It has now been about a month and a half since the last game of Derek Jeter's 20-year career with the Yankees. The tributes flowed in throughout the season, and of course, they have continued into his retirement. This item is a pretty cool tribute though--beat writer Tyler Kepner and his colleagues at the New York Times took a collection of articles and short pieces about Jeter that ran throughout his professional career and put it into a book, Derek Jeter: Excellence and Elegance.
The publisher, Triumph Books, was kind enough to send me a few copies of the book for Pinstripe Alley to check out and give away. Even though it's a collection of articles, they flow together quite nicely, chronicling the quick ascent of Jeter's career dating back to an article by Jack Curry in August of 1994, the year Jeter was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. There are some fascinating anecdotes learned from the 128 pages of news articles, information that might have been forgotten at points over the course of the past couple decades.
For instance, for as wonderful a life that Jeter has lived, he's certainly gone through his tribulations at points as well. On New Year's Day of 1999, he lost his hard-working grandfather Sonny Connors to a sudden heart attack, and two seasons later, he revealed that during the previous several months, his close sister Sharlee had been going through chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin's disease. She was just 21 at the time, and he did not tell anyone about it until it was "a success story," in his words. Sometimes, it's easy to think of Jeter as this robot who only spouts cliches to the press, and while such strategies did help him remarkably stay out of trouble in the tabloid-hungry New York media, the idea does overlook Jeter's human side. In Jeter's last games, fans finally saw Jeter let his guard somewhat, and it was refreshing.
This book delves into Jeter's development from Rookie of the Year to future Hall of Famer, and reading the numerous articles takes fans back to the time they were originally published. I remember where I was when Jeter made the Flip Play in 2001, and I certainly remember reading the praise about it. Even then, writers were saying that it was one of the most unbelievable plays they had ever seen; the sources at the time back the memories up. I remember where I was when Jeter was announced as the captain in 2003. It's amusing looking back on the timing of the announcement, since the Yankees were on the road in Cincinnati and though historic, it seemed like a subtle Steinbrenner attempt to undermine Joe Torre. These are just a few examples of the several stories told in this book. In addition to all the articles are a plethora of memorable images of Jeter from the New York Times' archives, as well. This book would certainly fit well in any collection of books about the Yankees.
So how can you win one of these books? Here's where we'll tie into today's big MLB news (no, not the Francisco Cervelli trade). The AL and NL MVP awards will be announced this evening sometime shortly after 6:00. To enter the contest, make the following predictions:
1) Predict the order of results for the Top 3 MVP candidates in each league. Michael Brantley, Mike Trout, and Victor Martinez are the finalists in the AL, and Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, and Clayton Kershaw are the NL finalists.
2) Will any Yankees receive any Top 10 AL MVP votes? (Yes/No) If yes, who receives the most?
3) Which AL shortstop receives the most Top 10 AL MVP votes?
Tiebreaker: How many total AL players will receive at least one Top 10 MVP vote?
Get your votes in and good luck!
Here are the results:
The AL MVP finish was 1) Trout, 2) Martinez, 3) Brantley
The NL MVP finish was 1) Kershaw, 2) Stanton, 3) McCutchen
No Yankees received AL MVP votes, no shortstops received AL MVP votes, and 20 different AL Players received MVP votes.
Congrats to BroncoLover on winning this contest for the book!