Archives for posts with tag: Evil Empire

I wrote this piece in 2014 during Derek Jeter’s last season and thought it was worth sharing again this weekend with the Yankees not surprisingly retiring his #2.

 

It’s been twenty long years that seem to have gone by in a wink. Derek Jeter’s career is coming to an end and as proved by Thursday night’s heroics he still has a little magic left. He is not going out at the top of his game or in the midst of another pennant run but 2014 does feel like the right time to walk away. This final season has been a mix of nostalgia, gratitude, harsh reality, speculation, evaluation, criticism, and old-fashioned baseball drama. And now is a good time to remember what we should we remember and what we have been honored to experience with #2 in pinstripes.

Derek Jeter is class. He has spent the last twenty seasons playing for the most storied baseball franchise in the biggest media market and has handled every moment with dignity and resolve. Just imagine how you would handle the pressure of such a task while dealing with the 24-7 news cycle and droves of reporters second guessing your every move. Now marvel at how Derek Jeter has not only played but carried himself. He realized very early that everyone is watching and has been a true ambassador for the Yankees and the game of baseball.

Derek Jeter is humble. In this exploding era of social media where most athletes crave attention like Gollum craves the precious ring, Derek Jeter has shined in the spotlight and done everything in his power to not bathe in it. Derek is the anti-Reggie, always ready to laud his team’s accomplishments and avoid any urge to pat himself on the back. He has taken his share of curtain calls, and even turned a few down, but even when he does step of the dugout to the delight of thousands he acts as if to say, “Not a big deal, just doing my job.”

Derek Jeter is respectful. The past few months has been a never ending barrage of athletes behaving badly. With the retirement of Derek Jeter comes the absence of a special individual who treated the game and his profession as a privilege, not a right. You have never heard Derek Jeter’s name uttered in the same sentence as the following words: drugs, DUI, armed, battery, assault, arrest. There is that slight possibility that Mr. Jeter has Olivia Pope on his payroll but I and many others will always be willing to believe the best having never seen Jeter’s worst, if such a concept exists.

Derek Jeter is hustle. We know the plays and they have been replayed in a continuous loop the last few weeks. Derek Jeter has played his entire career not only with a first-rate skill set but with keen instincts and a burning desire to win. When I think of Derek Jeter I think of the player who is busting his ass to 1B on a routine grounder while down five runs in the eighth inning. That’s Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter is a Yankee. From day one, Derek Jeter understood the pride, passion, and history that comes with wearing the pinstripes. He has been aware of the expectations and never backed down from a challenge. The Yankees may be seen as the Evil Empire but Derek Jeter has always been the bright beacon of hope and all that can be good about the Yankees and baseball. Tom Verducci said it best when he said, “If you don’t like Derek Jeter, you don’t like baseball.”

In the end, Derek Jeter is not the greatest Yankee of all-time. But he is the greatest Yankee of my lifetime, and that’s all that matters and he will be missed. Thanks, Captain.

I did not see this one coming. Did anyone? I would have to say this ranks right up there with the biggest surprises in my lifetime which includes Congressman Sonny Bono and eight seasons of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

So much for the Yankees trying to lower the payroll. Or maybe this was a statement to Robinson Cano that he doesn’t get to put a stranglehold on the Yankee economy. I am concerned about the length and amount of money in the deal for Jacoby Ellsbury, considering his health over the last few years but it’s still hard to not be excited. The signing also means the end of the Curtis Granderson era in the Bronx. That concerns me as well since Granderson is a highly regarded player around baseball who’s only sin seems to be getting hit by two pitches last season which limited him to just sixty-one games. On the other hand, the Yankee outfield now has Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki, not mention 4th outfielder/DH Alfonso Soriano. I am having images of the Cardinals of the 1980’s and “Whitey Ball.” Beware American League catchers.

Ellsbury’s signing also adds another chapter to the growing history of Red Sox who have become Yankees. From Babe Ruth to Sparky Lyle to Luis Tiant to Wade Boggs to Roger Clemens to Johnny Damon and so on. There hasn’t been a lot of movement in the opposite direction with the most notable Yankees to Sawx changes made by Mike Torrez and David Cone. Is it really a sign of betrayal and why is it seemingly one-sided from Boston to New York? Sox Nation can complain all they want about the “Evil Empire” but keep in mind that in addition to the $100,000 that Harry Frazee got for Babe Ruth he was also happy to be done with the Babe’s hard drinking and partying, which seemed less of a distraction in New York. Additionally, free agents like Boggs and Clemens were discarded by Sox management who deemed them over the hill. I only hope Ellsbury can prove to be more like Johnny Damon and a lot less like Kevin Youkilis.

