Wednesday, February 12, 2014

End of an era: 2014 to be Derek Jeter's final season


If you haven't heard yet, Derek Jeter, longtime shortstop for the New York Yankees, officially announced today that he will retire from professional baseball at the end of the 2014 season. Am I surprised? Not really. Jeter will turn 40 years old this June, which is an old man in baseball years. He was plagued by injuries last season. All his cohorts from the 1990s-2000s championship era have retired. He's devoted almost 20 years to the game, to his team, and to his fans. I completely understand. After Mariano Rivera retired last season, I had a feeling this year would be Jeter's last.

I understand, but does that mean I'm happy? I'm happy for him, yes; now he can do the other things in his life that he wants to do. He can focus on himself and what he wants, not what the Steinbrenners want, not what the fans of New York want. But I'm sad for me. I love Jeter. I grew up with him - I started watching the Yankees as a way to stay connected to home when I was in college in Washington, D.C. in the late 1990s, when Jeter was fresh blood and the Yankees were amazing. I've been a fan of the team and even moreso of him ever since. When he leaves, the old guard will be gone...which in a way, might be exactly what the Yankees need. A fresh start. A chance to rebuild. A time to let new fresh blood become a part of history. (Hint, hint, Yankees management - can we cool it on the aging, fading former superstars? Let's take a few years to rebuild with some young, fresh, homegrown talent and do Jeter and his predecessors proud!)

So yeah, I love Jeter. He's an amazing ball player. And he seems to be a class act. In New York, it's tough to know when to stay out of the limelight, know when to speak up and what to say. It's easy to piss your fans off but so easy to win them back over again. He never courted controversy or the headlines; he always seemed to show good sportsmanship both on and off the field; he seemed to love to play the game; and he seemed to love his fans.

I will always count myself lucky that I got to see Jeter play in person at Yankee Stadium. I wasn't able to get to any games last year but this being Jeter's last, I'll have to make sure to make it to at least one more game. Just to say goodbye. :)

Thanks, Derek, for playing the game right, representing your team right, bringing us so many World Series championships but always staying humble, and for loving your fans right. Best of luck to you in this upcoming season, and with whatever you choose to do with your future.

Love, a Jeter fan girl, always and forever

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