Derek Jeter is Batman. No, not a tormented soul dishing out vigilante justice on criminals as a coping mechanism to deal with his parents’ murder. In a literal comparison, Jeter is much more Bruce Wayne, complete with a rotation of starlets for his arm. (But we all know Bruce Wayne is just a facade used as a cover for the Dark Knight.) So how is Jeter like Batman then you may ask? And who is stupid enough to actually make such a comparison? Both valid questions.
Well, many people often feel that Jeter is given too much credit. Talk of this sort has reached a particularly fevered pitch recently in backlash to the overexposure of a farewell tour that has lasted seemingly as long as his career. The dreaded O word, overrated, is being tossed around a lot lately. The way these people feel about Jeter is very much the same way I feel about Batman.
Because both are so beloved fans tend to credit them in ways that are not measurable. For Batman, this is the prep time argument. His most ardent supporters, and many writers, fancy the premise that Batman with prep time can beat anyone. A premise which has allowed him to go head to head with characters way out of his weight class like Superman. This has always irritated me as it is ludicrous. Realistically, heroes on the level of Supes and the Hulk would destroy Batman in seconds. Either would be able to render him unconcious with a simple flick to the forehead. There is only so much coaching can do for you when the talent is so one sided. Even less powerful characters shouldn’t have much trouble disposing of Mr. Wayne. For instance, Wolverine would send him to meet his parents. It isn’t until you get down to the level of say Captain America where the odds start to even out, and even then Bats is starting from a power deficit.
For Jeter prep time=intangibles. His biggest backers always point out his leadership qualities and things that don’t show up in the box score. Much like the idea of prep time, while I’m sure they have an overall positive effect, they present a very convenient argument because it is an arbitrary one and therefore impossible to refute. To a man, anyone who has ever been around Jeter speaks glowingly of his influence. This surely helps his team. It is just hard to buy such things catapulting him too far up the ladder without tangible evidence to support it. Statistics may not show everything but they are by far the best ammunition for objective sports arguments. Does Jeter deserve to be viewed in a historically more positive light than an Albert Pujols because he was a good locker room influence?
Another thing Batman is given credit for is his ability to accomplish everything he has in spite of a lack of super human powers. This is analagous to Jeter being the poster child for the non PED baseball superstar. Bats doesn’t have the advantage of radioactive spiders, gamma rays or mutant powers, leading many to relate to him more. The same goes for Jeets, as nearly every truly transparent star of his era has been linked to an enhancer. Barry Bonds is the best player I ever saw but his career is marred and Jeter’s is not. A true feather in the Captain’s cap *offers mandatory cap tip*, one that has certainly elevated his stature in arguments and likely caused the sport to champion him as its face. Again, another benefit that is impossible to truly quantify.
With all that said, I am always wary of venturing into hater territory. Admittedly, I’ve hated on Batman in the past (probably because my name is Robin), similarly to how so many people seem to be hating on Jeter right now. After all, saying someone is not the best of all time really isn’t much of a scathing critique. And because there hasn’t been much to legitimately criticize him about the hyenas have taken this opportunity to pounce on silly things like the idea he should’ve went to Joe Girardi and begged to be dropped in the lineup. The same goes for my take on Batman. Saying he would be dropped by the most powerful characters in the comic book universe doesn’t take away from his accomplishments. Sharing the playing field with the Justice League is impressive in its own right and universal acclaim certainly doesn’t happen by accident.
So, despite Batman and Jeter both being put on a pedestal by many, that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving. And in each case I think their popularity is sometimes confused with their placement. Batman isn’t the most powerful and Jeter isn’t the best ever. But they are still true greats and a lot of people’s favorites. And really that’s what this is all about.
Plus, after a night like last night, how could anyone argue against Jeter’s clutch reputation? Then again, he did have plenty of prep time.