Derek Jeter: The Ultimate Baseball Captain

Quote of the Day: "I'll trade my past for your future." -- Reggie Jackson to Derek Jeter

On this Labor Day 2009, I am lucky to be going to see a Yankees game at their new stadium thanks to my brother-in-law hooking me up with a ticket. It's the first Yankees game I'm going to this year, and a season hasn't gone by since I was a kid that I haven't seen them play live for at least one game, so it means a lot to me.

This year's Yankees are strong and look like they'll go all the way. One of their key components is their All-Star shortstop and team captain Derek Jeter who is having a phenomenal season. He is on the verge of tying and breaking Lou Gehrig's record for most hits in the Yankees' home stadium.

Some have criticized Jeter for being over-rated or, like Phil Rizzuto, fortunate to be playing for championship caliber teams. Yet Jeter has four World Series rings not just because his teammates helped him get them, but because he himself played a crucial role during those winning seasons. Others criticize his role as captain by saying that he doesn't speak out in public enough to quell controversies that often arise. I believe he uses his quiet leadership where it counts, in the clubhouse and with his fellow ballplayers, leading by example and being a class act in front of the media. His style reminds me of my other favorite Yankees captain, Don Mattingly, whose dedication and commitment gave me and other Yankees fans something to cheer about during the championship drought of the 1980s and early 1990s.

In this steroid era when everyone is cynical about baseball players' accomplishments, many people say that they are no longer surprised if any player is revealed to be a performance enhancing drug user. But I would be truly shocked if Derek Jeter wasn't one of those iconic players that can truly be called "the Natural." He continues to be a role model that Major League Baseball and baseball fans everywhere, no matter where their loyalties lie, should feel proud of as they watch him play the National Pastime.