Taking into account team leadership and on-the-field-ability, which city has the better shortstop/linebacker duo?
Both sides have an active and retired player; all have been on the same team their entire career:
1. Baltimore: Ray Lewis and Cal Ripken, Jr.
2. New York: Lawrence Taylor and Derek Jeter
You can’t go wrong with either option here. All of these guys are fan favorites, but here are some slight advantages that each city has over the other.
Baltimore: This duo has not only the best leader in the NFL, but arguably one of the all-time greatest captains any sport has ever seen in Ray Lewis. There really isn’t another athlete who has had the innate ability to come into the league and immediately gain the respect from his entire team, delivering signature spine-chilling pregame speeches and then consistently leading by example. No one can deny the passion that the 13-time Pro Bowler and 2-time Defensive Player of the Year has brought to every game and on every play throughout his career.
When Baltimore fans think Orioles baseball, they think Cal Ripken, Jr. The Iron Man. The man that played in 2,632 consecutive games (and let’s be honest, no one is ever coming close to touching that record). While he doesn’t have the winning percentage or number of World Series rings Jeter has, he has had a larger impact on the game as a whole, helping the all-around shortstop get into the Hall of Fame with the third-highest voting percentage in history.
New York: Considered by many to be the best defensive player in the history of the NFL, Lawrence Taylor made it scary for anyone who tried to pass him on the football field. The fearless, tenacious linebacker was a sack machine, forcing most offensive coordinators to have to repeatedly change their game plans. While he is matched up against Ray Lewis, who has yet to finish his career, Taylor will always be known as the man who revolutionized the linebacker position.
Derek Jeter is the captain of the most storied franchise in all of sports. Even though he is heading into the tail end of his career and cannot cover as much ground on defense as he did in his prime, the Yankee’s all-time hits leader is still playing at a very high level. While he doesn’t have as much power as his opponent (Ripken), Jeter does have better stats in many other aspects of the game, including batting average and stolen bases. He has been a consistent face of the franchise for a long time now, which is hard to do in New York.
My pick: If this was a competition on the city with the most championships, New York would win. However, the two athletes representing Baltimore have my vote. By considering the two aspects (leadership and overall ability), Ray-Ray and the Iron Man have the slight edge for me. It will be interesting to see if this question develops a clear favorite when Lewis and Jeter are both retired. For now, it’s a close battle between the two cities.