Oh Captain, My Captain?

Posted: May 6, 2011 in MLB

Mr. New York, better known as Derek Jeter, was supposed to be coming off just a bad year in which his swing was changing, it wasn’t a big deal. His contract was supposed to be a no brainer, even though the whole ordeal was dragged through the mud and ended with the Yankees caving. Jeter and his team still felt, no they knew, that he was destined to have a comeback year and be back to a .300 hitting leadoff batter and starting short stop. The Yankees must have thought this too, after a long and nasty and sometimes public negotiation process they signed him to a 3 year $51 million contract with an $8 million player option in 2014.

Now some argued that the Yankees “owed” it to Jeter to sign him to big bucks, however the New England Patriots prove that nothing is “owed” in sports and that everything has its price. I for one said that Jeter was not “owed” this new deal and that he had given the Yankees his best years and in return the Yankees had given him 5 rings, over $180 million in salary and the opportunity to enjoy enormous Nike/Jordan and Gatorade contracts to pad his overflowing bank account. However the argument can be made in favour of Jeter as he brought a new image to the team. His squeaky clean persona and smile gave the Yankees a new brand that could help sell them to fans old and young.

Through his first 16 seasons with the club, Jeter averaged 13.8HR, 67 RBI and a .313 BA, which to anyone would be considered exceptional averages for a SS who could have several highlights DVDs just of himself. The running jump throw to first is a Jeter trademark and everyone remembers the backwards toss to home as he ran past the firstbase line into foul territory. But at what point do you tell a team legend, a Yankee all time great none the less, it’s time to pack up your cleats? Last night Yankee manager Joe Girardi sat a self proclaimed “healthy” Jeter claiming “You can’t play him every day, you just can’t do it. I think the fresher our players are, the more productive they’re going to be” (Wallace, ESPN). The fresher they’re going to be? One game over a 162 game season won’t make Jeter fresher unless you’re suggesting that he will sit at least one game a week. To me this points to a turning of the tide in which Girardi, a former teammate, wants to ease Jeter into retirement. It’s a tough spot for Joe because he’s been there, he’s worn the pinstripes and knows the feeling to be in Yankee stadium with the love and adoration that is bestowed upon a Yankee. He’s seen Jeter in the press room, work the crowd with his smile and charm, be cheered and worshipped in the house that Ruth built (before the move).

But now it seems that those times may be over, past the point of fading and officially in the rear view mirror of Jeter’s fairly easy drive through baseball. After being drafted as an 18yr old phenom and playing full time in 1996, he has posted great numbers year after year, dated high profile women all over New York and now engaged to one of the bright young actresses on TV. But to an athlete of Jeter’s stature and pedigree, being told your time is done before your heart and mind are ready to accept it is much tougher than we can imagine. His body may not be telling him that it’s done but the numbers are showing something is still not fixed from last years forgettable season.

Regardless after last season I like many other baseball fans, came to a realization that Derek Jeter is at the end of his illustrious and first ballot hall of fame career. Many Yankee fans will be quick to assign him the tag of “best Yankee of all time” as they probably only grew up watching the Steinbrenner Yankees of the 90’s and their winning ways. This could be a suitable title to give as he chases down the illusive mark of 3000 hits to put on his resume. One thing is for sure, the Yankees championship parades will keep on coming but sooner rather than later, much like the lineup from last night, Jeter won’t be here to lead them.

  1. Adam says:

    Great read DP….keep em coming!!! Maybe the gun-shot wound to the leg has something to do with it?!?!?!?! “They’re calling me the Yankee-clipper!!!” (Marky-mark)

  2. Tim says:

    Well written. Agreed whole-heartedly….

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