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More over, Reggie

MIAMI -- The folks in Atlantic City didn't stop awarding Miss America's after the first year. Playboy didn't permanently reserve one month for the first nude model who enjoyed slow walks at sunset on the beach. The folks in Hollywood didn't name Sean Connery 007 for life.

So, it's time we finally take that Mr. October title away from Reggie Jackson and crown the man who deserves it more. Derek Jeter. Alex Rodriguez is baseball's best shortstop for six months every year. But Jeter is the best the one month that matters most.

Every year October he flies in from his Fortress of Solitude and performs some feat so spectacular that you keep looking for the Vegas showgirls and the white tigers. Every time you look up, he's throwing out a runner at home with a no-look shovel pass or winning a game that started in October by slamming a home run in November.

On the Jeter scale, Tuesday's performance in Game 3 was a mere 7. After all, he struck out in one at-bat ("Choker!"). But then he accounted for all three of New York's hits against the otherwise unhittable Josh Beckett. He doubled to left in the fourth, singled to center in the sixth and doubled to right in the eighth. He scored the tying run in the fourth inning, the winning run in the eighth and an insurance run in the ninth to lead the Yankees to a 6-1 victory over the Marlins.

Tuesday's three hits gave him 119 in 96 postseason games. The three runs gave him 25 in 29 career World Series games. Of the 121 players who played at least 20 World Series games, only Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig scored more regularly than Jeter.

"He's my idol,'' New York catcher Jorge Posada said. "He goes out there and gets hit after hit after hit. He gets locked in when he gets into the postseason.''

I know, you've read this before. We all have. We've been reading it since Jeter played in his first World Series in 1996. He's played on so many World Series champions that he's been asked to the White House more often than the Russian ambassador.

"Every type of experience you can have in the postseason, me and Bernie Williams have been in it,'' Jeter said. "We've been in big games. We've won and we've lost. We've been in close games that we've won and we've lost. I think the experience helps in terms of keeping your emotions under control.''

When New York lost the World Series in 2001, the Yankees reacted in various ways. Some players cried. Some players went around the clubhouse and said good-bye to teammates. Some players just looked stunned. Jeter was the only one who simply looked angry, as if someone had just stolen his wallet.

"You look in his eyes, you see something special because he's a leader, he was a leader when he was 20 years old,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's dealing with some physical problems but it doesn't keep him from needing to win.''

And George Steinbrenner questioned Jeter's commitment last winter? George says something stupid virtually every time he opens his mouth but that was right up there with his declaration that he wouldn't be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Yankees when he bought the team.

"The thing about the postseason is everything is magnified,'' Jeter said. "Every game counts, every at-bat counts, every pitch counts. People just pay more attention to the details in the postseason.''

Here's a partial list of those details: His relay throw to gun down Timo Perez in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. The first pitch home run in Game 4 of the Subway Series. The season-saving no-look relay in Game 3 of the 2001 division series. The diving catch in the stands in Game 5 of the same series. The double off Pedro that started New York's Game 7 rally against the Red Sox last week.

And that's just the list from this century.

Just imagine what he could do if he was actually healthy. Jeter always leaves a World Series game looking like he spent the night working security on the Jerry Springer Show. He wore a wrap on his leg Tuesday. And a wrap on his right elbow. And one on his left wrist. And after the game he needed ice for his shoulders.

Not that he complained. He never does. He just answers questions as politely and blandly as he can. Reporters are always looking for a provocative "I'm the straw that stirs the drink'' quote from Jeter. He never bites. He's infuriating for us. I can't imagine what he's like for opponents.

Jeter answered a few questions about Tuesday's game and then he began thinking about Game 4 as he showered and got dressed.

I can't say for sure, but I think he put his pants on two legs at a time.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.