Few come to Jeter's defense


Derek Jeter long has displayed an ability to attract some of the world's most beautiful women, dating a multitude of models, singers and actresses.

But the New York Yankees star also apparently has cast his spell on the American League's managers and coaches, who must have had a man-crush on the 36-year-old to vote for him as this year's AL Gold Glove shortstop.

The Associated Press correctly predicted Tuesday that Jeter's selection would set off a dispute over whether the award still is relevant.

"Nobody who really follows baseball believes that Jeter is an outstanding defensive player," ESPN.com's Rob Neyer wrote.

Wrote Aaron Gleeman of nbcsports.com: "The notion that Jeter, at age 36, was the best defensive shortstop in the (AL) this season is simply absurd. He just isn't. This is as close to a fact as something relatively subjective can get."

Baseballreference.com wrote "we can't believe it either" next to Jeter's name before taking it down, and Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King tweeted, "If Jeter can win a Gold Glove, think (former Dallas Cowboys coach) Wade Phillips can win Coach of the Year?"

Jeter was charged with only six errors this season and had a career-high .989 fielding percentage en route to his fifth Gold Glove. But the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham wrote those numbers reflect more his lack of range than his skill.

Jeter, who has been linked in the past to such starlets as Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Scarlett Johannson, took the criticism hard for a moment. But his mood brightened when he remembered he was a wealthy, five-time World Series champion engaged to actress Minka Kelly -- who Esquire magazine recently dubbed the "sexiest woman alive."

■ KING ZOLTAN -- Punters usually don't get much publicity, but Zoltan Mesko is an exception. The Wall Street Journal recently dubbed the New England Patriots rookie the "most interesting man in the NFL," which led to a Mesko T-shirt that states "I don't normally punt, but when I do, I prefer Zoltan Mesko."

Born in communist Romania, the charismatic Mesko, who speaks five languages, was a cult hero at Michigan. He became the first Wolverines special teams player to be named a captain, twice was named the school's homecoming king and inspired at least five T-shirts, including "Zoltan for Heisman."

The 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound Mesko is 10th in the NFL in net punting average (39.5 yards), but he might have to run for his life Sunday, when the Patriots face the Steelers and former Michigan linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who has a score to settle with him.

Several months after Mesko accidentally hit Woodley in the face with a crutch on campus and then ran off, Woodley pulled up in his SUV and confronted Mesko, who was with Tim North, his former college roommate.

"LaMarr gets out, and he says to Zoltan, 'I remember what you did,' and started chasing him," North told the Globe. "Meanwhile, he forgot to put his car in park, and it started rolling and almost hit the hockey rink. He jumps in the car to stop it, and Zoltan kept running. That was pretty funny."

COMPILED BY TODD DEWEY LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

 

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