Leading off with three strong takes on Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees shortstop who announced Wednesday that this will be his final season as a player:


1—He is “Mr. Yankee.” Yep, more-deserving of that tag than Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and even Babe Ruth.


2—He is the best Major League Baseball player never to be voted Most Valuable Player (since the official award began in 1931).


3—A fitting recognition of Jeter, for performance on and off the field, would be unanimous election to the Hall of Fame. Tom Seaver has come the closest (98.84 percent; 425 of 430 votes).


Jeter is the Yankees career leader in games and hits. He has been team captain since 2003. He leads by performance and by example. He is a complete professional. He will retire as a Yankee. That counts for something. The team picked him No. 6 overall in the 1992 amateur draft. Smart move by the Yankees. He was smart enough to stay.


Jeter finished in the top 10 for MVP 8 times. He was third twice and second once (in 2006, when he was edged by Minnesota’s Justin Morneau in a race that could’ve gone either way). The Yankees won five world championships since he became the starting shortstop in 1996. The team MVPs over that span and beyond were Jeter and, arguably, closer Mariano Rivera.


Seaver was a pitcher. Jeter is a shortstop who has played every day. In fact, Jeter has played in 158 games in the postseason – the equivalent of a full regular season. He has a career batting average of .308 in the postseason, including .321 in the World Series. His nicknames include “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November.” Alex Rodriguez has been called “Mr. May.”


Jeter’s intangibles are so outstanding that they have somewhat overshadowed his ability. Of the 22 shortstops in the Hall of Fame, Jeter’s overall numbers rate above everyone except Honus Wagner, who played a long, long time ago. Jeter has been an excellent offensive shortstop, with a significantly higher batting average and more power than most. He didn’t have great range or a cannon arm, but he won five Gold Gloves for fielding. In other words, he wasn’t a defensive liability.


A final reason why Jeter should be the first unanimous Hall of Famer is his character on and off the field (if long-time teammate and buddy Mariano Rivera doesn’t beat him to it). Baseball never had a better example for kids to follow. He has played the game the way it is supposed to be play. He has respected the game. In the Steroids Age, he was clean. He was the anti-Alex Rodriguez.


When Jeter becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019, here’s hoping there will be a stipulation that any voter leaving Jeter off the ballot should be required to explain why. There would be no logical reason.




Remember when I suggested that this could be the first time Syracuse supplies three first-round picks to an NBA draft? And that we should enjoy this team while we can because C.J. Fair and maybe freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and sophomore forward Jerami Grant could be all be history bound for the NBA after this spring’s NCAA tournament?


SU fans should be hoping that Ennis and Grant really like life at SU enough to come back – for at least one more season...SU fans also are fortunate that the NBA’s probable Rookie of the Year (Michael Carter-Williams) left SU early and a freshman (Ennis) was forced to start at point guard.


Jeff Goodman’s first 2014 NBS Mock Draft for ESPN Insider was released this week. It includes Ennis No. 8, Grant No. 23 and Fair No. 29.


The revised 2014 NBA Mock Draft by nba.draft.net has Syracuse’s Jerami Grant 9th, Tyler Ennis 14th and C.J. Fair 36th.




If someone had told you two weeks ago that Missouri football player Michael Sam would be the cover subject for the 2-17-2014 issue of Sports Illustrated, you wouldn’t have believed it.


The NFL office, many of the teams and most of the players are saying the right things about the possibility of Sam playing in the league. But how many of the 32 teams will seriously consider selecting him?


The team that does pick Sam probably will be getting a bargain. He almost certainly will be chosen lower than his football ability warrants.




I don’t know how popular the 2014 version of the New York Yankees will be in the Big Apple, but with Ichiro Suzuki, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka in the fold, they’re sure to be the most popular Major League Baseball team in Tokyo.


I’m wondering if leaving the Yankees will ultimately cost Robinson Cano whatever chance he has of making baseball’s Hall of Fame.


Major League Soccer’s average attendance last season was around 18,600. That means even if the Lancers had joined the league in the early 2000s, with their new soccer-specific stadium, with a seating capacity of 12,000-plus, the MLS would’ve outgrown Rochester by now.


The popularity of the NFL figures to be on display when the NFL’s new Thursday night package of high-profile games demolishes ESPN’s Thursday night college football package.


My 12-man USA Basketball roster for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics would be LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kebin Durant, Paul George, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.  Nobody touches that dozen.


Of the 12 NFL teams were in the + column for takeaways/giveaways in 2013, only two had losing records: Tampa Bay was +10 and 4-12; Buffalo was +3 and 6-10.


A women’s race finally has been added to the Tour de France. It will coincide with the final stage of this summer’s male race. Nearly 100,000 folks signed an on-line petition started by several prominent female cyclists.


Minnesota will host the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Tuesday, July 15. Prediction: New Britain (Double-A Eastern League) CF Byron Buxton and 3b Miguel Sano will play in the Futures Game Sunday, July 13 and then be reassigned to the Rochester Red Wings.


The Rochester Knighthawks are 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. The eight other National Lacrosse League teams are a combined 16-11 at home and 11-18 on the road...The average NLL crowd this season is 9,150.