There's a lot of negative things waiting to be said about the Derek Jeter Retirement Tour.
Mo set a bad precedent last year with his farewell tour; I have no interest in the David Ortiz Tour or the Mark Buehrle Tour or (help us) the A-Rod Tour. Jeter has received too much playing time, too many marquee ABs at the top of the lineup, too many pasta dives that have cost games. The goodbye commercials are maudlin on their own, and paired with the tour, it's all just uninterestingly boorish.
But I'm making myself feel glad we're having it.
Joe DiMaggio quit rather than fight for another contract from the Yankees, who had found a center fielder from Oklahoma to replace him with. DiMaggio's pride was stung when the Dodgers leaked a scouting report after the '51 series, saying he was washed up.
"He can't stop quickly and throw hard. You can take the extra base on him. . . ."He can't run and won't bunt. . . . "His reflexes are very slow, and he can't pull a good fastball at all."
For DiMaggio, who hated how he (and other players of the Reserve Clause era) had to beg and posture to get what he considered a fair contract, it was the last straw.
Phil Rizzuto was cruelly cut in August as the Yankees cruised to their 7th pennant in 8 seasons. Management called Rizzuto into the office on Old Timers' Day, to let him know they'd claimed Enos Slaughter off waivers, and they asked him who should be cut to make room. One by one, Rizzuto went through the players on the roster, until finally he realized that he was expendable piece. It seems to me a move meant simply to be castigating and tyrannical. I find it hard to believe that Rizzuto ever spoke well of the Yankees again.
Babe Ruth was a Boston Brave and Elston Howard was a Boston Red Sox. Ruth campaigned too publically for the manager's job as his career wound down with the Yankees and he was cut. He was lured to the Braves by a promise to transition into a front office role, but the responsibilities to match the title never materialized.
Howard wasted much of his prime on the bench and in the minor leagues because of military service and then George Weiss' racism. As the Yankees crumbled in the late '60s, Howard still found a chance to shine in the World Series matchup between the Sox and Roger Maris' Cardinals.
Yogi Berra and Willie Randolph were New York Mets. Berra was fired despite taking the Yankees to the World Series, before Casey Stengel talked him into a brief return as a player-manager. Randolph was allowed to leave as a free agent despite always being near the top of the league in OBP.
For the sake of my childhood and my sense of loyalty, I'm enjoying these last few days watching Derek Jeter turn back the clock. Because there are very few players who mean enough to franchise to be allowed this luxury.