Archives for posts with tag: shortstop

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.

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It’s been a week since Derek Jeter announced that 2014 will be his last season playing baseball. I know I needed about a week to accept the news, out of both shock and disbelief. But he we are, and Derek Jeter is retiring after one more season at short. I think we can all agree that the writing was on the wall considering the utter disappointment that was 2013 and the fact that Derek Jeter is only getting older.

And yet, to see him actually make the announcement, on Facebook of all mediums, was still a shock. It was a shock because he has spent the better part of his career finding a way stay private, despite playing for the most polarizing sports franchise in the biggest media market. He has done all he can to deflect attention whenever possible even while being the unofficial spokesperson for the Bronx Bombers. After seeing Mariano Rivera’s farewell tour last year, you would think that he would want to avoid such attention. And yet, you can see Derek Jeter’s announcement as being the ultimate sacrifice by a teammate since now the media will focus away from the disappointment that was the 2013 Yankees, as well as the arrival of Masahiro Tanaka and the A-Roid mess. The media can focus on the last year of The Captain, along with all he has accomplished and another potential Yankee playoff run. This can take much needed heat off of the incoming free agents who have already shown an appreciation for staying out of the spotlight.

It was also a shock because he is the Yankee shortstop and has been for almost twenty years. He isn’t just a Yankee, he’s an institution. I grew up in the days of Bucky Dent and suffered through the years that were Andre Robertson, Bobby Meachem, Roy Smalley, and Wayne Tolleson, just to name a few. Just imagine the fans born in the late 80’s and early 90’s who only know Derek Jeter as the Yankee shortstop? They have a lived a blessed life, and now a change is gonna come.

But enough about change for now. This upcoming Yankee season is all about one thing: Derek Jeter. It’s not just about celebrating the greatness he brought to pinstripes but cherishing how lucky we as fans have been to watch him play and count on him when the games mattered most. I do not know how much Derek Jeter has left in the tank or if he can come close to his MYP-like 2012 but I will take 75% Derek Jeter over any current player in baseball. Whether he’s on the field or at the plate or running the bases, it is as if anything is possible.

And in my fandom, I plan on not only watching every televised Yankee game I can, I will break my own rule and attend a Yankee game at Commerica this August. I am also looking into attending games in the Bronx and Fenway as well. This is actually good news for Yankees haters, since my recent attendance of Yankees games has meant eight straight Yankee losses.

I look forward to this season more than any previous season where the Yankees were considered World Series contenders. This is the year of The Captain. This is the year when being a Yankee fan is important now more than ever. This is the year Derek Jeter leaves it all on the field. This is the year that Derek Jeter reminds us what Yankee fandom and baseball are all about. He is ready, and so am I. Are you?

This is what I have been waiting for. From spring training, Yankee fans knew the season would be a tough haul with injuries piling up as if it were a Monty Python skit. But the one thing that Yankee fans like me were waiting for was the return of #2 at shortstop. And yesterday, we got a glimpse of what the rest of season may have to offer.

Seeing Derek Jeter back in the Yankee lineup, I felt like a New York Knight fan getting to see Roy Hobbs back in RF for the pennant deciding game. I’m not saying Jeter has any light shattering homeruns in him but he’s back and with him a sense of normalcy and excitement returns to the Bronx. A hit in his first at bat, along with an RBI and run scored, was quite a contribution in his first game back. And, no, it wasn’t perfect, since he had to leave in the 8th with tightness in his quad. As a fellow 39 year old, I’m hoping it’s not too different than the recurring quad injuries that slow me down for a few days at a time. But again this all about hope, which Derek Jeter brings back to the Bronx with abundance.

I’m not saying that Derek Jeter is the key to get the Yankees over the ump and turn them into a legitimate playoff contender this season. Even I’m not sure he has that much magic left in his bag. I really don’t see the Yanks winning more than 85 games this year, which won’t cut it. I’m just happy as a Yankee fan and baseball fan to see Derek Jeter back where he belongs in pinstripes. He will not last forever, I know this, but it’s too soon for Derek Jeter to go gentle into that good night.

Besides, with another 15 hits Derek Jeter passes Paul Molitor for 8th on the all-time hits list. That is an exciting prospect. And if those hits lead to some Yankee wins, then that’s a bonus. Like he’s shown throughout his career, anything can happen when Derek Jeter’s on the field. And we as fans are in perpetual awe.

Welcome back, Captain.