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Musings about Jeter and his final season

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Thanks Captain for everything, this season may have been ugly but from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the memories.

Al Bello

Looking back on the 2014, more specifically the Derek Jeter retirement tour, I can honestly say that for the most part I did not feel anything.  When the Captain made his pre-season press conference to announce that this season would be his last, I felt nothing.  Throughout the tour, through every opposing park, the entire spectacle came off like a forced obligation than as a heartfelt conclusion.  There were some amazing gifts; the three-night stay at a castle as well as the number two-score tile from Wrigley Field being just two. Overall, the entire thing rang hollow.

Derek Jeter’s play did nothing to positively influence.  At 40 years of age, coming off last season with a new, surgically repaired ankle complete with a titanium plate, I never expected Jeter to play to the back of his baseball card.  I did, however, expect more than a 72 wRC+ and .255/.302/.312 triple slash line.  While I understood his defense was not going to be even average, watching so many balls roll a few steps away from shortstop go for hits while Jeter flops helplessly in an attempt was beyond maddening. This does not even include the numerous double plays or the weak dribblers that he hit into.  Numerous times throughout the year, the prevailing thought in my mind during games were counting down the days until he retired, as I had grown so weary of seeing such a great player struggle through his final season.

Not until Thursday morning did the gravity of what I was going to experience that night sink in: Derek Jeter’s last game in Yankee Stadium.  The suddenness in which the excitement and regret struck me was astounding.  For most of the year, I lamented a player as he struggled to the finish line but now that we were at the endgame of an all-time great, someone that I and so many others grew up watching, perspective sets in.  This is the end of the dynasty; the last remnants of those teams will soon be gone all that will be left are hyperbolic legends to regale future generations with.

As the Yankees took the field to a sold out crowd, one that was louder and wilder than I have ever heard them in the new park, my heart started pounding in my chest from the excitement.  Although the Yankees had already been eliminated, this night felt like Game Seven of a World Series.  There are a lot of negative things that I can say about the Yankee fanbase – we are a spoiled, arrogant consistently ungrateful lot – but watching as people all over the stadium tossed their hats onto the field while loudly bellowing the retiring, teary-eyed Captain’s name was one of the proudest moments I have ever felt towards this fanbase.

Everyone who watches baseball has a Derek Jeter moment or story that resonates with them.  It may be the dive, the flip play, the "Mr. November" homer, the 3,000th hit, or countless others.  The Yankee Captain’s almost super-natural flair for the cliché movie moment is something that I will remember most as his career closes.  2014 may not have gone like anyone wanted with the Captain putting up the worst year of his extensive career, but this was just a small blip on a journey that I was proud to witness.

Derek Jeter Tribute (farewell) (via john saggese)