This is the first Yankee spring training that Derek Jeter hasn't been a part of in over twenty years. There hasn't been too much focus on his absence thanks to the media's obsession with Alex Rodriguez, but Brian Cashman finally brought up Jeter yesterday. In an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike Lupica, Cashman said he believed that "the captaincy should be retired with number two." Should Jeter be the last Yankee captain ever?
Jeter was first named the Yankees captain back in 2003. At the time, the Yankees were in a slump and George Steinbrenner hoped that Jeter's leadership would bring them out of it (they ended up advancing to the World Series, so I guess that did the trick). He held the title until he retired last fall, making him the longest tenured captain in Yankee history. The next closest, according to the Yankees' media guide, was Roger Peckinpaugh from 1914 to 1921. Shortest tenured Yankee captain? Babe Ruth, for about 10 weeks in 1922. In total, there have been 16 confirmed captains in Yankee history, though that number is subject to some debate. When they were first established, the Yankees pretty much always had a designated captain up until 1925. Lou Gehrig was named captain in 1935 and remained so until 1941. Then the Yankees had their longest gap in history, going without a captain all the way until 1976 when Thurman Munson was given the title. It therefore wouldn't be unprecedented for the Yankees to go several years, or even decades, before naming a new captain, but not ever having one again is another matter entirely.
Cashman acknowledged that he isn't the decision-maker when it comes to picking captains, but he said he wouldn't give a captain title to anyone else if it were up to him. "Leadership comes in a lot of forms. It would be a hard one to anoint someone captain regardless of how great they might be." On the one hand, I agree. There will never be another Derek Jeter, and giving someone the "C" is just a title that's mostly meaningless. Just because there isn't an official captain designated doesn't mean that there won't be guys who are leaders in the clubhouse. It's not like the team needs to name someone else captain immediately. On the other hand, saying that there should never be another captain is a bold statement. Forever is a long time. While they shouldn't concern themselves with trying to give someone the title, that doesn't mean that there couldn't be a worthy candidate twenty or so years down the line. Maybe the future captain could pull the 2047 Yankees out of a slump.
Do you think Jeter should be the last captain ever? Does the presence or absence of a captain really impact the team one way or the other? Vote in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments.