Wednesday, February 12, 2014
THERE'S NO ONE BETTER THAN DEREK JETER
Derek Jeter didn't die. If he did, that would be a tragedy. When news broke today about Derek Sanderson Jeter retiring after the 2014 season, it almost had a "Where were you when JFK died?" feel. Why? I mean, we all saw this coming, didn't we? Am I the only one NOT surprised? Jeet is going to be 40 this year, he's old... and when I say old, I mean, younger than me. The point is, Derek Jeter has played the game smarter and harder and with more guts than thousands of players out there before him... and he did it with class... not with ego and not by being conceded.
Jeter has led his team to 5 championships, he's no slouch. Sure, you can tell me that his fielding has declined over the years, and sure, maybe he lost a step, but how about you try doing it for 162 games a season for 19 years. People get older, people get slower and people, be it my father, the mailman or even Derek Jeter, need to realize that sometimes they can't give it all in their profession anymore. That's what retirement is for. It's not because they don't want to. It's because they just can't perform the same any longer. It's not the end though... for Jeter... it's the beginning.
"The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour" has been announced... and while no one used that title or has made it official, it's clear that that is what is happening right now. Let's not forget that we have a full season of Derek Jeter baseball to look forward to. We'll also have a playoff and a World Series to win. That's what you say if you believe we can! And why not? Why not make our goal to win it all this year, the year of Derek Jeter? After all, it seems like everything the Captain has done all these years turns to gold anyway, right?. Is it so far fetched? He was the Rookie of the Year in 1996 and that started it all.
5 World Championships. The MVP of the 2000 World Series. He's a 13 time All-Star and he a gold-glover and he's a member of the 3000 hit club and he's done it with class every step of the way. Anyone who knows him loves him. Everyone who's seen him play wants to be him. Even today, ironically, on a day that we released our interview with Clay Rapada, (Read EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CLAY RAPADA), even Clay said of Jeet: "He will go down as one of my top favorite teammates."
The point is, this is a celebration right now. It's a celebration of a great man who has given his heart and soul to this club. Homegrown, dedicated and worshipped by us all. He is the definition of what a Yankee is, and once he retires, he'll go to Cooperstown, with no issues or argument, because he is a true professional who respects the game.
That's right, it's a celebration, not a tragedy and we should all applaud this great man for his efforts all these years. We are very lucky to witness greatness like this.
It's funny, I remember when my wife and I started dating and a young man named Jeter was playing with our club. Now, 19 years later, he's finishing his final season with 5 championships under his belt and a whole Yankeeland world around him. If there was ever a role model you wanted your son or daughter to look up to, it's him. I wrote about Derek extensively when we all were anticipating his return last spring. Luckily for me and Bleeding Yankee Blue, USA Today published my story. It was called "THE JETER EFFECT: Is the future Hall of Famer a case study in loyalty marketing?"
In it, I wrote the following:
"I think about the way Jeter carries himself on and off the field. He’s a role model to my children—probably yours, too. I think about the way he understands what it means to be a Yankee: The responsibility to be better than the average ballplayer—on and off the field. Why, you ask? Well the answer is simple: He wears the pinstripes; he has to be better. And that’s why we love him. He’s been loyal to us, and we’re loyal to him."
It comes down to loyalty, doesn't it? It comes down to respect. Respect the game, it respects you. Respect the fans, the fans flock to you. Know your surroundings and appreciate all you have... never take it for granted. One thing I know about Derek is this; he gets it. There have been many ballplayers before him and after him that have worn pinstripes in the Bronx, but Derek gets it and it's natural to him...more than the others.
I have always had favorites and people that I've admired. It's funny, but my heroes are usually athletes. Of course, my parents are pretty incredible people too and I appreciate how they taught me about drive and character. But I was a fan of John Elway, Rickey Henderson, Ron Guidry and Jorge Posada as well. They played their game hard every day and never took no for an answer. That in turn allowed me to see the world bigger. Baseball and life are parallel and if you treat life as baseball, you can solve problems, work hard, prove your worth and even enjoy it once in a while. With the drive and determination I learned, these people in my life became great leaders and role models. And then there's Derek Jeter...
"He’s a true leader—a captain in every sense of the word. As we move forward together as fans of Yankees—fans of baseball in general—we should cherish every at bat, every tip of the cap, because he’s rewarded us so much. Not because he has to, but because he wants to."
Celebrate 2014 ladies and gentlemen... It's going to be amazing....
Let's Go Yankees!
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