Cap

By Michael Kim

 Hello sports and comic book fans, this is Michael from the back issue department for this installment on the national pastime and the First Avenger.  With the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason in full swing, the 2014 season is drawing to a close.  For one player, his season and career has ended: New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.  Jeter, along with MLB, has said their goodbyes and thanks.  The thought came to mind to thank Jeter the comic book way.  If the 11th Captain in NY Yankees history Derek Jeter were a comic book character, he would be Captain America, Steven Rogers.

PEDs

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Performance Enhancement Drugs (PEDs.)  Athletes want to be bigger, stronger, and faster.  They want to be better athletes.  PEDs have proven to provide that goal but are also illegal in the world of sports.  Why do some athletes use them?  The reasons range from recuperating from injury or surgery, fame and/or fortune. Derek Jeter never used PEDs.  He played the game clean and without speculation about his skills and talent on the field.  Joe Simon’s and Jack Kirby’s Captain America was a skinny kid from New York named Steven Rogers.  Eager to join the United States Army during World War II, Rogers would be deemed physically unable to enlist, 4-F.  However, Rogers would be selected for an experimental project that would result in Captain America.  He would be injected with a super soldier serum created by Abraham Erskine/Dr. Josef Reinstein.  Rogers would be bigger, stronger and faster not to hit homeruns, but to fight for his country and for our allies.  Rogers would take what was given to him and do something good with it.  Please show the elephant the door.

The Core Four

During Jeter’s 20 year baseball career, the New York Yankees would win 5 World Series Championships.  In 2003, Jeter would be named the 11th Captain of the Yankees.  He would be surrounded by some of the best talent in MLB, notably catcher Jorge Posada, pitchers Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.  All four would enter the majors in 1995 and become the foundation for the team’s title run which included three straight championships from 1998 to 2000.  Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettitte would be given the nickname “The Core Four.”  Captain America would join The Avengers in The Avengers #4, 1964.  He would be discovered in a block of ice, thawed and recruited to join the team.  It would be his first appearance in the Silver Age of comic books.  Cap would become one of the most important members in Avengers history.  In the cinematic world, Cap would be part of Phase One of Marvel Studios march to The Avengers film.  Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor would begin that journey.  The final piece would be Captain America, The First Avenger.  The foundation was set for Marvel’s The Avengers to hit theaters and result in record box office numbers.  Cap, Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man would be Marvel’s own cinematic “Core Four”…Fantastic was taken.

The Uniform

Cap: “The Uniform?  Aren’t the stars and stripes a little…old-fashioned?”

Agent Coulson: “With everything that’s happening and the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned.”

Marvel’s The Avengers, 2012

 

The stars and stripes on Cap and the NY Yankee home uniform pinstripes on Jeter are not old-fashioned, they’re iconic.  The first American flag featuring the stars and stripes was designed in 1776.  The stars and stripes would be the mainstay as Cap would wear the flag in Captain America Comics #1, 1941.  Not only would he wear it as a uniform, it would be proudly displayed on his shield as he would defeat his enemies for years to come.  After a name change in 1913, the NY Yankees were established.  The home uniform pinstripes were introduced in 1936 and not much has changed since.  From Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle, Jeter would do justice by wearing the uniform that so many iconic baseball players and hall of famers would wear before him.  He would help the Yankees franchise continue the tradition of winning championships.

RedSkull

 

Red

There will always be a chief rival.  The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees dates back before the creation of the American League East Division, 1969.  They have been opponents for over 100 years.  In 1919, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.  “The Curse of the Bambino” was created.  The Red Sox would go 86 years without a World Series Championship with the Yankees contributing to their misery.  The Yankees would win 26 WSCs during the “Curse.”  At times, it would be at the expense of the Red Sox.  Regardless of record or players, the games between the Sox and Yanks have been heated and classic with nothing short of dramatic.  The Red Skull is the archenemy of Captain America since 1941.  They’ve fought time and time again.  Cap has a winning record against the Red Skull.  The bad guys can’t win, right?

Cap2

 

Great

“The Greatest Generation” was a term used by journalist Tom Brokaw in 1998.  It referenced those who lived in America during the Great Depression in the 1930’s to 40’s and would go onto fight in World War II.  With 18 players (and counting) inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY and with 27 World Series Championships (and counting) in team history, the Yankees have the resume to be MLB’s most successful franchise to date.  Jeter and Cap are not only members of great teams; they’re a nod to true greatness.  Steven Rogers, Cap, is a man of “The Greatest Generation.”  He represents them through his actions and character.  Jeter went about his business without controversy.  He followed first baseman Don Mattingly (“Donnie Baseball”) as the 11th captain of Yankees.  Not only did Jeter make Mattingly proud of his accomplishments, but the players of Yankee lore as well.

Respect Jeter

 

Respect

You earn it.  Cap earned it through war.  From WWII, to a secret war, an infinity war and a civil war, Rogers would certainly earn that respect.  He’s fought an axis of evil, super villains and heroes, a class of gifted students and a harsh Winter.  He’s even come back from “death.”  Before he was named Captain of the Yankees, Jeter would be nicknamed “Captain Clutch” and “Mr. November” for his performances in the postseason.  From “The Flip” to a walk off homerun in the World Series, Jeter has shined on the biggest stage in baseball.  Whether it was the regular or postseason, every game meant something.  He was willing to run down a fly ball in foul territory as his momentum took him head first into third base side field seats.  Bloodied and bruised, Jeter would play the next day.  He would earn the respect of the Yankees, the fans and the entire baseball community.  Every team needs a leader.  You can’t go wrong with Jeter and Rogers.  The Yankees and The Avengers certainly lucked out.

 

Jeter

 

The right way

Derek Jeter spent 20 years playing in the media capital of the world.  In a society driven by the media where everything you do is scrutinized or praised, Jeter would block both out and end up being one of the greatest in NY Yankees history as well as MLB history.  Unfazed by internet chatter, Jeter’s focus was baseball and it showed on and off the field.  He showed his respect to the game.  He was never a burden to his teammates or to MLB.  He did it his way that ended up being the right way.  Steven Rogers might be a man out of time, but his way is a blueprint of what heroes should be.  It’s all about heart.  It takes more than superpowers to be a hero, it takes sacrifice.  The Super Solider/Captain America program was experimental with no guarantee it would work, but Rogers’ intentions were clear.  It was to fight in the war, fight for the soldier next to him, for God and for country.  Steve Rogers, Captain America, would keep those principles that would make him the hero he is today while reminding us why his generation is the greatest there is.

 

We tip our cap to the Captain of the New York Yankees Derek Jeter, our Captain America.  They lead by example and have earned our respects.  They’re a bridge to the past, paying homage to the great ones before them by doing it the right way.  Their leadership to their respective teams is and was irreplaceable.  While Steven Rogers’ journey continues as Captain America, Derek Jeter’s career ends leaving an enduring legacy.

 

Thank you for reading this entry on sports and comic books.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer, and not Midtown Comics.  Additionally, Midtown Comics makes no representations as to the accuracy of any of the information expressed herein.

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