I don’t know what the remainder of the Yankee off-season will yield, but they have my attention, as well as the rest of the league. We will see.

I wasn’t born into my fandom the way Jose was.  He came into the world a Yankees fan; I discovered the Red Sox.  I was in Jr. High when I found  baseball, and being in Oklahoma meant that there wasn’t a local team for me to latch onto.  But after a little looking, I found the team for me.  There was something about the Red Sox–the curse, the perpetual underdog status–that was for me.

Now, I have never been as fanatic as Jose in my fandom.  I don’t memorize stats,  nor did I dream of naming a child after a Yankee (we compromised and he got to name the dog).  I simply root for the Red Sox, and that means that I have gotten my heart broken so many times–I came to the Sox in the 1980s, after all.  Being a Red Sox fan teaches you how to expect the worst even when you’re winning, but it also teaches you that losing in the most spectacular way possible sucks, but it doesn’t end you–you get up, dust yourself off, and start planning for next year.  If anything, it made me resilient.

And I needed that when I married a Yankee fan.

He knew before we ever met face to face that I was a Boston fan.  We joked about it, but once  it was clear that things were becoming serious, I realized that we needed some ground rules…

One, gloating is allowed, but only up to a point.  As long as it is the regular season (excepting the last few weeks or so) and both teams are doing reasonably well, either one of us can gloat.   If, however, one team is doing horribly, is sitting in last place, or is just otherwise falling apart, the gloating must stop (so basically, last year, Jose had to keep his mouth shut).  Also, gloating needs to be timely–you can’t keep bringing up a win three months later.

Two, find something nice to say about the other team when you need to.  For me, for the longest time, I focused in on Hideki Matsui, a player I genuinely respected.  If we ended up at a Yankee game or there was one on TV and things were going horribly for them, I knew that I could at least say something nice about Matsui.  Sometimes caring wife has to trump Sox fan.

Three, stop talking baseball if you need to.  This is a rule I tend to invoke at least once a year.  If the Yankees are pounding on the Sox and Jose is just too darn happy about it, I call a moratorium on all baseball talk around me.  That means I don’t want to hear ANYTHING–even if Jose wants to talk about the Royals, I don’t want to hear it.  If things get really bad, I will call a moratorium on televised baseball too–it can’t be on when I’m in the room.

As to that, rule number four is respect your partner’s superstitions.  For me, it has to do with watching.  I am a very superstitious watcher–if I turn on the TV and the Sox start doing poorly, I immediately turn the TV off.  Jose, on the other hand, is fixated on clothing–wearing certain hats and jerseys.  He allows me my on and off switch, and I try not to make fun of the clothes (although, I am sick of Yankees gear–especially that awful Got Rings? shirt).

Five, find common ground.  For us, there are several areas of common baseball ground: mutual enemies, minor league ball, and keeping score.  Over the years, we have developed a roster of teams and players we BOTH hate.  That helps.  So does our mutual love of watching minor league ball.  And, I am fanatical about keeping score at games–a habit I picked up after I started dating Jose, and one he has encouraged every time we go see a game live.

Six, once the post-season is over, it is over.  Leave it in the past.  That means wins and losses, trades, scandals, anything.  Sometimes this rule  is harder to follow than others (we’ve both seen a World Series win in the years we’ve been together), but usually, we’re both pretty good about letting the season go.

Those are the rules, but that said, there are still times I wish Jose wasn’t a Yankee fan.  Yes, I laugh any time something bad happens to them.  Yes, I have been known to join in when a “Yankees suck” chant starts (man, do I miss Boston).  Yes, I still refer to them as the “Evil Empire” whenever I can.  And yes, I still grit my teeth when his family calls to rub in a Yankee win.  But I put up with it because I love my husband, and because, deep down, I hold on to the hope that some day I’m going to convince him of the error of his ways and bring him into the light of Sox Nation.