After Derek Jeter announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the 2014 season, I saw a tweet from the Atlanta Braves asking if Freddie Freeman is the face of baseball, the implication being that Jeter was that face and the position will be void once he finishes this season.
There's another way to look at that issue: There is no face of baseball. Here's what I mean. My 16-year-old nephew grew up in Florida. He's a huge NBA fan. His favorite player? Kevin Durant. His team? The Thunder. In basketball, a big star belongs to everybody, not just the fans of the team he plays for.
But Jeter? He belongs to Yankees fans. Nobody in Boston or Tampa or Baltimore would dare call Jeter his favorite player. Opposing fans may respect him and appreciate his accomplishments, but their favorite player? It doesn't work that way. A's fans aren't wearing Mike Trout jerseys. Cardinals fans aren't wearing Andrew McCutchen T-shirts. Jeter is the face of the New York Yankees, not of baseball.
So Jeter's retirement means more to Yankees fans than anybody else. A couple of pieces to check out from the website It's About the Money. Stacey Gotsulias writes:
We will have one last season to see him put his right hand up as he steps into the batter’s box, we will have one more season to watch as he leads his team out of the dugout to take the field, we will have one last season of hearing a recording of Bob Sheppard announce his name. We will have one more season to say goodbye to Derek Jeter and don’t worry, it’s okay to be sad about it because the friend we never met but grew up with, is leaving us.
Again, so it’s not that Jeter is going to retire, it’s that it officially ends that nebulous and tumultuous time called post-adolescence. Jeter and I are entering that other phase, no not “middle age” dammit, the one before it, whatever it’s called. That point in one’s life when you still think you can do everything your mind tells you to do but the body is a little less than willing. Eh, it happens and when the realization hits, it’s sad. Not sad in that a period of life is over because, hopefully, like me, you have so many reasons to be happy with what’s in front of you and what’s also ahead of you, also knowing what’s behind you was pretty darned neat, too. Just the passage of time and the end of that awesome phase of your life.
Well said. I'm not a Yankees fan, but like most of us, I respect Jeter and tip my cap to one of the greats. Just don't expect me to wear his jersey.