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It was bound to happen; it always does. Father Time is the one opponent in sports that is undefeated, and it seems as though it has caught up with one Derek Jeter. Last week, Jeter announced that the upcoming 2014 season would be his last, bringing to an end his legendary career. So let’s get the farewell tour under way.
Jeter announced this through his Facebook page, and it read in part, “Last year was a tough one for me. As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.”
Jeter was the sixth overall pick for the New York Yankees in the 1992 draft and played four seasons of minor-league ball before getting his big-league opportunity, an opportunity that almost didn’t happen. While not convinced he was ready to be the everyday shortstop, controversial Yankee owner George Steinbrenner actually OK’d a trade for another shortstop that would’ve sent Mariano Rivera to the Mariners. That’s right — the great Mariano Rivera could have been a Mariner.
I bet all Yankee fans are glad that isn’t what happened, as other members of management convinced Steinbrenner that the skinny kid from Kalamazoo, Mich., should get a chance.
He definitely made the most of that opportunity by winning the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996, and helped lead the Yankees to their first World Series title since 1978.
His entire career has been overflowing with winning. He has won five World Series and has played in two others. Many of this will be attributed to the great teams he has played on, but his ability to come through in the big games has been unrivaled by any other player on any of his great teams.
That’s why he has the nickname “Mr. November.” Jeter holds MLB postseason records for most hits, most games played and most runs scored.
To Jeter, awards and accolades are almost as familiar as winning is. Along with the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, Jeter won the 2000 All-Star and World Series MVPs, made 13 All-Star appearances, won five Silver Slugger awards, five Gold Gloves, and only eight players in baseball history have more hits than Derek Jeter.
Even with all the winning and the numerous awards, Jeter’s off-field accomplishments cannot be overlooked. His dating history is something that needs its own Hall of Fame and has courted the likes of Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Minka Kelly and supermodel Adriana Lima. He has dated these famous females and somehow been able to maintain a relatively private life — in New York, no less, the largest media market in the country.
He has not only been the face of the Yankees for much of the last 20 years, but I would say he has been the face of baseball. At least, the face baseball wanted as its representative. Jeter has stayed out of any controversy during an era that has had its share of bad publicity.
He might not be the best baseball player ever, but he is undoubtedly one of the greats. There are plenty of fans who despise the Yankees, and many of these respect or even like Derek Jeter. That is because of the type of ball player he is. He has always played the game right.
Baseball will be fine without Jeter, and Jeter will be fine without baseball, but let’s not forget what the two were together — awesome.