When news broke on Wednesday of Jeter’s eventual plans to retire after the 2014 season it was easy to understand why, but still hard to fully comprehend.
No matter which team you hold an allegiance to there should always be some semblance of respect for Derek Jeter and what he represents. His soon departure from the Majors is the end of an era in Baseball, and with it comes a huge gap which will have to be filled by whichever brave young face dares to stand in his enormous shadow.
This is not just a Yankee lost–this is a grave loss for the world of sports as a whole, a true class act is leaving and there’s no replacement in sight. With soon to be 19 years under his belt, the ‘jeterian’ way of conduct proved to be such a contrast to the way most athletes approached their respective sports. Playing hard on the field, staying out of trouble and coming up in the clutch defined Derek and his approach to the sport.
MLB’s proverbial age of innocence, too, departs when Jeter hangs up his cleats. In an age marred by performance enhancement drug usage and the aftermath, Jeter as usual stood out from the pack and did things the clean way, the right way. The scourge of the sport will hang even more prominent as a constant reminder once Jeter is gone. So Baseball is already tasked with the burden of finding a replacement for the iconic player. At a time where ratings are down, and the Yankees miss post seasons what is the status for the future of sport?
Baseball needs a Derek Jeter type to help lift the game and shift the focus back to the field. His exit will bring forth a list of already possible candidates–but until they can deliver like Mr. November there will be no definitive replacement. And so a legend is lost, though he will play on this season reality is setting in quick.
No place will this void be more noticeable than the in Bronx where the Yankees have been forced to adjust faster than they had anticipated. Still off the heels of Marino Rivera’s departure, Jeter announced his retirement plans in a similar fashion. Yes, there will be throngs of screaming fans to say their final goodbyes on the ‘farewell tours’ and yes, Jeter will of course downplay the matter and keep all things professional–but the impact is still there, the scar is still visible. Can the Yankees survive post Jeter? Can MLB survive post Jeter?
Did Derek Jeter save the sport of Baseball? That’s one hell of a statement, and certainly there can be many debates as to the depth in which he ‘saved’ the sport. One thing that is certain is the popularity Jeter brought to the game. I didn’t write this article with the intent to wax poetically about Jeter’s candidness and his urbane nature, but it must be stated. Jeter’s ‘quiet swag’ transended his personality and became how he played in general. His post season heroics are legendary, and his accomplishments–many. There will never be another like him.
So as we begin to say our adieu’s to Mr. Jeter, we have to make it official–say goodbye to the Baseball you once knew. While it may not be literally going away, surely apart of the soul of the sport is leaving. Welcome to today’s new age, the legends of ‘yesteryear’ have gone away, and if you’re a Yankees fan, the core has gone off to pasture. This is our last goodbye.
The end of the era will be bittersweet, Baseball’s most iconic franchise is losing their face and Captain so expect the reconstruction era to unfold in the Bronx as the rest of the League labors on. The longevity of Baseball in today’s age will be proven on who becomes the next iconic face to resurrect the sport–many have come and many have gone, but baseball always finds a way to surprise us.
While we will never see another Derek Jeter, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the next face of baseball should be unique and be tailor made to fit this generation–perhaps the sport needs a brash rebellious type like a Yasiel Puig. Or maybe the sport needs a kid who hits like a man and gives sabermetrics geeks a reason to live like a Mike Trout. Or maybe, the sport needs a throwback ace who gets the job done like a Clayton Kershaw. The crop to select from are bountiful, even if no one will eclipse Derek Jeter.