Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Jeter Gets 3,000 Hits. What's That Mean to You?

When the New York Yankees' newest icon went 5-for-5 to become just the 28th player in over 125 years of Major League Baseball to accumulate 3,000 hits, the sports world went wild.

And why not?

That's a very high mountain to climb. To give perspective on just how high, sportswriters like to equate that feat with similar ones in other sports. So you hear that 3,000 hits in baseball is like 500 goals in NHL hockey. Or 100 touchdowns in NFL football. Or 20,000 points in NBA basketball.

And that's great, except that most of us haven't played in the NHL or NFL or NBA.

How can you measure this in terms of your life?

Well, I've attempted to explain Mr. Jeter's accomplishment in the context of careers, pastimes and hobbies to which I believe regular readers of this blog will relate. And so …

If Derek Jeter were a salesperson 3,000 hits would be like convincing the Pope that gay marriage is really cool, or like selling the NHL on the idea that Phoenix, Arizona is a hockey town.

If Derek Jeter were a mechanic 3,000 hits would be like completing an average of 10 oil changes and four state inspections every weekday for 15 years.

If Derek Jeter were a bookkeeper 3,000 hits would be like never, ever losing a single book. Wait … what is it that a bookkeeper does again?

If Derek Jeter were a doctor 3,000 hits would be like having a lifetime Patient Mortality Rate (PMR) of less than 8 percent. (Although it's true that, measured over a long enough period of time, the Patient Mortality Rate for every doctor is 100 percent, I think the trick is to make sure that the patient is under the care of another physician at the time of his or her demise.)

If Derek Jeter were a bartender 3,000 hits would be like pouring 50,000 draft beers, or mixing 25,000 gins and tonics, or constructing 50 Mojitos.

If Derek Jeter were a gravedigger 3,000 hits would be like excavating a triple plot with a teaspoon.

If Derek Jeter were an attorney 3,000 hits would be like representing O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony, Robert Blake – and Phil Spector (nobody bats a thousand).

If Derek Jeter were a serial killer 3,000 hits would put him in the category of New York's Joel Rifkin, who is believed to be responsible for 17 murders. [Note: The short but productive spree of Jack the Ripper equates roughly to the baseball career of Sandy Koufax; whereas Pete Rose's record number of 4256 hits would fit 19th century British serial killer Amelia Dyer, who is suspected of the highest total ever – more than 400 deaths.]

If Derek Jeter were a nurse 3,000 hits would be like giving 100,000 shots, or assisting in 1,500 surgeries, or deflecting 5,000 sexual advances.

If Derek Jeter were a flight attendant 3,000 hits would be like logging 2 million miles in the air or stifling the blood-curdling screams of 800 passengers who suddenly discover that they are terrified of flying. [Also, see above reference to sexual advances.]

If Derek Jeter were a secretary 3,000 hits would be like having his title changed to “Personal Assistant.”

If Derek Jeter were a truck driver 3,000 hits would be like driving all of the toys to the North Pole each Christmas season since the Great Elfin Emancipation Treaty of 1968 made on-site manufacturing impractical. (Oh, you didn't know? Sorry.)

If Derek Jeter were a teacher 3,000 hits would be like introducing Stephen Hawking to physics or convincing Eric Clapton to put down that French horn and pick up a guitar for goodness sake.

If Derek Jeter were a plumber 3,000 hits would be the equivalent of 15 miles of pipe installed in one-to-three foot increments in bathrooms across America … bet you thought I would go with a big pile of excrement there, didn't you?

I hope it's clearer to everyone now just how great an accomplishment reaching 3,000 hits really is. Derek Jeter is an outstanding example of determination, dependability and dedication that is rarely seen in sports. It's difficult to put a value on that kind of total commitment.

Difficult, but not impossible. It's $15 million-per-year.