be serious with his work ethic.

      • cktai - May 8, 2013 at 2:10 AM

        I think he meant that if Jeter really was an amazing teammate, he would have offered to move when the best fielding shortstop in the league joined his team.

  3. Stiller43 - May 7, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    Any guy who can wine, dine, …the other one, then gives the girl a “thanks for…coming” gift basket is a hall of famer to me. That would count as a tangible, right?

  4. rbj1 - May 7, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    From Jeter’s scouting report by Gene Bennett (I’m loving that site)
    “Has leadership ability with good makeup.”

    • historiophiliac - May 7, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      Was he scouting for Mary Kay reps?

      • rbj1 - May 7, 2013 at 7:18 PM

        Jeter has The Will To Sell and sells cosmetics the right way (by handing over products in exchange for money. Now A-Rod sometimes doesn’t hand over products but keeps the cash and other times gives the cosmetics away for free.)

  5. randygnyc - May 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Jeter’s career performances will make him a first ballot, hall of fame great. His intangibles put him in the rarified air of legendary players like Ruth, Mantle, Williams and Mays.

    • carbydrash - May 7, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Now, this is just a silly statement.

      • paperlions - May 7, 2013 at 6:48 PM

        Yeah, that is weird. First, because the listed players were much better baseball players than Jeter. Second, because Jeter’s positive “intangibles” are far greater than any of those guys (especially, Ruth, Mantle, and Williams…all of whom had negative intangibles).

      • 18thstreet - May 7, 2013 at 6:54 PM

        Ted Williams was a war hero. He is as responsible as any person for the inclusion of Negro Leaguers in the Hall of Fame. His teammates adored him. You could read a book about it, called “The Teammates.”

        Ted Williams’s intangibles were just fine.

      • djpostl - May 7, 2013 at 7:34 PM

        He was still a raging douchenozzle to most people on most days.

        But he had some really good things about him that weren’t baseball skills.

      • paperlions - May 7, 2013 at 8:39 PM

        Exactly. War intangibles don’t contribute to baseball…when you are, by all accounts, about as non-leaderly as a ball player could be.

    • duckthefodgers - May 7, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      What does being likable have to do with baseball or the hall of fame.

      • American of African Descent - May 7, 2013 at 9:28 PM

        Why don’t you ask Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

  6. frank35sox - May 7, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Say whatever you want, but those are the two of the most overrated plays to have ever happened in any major sport.

    His numbers aren’t underrated and his legacy is overrated. Jeter was good, but he should never even be uttered as a part of the pantheon of Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, and DiMaggio.

  7. indaburg - May 7, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    Leave Nick Punto alone!

  8. oasiserfede - May 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM


    • oasiserfede - May 7, 2013 at 6:29 PM

      Tried to be a little bit clever. Failed rather miserably.

  9. oasiserfede - May 7, 2013 at 6:10 PM


  10. greatdayfortwo - May 7, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    Why dis Punto? He’s no All-Star, but few give better effort day in and day out.

    • eightyraw - May 7, 2013 at 6:23 PM

      Look Craig, the Punto intangible myth you asked for!

      • hep3 - May 7, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Yeah, but is Punto gritty enough to play for Arizona?

      • Kevin S. - May 7, 2013 at 6:55 PM

        Did you see the way Team Italy gritted and scrapped its way to the second round? I’m surprised Arizona didn’t drop contracts out of a helicopter over the team hotel.

  11. duckthefodgers - May 7, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    You cant compare Jeter with the home run king Bonds.

    • mybrunoblog - May 7, 2013 at 7:09 PM

      You are absolutely right. Jeter has more integrity in his little toe than Bonds does in his whole body.

      • duckthefodgers - May 7, 2013 at 7:17 PM

        Where is the stat for integrity?

      • cktai - May 8, 2013 at 2:12 AM

        Yeah stupid Bonds never left anyone a giftbasket.

  12. 18thstreet - May 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    It’s such a stupid thought. No player is separate from his statistics. The statistics fill in some of the blanks, but they aren’t a substitute for them.

    If Jeter is above his statistics, why did fans celebrate his 3000th hit?

  13. djpostl - May 7, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    God Bryant is just a twit.

    When it is all said and done Jeter is likely to trail only Rose, Cobb, Aaron, Musial, Speaker & Wagner on the all-time hits list and this clown thinks his intangibles are what makes him great?

  14. granted42 - May 7, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Did I miss something? ARod with multiple World Series rings? I know about 2009, but when did the Mariners or Rangers win the Series. Any way, the number of rings doesn’t matter, ARod should be a first ballot Hall of Famer, were it not for a large group of self-righteous baseball writers. Who knows, maybe because he played for the Yankees, he’ll still make it on the first ballot. Perhaps in the next decade, something will happen to change the system, and players will be inducted based on their performance on the field, and not on someone’s inflated ego.

  15. thebigtim2012 - May 8, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    As a die hard Red Sox fan I hate Derek jeter for the simple fact that that s.o.b. doesn’t give me any real reasons to hate him beyond the pinstripes. He’s a class act by all accounts and a hell of a ball player. Bastard.

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