x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Derek Jeter, baseball's Mr Cool turns 37

Belated happy 37th birthday, Derek Jeter. Despite age catching up with him, Jeter still has it all, on and off the field.

Derek Jeter tries to keep his private life quiet. He is reportedly engaged to actress Minka Kelly.
Derek Jeter tries to keep his private life quiet. He is reportedly engaged to actress Minka Kelly.

Belated happy 37th birthday, Derek Jeter. As my boss would tell you, I miss deadline on occasions, so please accept my regards three days late.

You are the coolest baseball player of your generation, so there is so much to say. Being on the disabled list, with little to do except rehabilitate your injured calf, you should have time to read it all.

For starters, heartfelt high-fives as you approach your 3,000th hit. Six more to go. No accomplishment in baseball better measures sustained excellence. Only 27 others have reached the milestone.

The distinction is a product of longevity and commitment, which means you come to play everyday.

In your 15 previous seasons, all while wearing the New York Yankees pinstripes, you have played in at least 148 games (out of 162) in all but one season.

The marker that separates good batters from mediocre is a .300 average, and you exceeded the target in 12 of those years.

As reliable as you have been at the plate, what truly dazzles is your grace in the field. Your personal trophy case is the Fort Knox of Gold Gloves, with five.

Above all, you have been a team guy, holding your composure whenever the inevitable brush fires in Yankeeville flare up.

Surely the statistic that most makes you flash the smile that causes swooning in half of the population is five championships.

With all of those World Series rings, you barely have an available finger for a wedding band. (No doubt you have used that as an excuse for not getting hitched.) The 3,000 club is impressive, but not nearly as much as Derek's Ex-Girlfriends Sorority.

If the tabloids can be trusted, you have dated Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, Jordana Brewster, a former Miss Universe, a Victoria's Secret model and both starlet Jessicas, Biel and Alba.

With that line-up of ladies, how do you arrive at the ballpark always ready to play? Let's move on, since you hate it when your love life is brought up.

Not to go too deep on you with this thought, but bear with me for another paragraph. Your multi-ethnic background (white mother, black father) is increasingly a reflection of the United States.

Every demographic needs a role model, and the 2.5 per cent of Americans who identify themselves as biracial certainly have one. Your appeal crosses all borders, but this subset feels a special attachment.

Now that you are sufficiently buttered up, I cannot resist getting on your case about last off-season. The Yankees could have handled your contract negotiations better. The Yankees executive Hank (son of George) Steinbrenner is the apple that did not fall far from a tree that sometimes bears rotten fruit.

Still, you could not have been serious in seeking six years and US$150 million (Dh550m), right? What is it about you Hall of Famers-in-waiting who believe you can maintain productivity while pushing 40? Or think you deserve a lifetime achievement bonus?

It is not just you, Derek. Albert Pujols, 31, expects eight more years from the Cardinals for way north of $200m.

That he has joined you on the disabled list is no sign of physical decay, but he was not exactly tearing it up before the broken forearm.

Likewise, you are hitting .260, lower than most shortstops. Your range afield has contracted. It happens. Accept it.

Keep in mind that your marriage - oops, sorry to mention that word - with the Yankees has been mutually beneficial. The Steinbrenners have paid you a quarter of a billion bucks.

Baseball increasingly is a young man's game, and their offer of $51m for three seasons that you grudgingly accepted was appropriate.

I know the media, with whom you generally are cordial if not terribly revealing, has poked fun at your $7.7m mansion taking shape in the Tampa-St Petersburg area in Florida, calling it "The House That Jeter Built" and "St Jetersburg". Hey, it is your money, even though more bathrooms (nine) than bedrooms (seven) seems disproportional.

Maybe you are planning for the possibility of quadruplets, assuming reports of your engagement to the actress Minka Kelly - dubbed by Esquire magazine as "Sexiest Woman Alive" - are accurate.

OK, time to wrap this up - my best wishes, not a gift. If you were expecting a birthday present, how can anyone pick out something for the guy who seemingly has everything?

Well, that is my excuse. Same as yours, maintaining your bachelorhood because there is no room for a wedding ring.

So, happy 37th birthday. And happy 3,000th.