MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Without doubt, Jeter in a class by himself

Without doubt, Jeter in a class by himself

Cue the laugh track. Then send in the clowns after the dancing bears and the elephants on roller skates. I mean, surely New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon was joking earlier this month in Spring Training when he referred to David Wright as "our Jeter."

Maybe it was a motivational ploy.

Either that or it was Wilpon's attempt to get more clicks at Citi Field from pinstripe lovers when the Yankees leave town.

Whatever the case, Wright is no Derek Jeter. But don't get me wrong. This isn't a knock against Wright, especially since he is a wonderful third baseman with a couple of Gold Gloves. He also has spent his nine seasons with the Mets as a prolific slugger and a solid citizen.

Only Jeter is Jeter. In fact, for one of the few times in baseball history -- and perhaps, ever -- somebody holds the undisputed role of baseball's Most Revered Player.

When Babe Ruth was Jeter during the 1920s and the early 1930s, Lou Gehrig followed closely behind.

Joe DiMaggio always had Ted Williams.

While Stan Musial couldn't separate himself from Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle had both of them.

They all had Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

Jackie Robinson? No question he was unique in so many ways when it came to his universal acclaim beyond balls and strikes. The same went for Sandy Koufax with his brilliant left arm that did the unprecedented and his reclusive nature that enhanced his mystique.

It's just that Robinson and Koufax had several of those aforementioned baseball icons to share much of their spotlight.

Decades later, Cal Ripken Jr. had Tony Gwynn.

Then there is Jeter. Even Wright acknowledged the peerless ways of the 38-year-old shortstop for the New York Yankees known as Mr. November, Captain Clutch and just plain awesome.

"The resume kind of speaks for itself as far as what [Jeter's] done on the field," Wright told ESPN New York's Adam Rubin at the Mets' spring camp when asked his opinion on Wilpon's comments. "And, most importantly, he's got a handful of rings. Literally, a handful."

Jeter has five World Series rings, to be exact. He won the first of them during his rookie year with the Yankees in 1996, and then he won three more over the next four years.

In contrast, Wright has made one playoff appearance with the Mets, and it didn't lead to a World Series championship.

For Jeter, it's more than the rings, though.

It's everything.

Even the so-called bad things in Jeter's career either evolved into something good or into nothing at all.

That's amazing stuff since the East Coast has more prying eyes with cameras and notebooks than anyplace on earth. Consider, too, that Jeter ranks with Spike Lee, the Statue of Liberty and cheesecakes as the most visible things around New York's five boroughs.

Jeter also is a bachelor who has dated famous women, and he gets enough pennies from the Yankees on a yearly basis (around $16 million) to attract trouble without seeking it.

Still, no scandals for Jeter -- none that stick.

There was the late George Steinbrenner suggesting that Jeter enjoyed New York's night life too much. The controversy lasted long enough for the Yankees owner and Jeter to turn the whole situation into a highly popular national commercial.

Chad Curtis once did the unthinkable. He blasted Jeter in the middle of the Yankees' clubhouse for not responding the way Curtis would have liked during a brawl against the Seattle Mariners.

Let's see. Jeter or Curtis?

Curtis was gone from the Yankees soon afterward.

There was the icy relationship between Jeter and Alex Rodriguez after Rodriguez joined the Yankees in 2004. They were considered buddies earlier in their careers, and the whole thing kept headline writers busy for the New York tabloids -- but only for a while.

That's because nobody cared whether Rodriguez and Jeter carpooled together after Rodriguez kept vanishing at the plate in the playoffs. Then came Rodriguez's admitted involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, which also kept the focus elsewhere.

In case you're wondering, baseball's steroid talk over the years has never involved Jeter.

Not even a whisper.

Then there was that picture of a supposedly chunky Jeter in a New York tabloid during the offseason, as he continued his rehabilitation from a broken ankle.

The picture and the accompanying story suggested that Jeter wasn't exactly diligent in his workouts.

A few days later, Jeter surfaced at Yankee Stadium looking fit and trim, and fans saw that same Jeter last week in Spring Training when he jogged onto the field in Tampa, Fla., for the Yankees' first full-squad workout.

The cheers for Jeter were loud and long.

Now think about it. How many other players in the game today would get an ovation just for practicing?

Nobody. That said, Buster Posey has the best chance among the rest of becoming Jeter someday. He has played just three years with the San Francisco Giants. He missed the majority of that middle year due to a knee injury, but get this: After each of his two full Major League seasons, the Giants won World Series championships.

That's the stuff of Jeter.

Posey also joins Jeter with a Boy Scout image. But unlike Jeter, the 25-year-old catcher hasn't held that image over nearly two decades.

Elsewhere, Albert Pujols was easing closer to Jeter during his 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was the new Musial, just as Jeter became the new Ruth, DiMaggio, Berra and Mantle -- as in all of those players sparkling as lifetime members of their original club.

Then Pujols' light dimmed after he bolted from the adoring arms of Cardinals fans to snatch the free-agent cash ($240 million, give or take a few million) of the Los Angeles Angels.

As for other challengers to replace or challenge Jeter these days, well, they just aren't there.

Jeter is even more special than we thought.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.