Derek Jeter (Please excuse me) is Not Mariano Rivera

Jeter and Rivera - so close and yet so far different (Photo:

Derek Jeter’s unanimous selection to the HOF is all but wrapped up and tied with a bow. But unlike last year, it won’t be a lovefest in Cooperstown…

Derek Jeter, for two decades as the New York Yankee’s shortstop, accumulated all of the numbers necessary to make the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). And then some.

Sportswriter Jack Curry's 2018 HOF Ballot (Photo:
Sportswriter Jack Curry’s 2018 HOF Ballot (Photo:

Aside from the pill-popping Three Amigos (Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens), none of the remaining holdovers are close enough to gain selection this year.

Of the first-timers on the ballot, with luminaries like Chone Figgins, Brad Penny, and J.J. Putz among those listed, only Jeter will prevail.

So, unless the Modern Era Committee names someone from their ballot who isn’t dead, the stage is set for an exclusive Derek Jeter Day in Cooperstown, New York, on July 27.

As we know, Mariano Rivera became baseball’s first unanimous selection to the HOF last year. With justification, not a disparaging word of disagreement was heard.

But I have a question for you…

If Rivera had not been the first – what are the odds – and would you cast a vote for Jeter to be installed as the first-ever unanimous selectee to the HOF?

See, that’s a much different question than the one before the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) today. After all, being the second person to do anything is not quite the same as being the first.

On the morning of May 6, 1954, British athlete Sir Roger Bannister did the impossible and became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. Today, a runner might as well stay home if he can’t run a mile in under four minutes.

Baseball cannot permit unanimous selection to the HOF to become as ho-hum as running a four-minute mile – or even landing a man on the moon.

Nevertheless, if Derek Jeter is a unanimous selection, so be it. It’s nothing to start WWIII over. But for good reasons, the celebration will be subdued compared to last year…

Derek Jeter is not Mariano Rivera

It was a lovefest that assembled in Cooperstown last year to honor Mariano Rivera – a spontaneous outpouring of love and goodwill that was as much about the man as about the ballplayer.

Mariano Rivera - "The First" (Photo:
Mariano Rivera – “The First” (Photo:

So, while this is not meant to be a beat-up Derek Jeter story, it is earmarked to draw a valid distinction between the two men.

In some ways, it’s the same as arguing Willie Mays was a better centerfielder than Mickey Mantle – where neither can definitively be declared a clear winner.

But at the same time, I can guarantee that next year’s televised event will be as dry and rehearsed as the so-called “interviews” Derek Jeter gave throughout his long career.

All of the main characters will be there, but the hugs shared between Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Jeter will look more like those exchanged between the Queen of England and the line of guests she receives.

That is, of course, other than the hug that comes from Mariano Rivera – a man who doesn’t know how to fake it.

Perspective on Yankees greatness is important

Derek Jeter - for the cameras - or not? (Photo:
Derek Jeter – for the cameras – or not? (Photo:

We would agree that Don Mattingly is worthy of better consideration from HOF voters. But he is not Lou Gehrig.

Similarly, most will say Bernie Williams should be the fifth member of the so-called Core Four as a mainstay in the Yankees outfield during The Run. But Bernie is not Mickey. And so on…

Derek Jeter spent two decades robotically going through the motions as a quintessential Yankees. He emerged unmarked and dove headlong into his lifelong dream of owning a major league baseball club.

Jeter achieved that goal, albeit mistitled as the Miami Marlins “owner” in the media while holding only a 4 percent stake in the team.

It’s a risky venture, and Jeter is given points for associating himself with a franchise that was $400 million in debt on the day he wrote his check.

Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera has chosen a different retirement course by giving back in appreciation for what he has been given.

As Peter Richman wrote in a story he penned for Bleacher Reports:

“The arc of 43-year-old Rivera’s career is as moving as his cutter. He is a deeply religious man, a father who has never separated his faith from his job—a job he has dutifully performed better and more times than any other in the history of Major League Baseball.”

Take nothing away from Derek Jeter, but give everything to Mariano Rivera…

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.