Derek Gentile: On Jeter, Duquette and Karras

Tuesday October 16, 2012

Somewhat overshadowed by the startling postseason runs of the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles, not to mention the equally surprising fold of the Boston Red Sox, was the annexation by the New York Yankees of the AL East title. Again.

In most other years, the fact that the Yankees lost the premier closer in the history of the game (I speak of Mariano Rivera) and still made the postseason may have made more hay, so to speak.

Now, it's almost business as usual in New York.

For many years I posited that Rivera was the secret of New York's success. He was one of the mainstays of the roster throughout this run of 17 playoff appearances in the last 18 years (although Rivera was not the closer for all those teams).

But that was clearly not the case this time around. In fact, there is really only one player that one can say is the consistent thread of these teams.

So I ask fans: Is Derek Jeter now the greatest Yankee of all time? This question is a little more pointed after we learned that Jeter will be out for the rest of the postseason with an ankle fracture.

This is not the frivolous inquiry it may seem to be, especially to old-timers. I think that for a lot of seasons, Jeter was considered the foundation upon which many Yankee teams resided. But over the past few years, despite being in his late 30s, he has maintained a very high level of accomplishment.

No, Jeter hasn't hit in 56 games in a row, as Joe DiMaggio did, or win a Triple Crown a la Mickey Mantle. But do those feats overshadow his incredible consistency and durability?

I don't know, to be honest. But I'm starting to lean toward an answer in the affirmative.

Anyway, I would enjoy hearing the thoughts of Yankee and non-Yankee fans alike on this. And if I get enough of them, or at least enough that are printable, I'll share them.


So, how do you like Dan Duquette now? I think that during his tenure with the Red Sox, the focus, correctly or incorrectly, of the media was on Duquette's inability to get to a World Series. But he was also criticized at the time for signing 2004 World Series MVP Manny Ramirez. Ramirez and Pedro Martinez, whom Duquette also acquired, are arguably two of the greatest players in Sox history. Duquette also drafted Nomar Garciaparra, who, without question, is the best shortstop in Sox history.

I am aware that he also made some bad deals and drafts, as do all GMs. My analysis of Duquette's Red Sox career was that he did a good job building the foundation of the championship teams of 2004 and 2007.

Assessing the deals Duquette will make for the Orioles will be judged better as time goes on. But the bottom line for me is, Duquette helped the Sox to two championships. That's a crude measurement, but it's the only one most people accept.


Sad to hear of the death of Alex Karras. In this era, he was much better known as the goofy dad in the "Webster" TV series than one of the greatest defensive tackles in the NFL. Karras was either first- or second-team All-Pro nine times in his career.

In a book written about him by George Plimpton, Karras revealed in a 1970 interview that his dream was to be in a cowboy movie -- a dream which came true when he portrayed "Mongo" in "Blazing Saddles."

To reach Derek Gentile:,
(413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile.


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