On Tuesday night, Derek Jeter surprised about 20 or so prospects at dinner at a local Tampa restaurant. For the third straight year, a group of Baby Bombers got the chance to pick the brain of a Yankee legend — a guy who was once in their shoes.
During a little Q&A session, top prospect Justus Sheffield asked Jeter who he liked to watch in today’s game. According to Randy Miller of NJ Advance Media, Jeter mentioned a name that some Yankees fans would be disappointed to hear:
Boston Red Sox outfielder, Mookie Betts.
“He mentioned watching Mookie Betts. He loves watching Mookie Betts play. Then he said, ‘Anyone who goes and plays the game hard,'” Justus told Miller.
First of all, Jeter doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would sit down in front of his TV to watch a baseball game. I feel like he views it as, If I can’t play, I don’t want to watch.
When I first read that Jeter said he liked watching Betts play, the Yankee fan in me was somewhat annoyed. But then I remembered something Jeter said a couple years ago that made the baseball fan in me remember to forget rivalries sometimes.
Back in 2014 during his farewell season, Jeter put it all in perspective. “You shouldn’t praise me for running hard to first base,” he said. “What’s the big deal? What’s so tough about that? How many times do you run down the line a night—four times? You shouldn’t get praise for that. That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
It’s such a simple way to look at the game, and it really epitomized what Jeter was all about. You have four at-bats a night, maybe more, why not run hard for 90 feet every time? I know it’s a long season and these guys do need to pace themselves, but if you play with the mindset that Jeter had you’re going to be successful.
So I guess it doesn’t matter if you have a Boston Red Sox jersey on. If you can play the game the right way, you should be respected. That’s why Jeter was so universally revered, right?