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Monday, December 16, 2013

WHAT WOULD DEREK JETER DO?


I've had a tough time coming to terms with Robinson Cano moving to Seattle. He was my favorite current player on the team. I have watched him since he played with the Staten Island Yankees. Considering I am absolutely terrified of that Staten Island ferry, it is kind of a big deal that I would go to that ball park just to see one player. Especially since I lived in Brooklyn at the time, only a few short train stops from Coney Island, and have never visited the Cyclones. So this signing, and everything that led up to it? It felt like I was back-stabbed. I know, it's ridiculous, but it's how I feel. Or how I have felt up until today. The change came when my daughter, a sassy eight year old who has no problem telling like it is, came to me, Cano t-shirt in hand, and asked that I return it, throw it away or burn it. And then requested a Derek Jeter jersey instead. "Because at least he understands about respect."


My daughter is a Girl Scout. She takes her scouting very seriously. Part of the Girl Scout law says that scouts will be responsible for their words and actions, and respect themselves, others, and authority. My daughter makes that part of her life. Of course, like any eight year old, she has her moments when she slips. But you only have to remind her of the law, and she will offer her apologies and quickly correct her behavior. I like that. Not just in my child, but in everyone. It's important for people to take personal responsibility for their actions or in-actions. And Casey discussed the importance of respect when he wrote THE MOST HATED MAN IN THE BRONX. Bottom line, own up to your actions, and you will be shown respect for it.

Jeter has been the Captain of this team for some time now. It funny to think of all the people that were skeptical in 1996, when he became the first rookie to start at shortstop since 1962. George Steinbrenner was not at all on board with Joe Torre's plan. He never really had much faith in younger players. Jeter hit his first major league home run on opening day that season. We didn't know it then, but he made a clear statement that game. "I am a Yankee. I will create my legacy here!" He would continue to do so for the entirety of his career.

I've spent days mulling over this Cano ordeal. It seems like I am beating a dead horse, but it really bothers me. Cano was homegrown, like Jeter. He and Jeter had a friendship, and their chemistry on the field was nearly symbiotic. They were excellent teammates, and it seemed like Cano was being groomed to take over the leadership role when Jeter hangs up his pinstripes for good. It was only three years ago when it was Jeter in the hot seat over his contract. Then, much like with Cano, Yankees fans were divided. Some wanted the Yankees to shower him with money to keep him, while other believed he should take the hometown discount. Unlike with Cano, it worked out in the Yankees best interest.


Jeter has made it clear that he understands that baseball is a business first. It is a game to us, and as fans we get caught up in legacies, and rivalries. The guys on the field don't give a flying donkey foot about any of that. They are friends and colleagues. They are after the sports accolades to add to their resumes. And ultimately, to get their pay day. But every so often there is also that one player that also gives a damn about the history, and the legacy. Sure, Jeter can say that he understands, but his actions speak volumes.

Jeter has led this team from his rookie year. I still remember Prince Fielder being up at bat, and Jeter getting caught stealing. Torre was so angry, he didn't even make eye contact. Any other rookie would have walked away. Not Jeter. He walked right up to his manager, took responsibility for his actions, and gained respect. What other short stop would have made the play at home plate with Jorge Posada? Who else would have gone head first into the stands for the sake of the out? Jeter has put blood, sweat and tears into his legacy. Into his uniform. Into this team. When 3000 came around, he hit a home run, in classic Jeter fashion. Much like he did during that home opener in 1996. It was a statement, loud and clear. He respects the game, he respects the fans, and he respects the team. We get it, and we return that respect in triplicate, and adore him.


Ultimately, that became the major difference between Jeter and Cano. Jeter gives 150% to the team, and Cano couldn't even give 10% to running down the first base line. Sure it's a business. Cano chose money over baseball accolades, achievements, championships, and a legacy. He attempted to hold the organization ransom for an absurd contract, and then threw the equivalent of a hissy fit at his press conference, and complain about respect. I guess, good for him. But in the same situation, would Jeter do the same? I think not! Not the rookie who faced his manager when he messed up, or the player that stood in the batters box and sent a homer into the stands as he notched off his 3,000 hit. Because Jeter understand what my eight year old does. You take responsibility for your actions, and you show respect where it is due. And that jersey? Santa has his elves busy on that.


Jeter is a leader. He is a legend. Cano may be the new hero in Seattle, but remember what we have learned from the great film "The Sandlot."

"Heroes get remembered. Legends never die." 




--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @e_morales1804


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