Father Time is finally throwing Jeter some serious chin music, snapping his ankle in October, and then taunting him back to practice before chipping it again. But Jeter is the Bernard Hopkins of baseball, swinging until he’s literally carted off. The Yankees surely hope he makes that decision before they have to.
“Jeter’s not a quitter!” you bark.
Retiring after 17 resplendent seasons isn’t quitting. It’s logical. Find one shortstop in the modern era who produced at 39. Cal Ripken switched to third base at 35. Ernie Banks switched positions at 30. Even Ozzie Smith, better in the field than all three combined, was a part-time player at 39. Jeter will be 39 the next time he swings at a live pitch.
...Of course, the question is academic, as Jeter will play sometime this year. But perhaps how he plays determines what he does next year. Does he want to be nudged north, toward the outfield? What happens the next time he tries his stabbing pirouette and can’t find first base?
The question is only offensive because you love Derek Jeter. If you’re under 30, he is all you’ve known, the dynastic emblem of your youth. But just as kids once wondered who would replace Ruth found Gehrig, and then DiMaggio, and then Mantle. I was reared on Reggie Jackson and then Don Mattingly. And then we were blessed with the Joe Torre juggernaut – a buffet of baseball character and characters who nursed a new generation of fans.
Someone will replace Derek Jeter, and do with with equal aplomb, even if it seems and sounds blasphemous to say today.
Posted: May 10, 2013 at 04:32 PM | 50 comment(s)
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