As you know, I took a hiatus from blogging for the past two seasons (’12-’13), and as a result, I didn’t post my commentary when Derek Jeter announced he was retiring. I was still quite shocked by it, especially how it came on the heels of Mariano Rivera retiring the year before, and Andy Pettitte/Jorge Posada before him. Baseball players get old, not that Jeter is “old”, but he’s old for the job he does, and when they do, they decide to hang up the cleats. I get that. I don’t know if I’d want to push myself through such a physically punishing profession at the age of 40, either.
I watched Derek his whole career. I became a fan in 1994, after someone I went to school with who was from New York turned me on to the Yankees. They hadn’t won anything in a while, and sadly the strike took away any chance they could have had to rectify that before Torre & Co. came along. So ever since he made his official debut in 1996, I’ve been watching. Next to Mo, he was always my favorite Yankee. No one seemed to ever have anything bad to say about him. Even Red Sox fans, who hate anything with an NY on it, call him “Captain Intangibles,” which is the least offensive thing they’ve ever called a Yankee. He never got in trouble with the law, never got in trouble with the league, and in the height of the steroid era, was never even rumored to have been using. He’s the kind of player you wouldn’t mind your kids looking up to as a role model, even though athletes really shouldn’t be considered role models.
So, I’ll miss him. I’m sure that sounds pithy and trite, but it’s true. It’ll be weird watching the Yankees take the field for Spring Training next year, or even Opening Day, and #2 won’t be running out there to take his spot at SS. I don’t know who’ll take his place, but whoever it is…..you have a mighty big uniform to fill.