I’ve got no problem admitting I can be a little brainwashed when it comes to the Yankees, especially Derek Jeter. But there are just certain aspects of his career that can not be replicated. He may never have been then most talented player the Yankees had when I was growing up (that was probably A-Rod for most years) and despite his dependability, probably wasn’t even the most consistent (Mariano Rivera was), but no athlete will ever be able to crush life the way Jeter did.
For 19 seasons, he was the starting shortstop for the most famous franchise in sports. His Hall-of-Fame career aligned perfectly with the rise of the internet and social media, allowing fans to be more connected to their favorite athletes than ever before. How one man can play that long in as prominent a role as he had in New York City and never have one blemish on his public image is astounding. Look at the other star athletes to play in New York recently. Odell Beckham jr. partying on a yacht in Miami days before the Giants traveled to Green Bay for a playoff game, Carmelo Anthony going through a nasty split with his wife LaLa, and basically anything A-Rod did between the years 2004 and 2009. While a lot of these things should be considered insignificant to the team’s performances (who gives a shit if 20-something pro athletes want to have a good time in Miami on an off-day), they ultimately matter. They bring unwanted attention to your franchise, they increase the pressure to win. If the Giants win that game, or Odell had 10 catches for 150 yards in a loss, the yacht story is all but dead. Instead, he catches 4 balls for 28 yards with 3 drops as the Giants get crushed. Did this have anything to do with him partying on a yacht 5 days earlier? Anyone with half a brain would probably say no, but the public perception of Odell is now that he’s a partier who isn’t serious about winning.
The perfect, most recent example of why we’ll never see another Jeter is Matt Harvey. Here’s a guy who was absolutely electric when he came up with the Mets a few years ago, and looked to be the next big baseball star in New York. He even said in 2013 of Jeter, “That guy is the model. I mean, first off, let’s just look at the women he’s dated. Obviously, he goes out – he’s meeting these girls somewhere – but you never hear about it. That’s where I want to be.” Clearly, that is not where he is, after the Mets suspended him 3 games for failing to show up to a game after a night of partying at 1OAK. What’s worse, he was reportedly there because he was upset that his ex, Adriana Lima, was seen out with the Patriots’ Julian Edelman. Could you imagine Derek Jeter missing a game because some girl he used to date was with another dude? Barstool Sports’ Kevin Clancy said it best last week, “Jeter didn’t chase pussy, pussy chased Jeter.”
Of course I miss watching Jeter play every day. He was one of the best shortstops in the game for his entire career, and he hustled like he was a September call-up trying to earn his spot rather than the perennial All-Star that he was. But the Yankees are just fine without him. Didi Gregorious is a pleasure to watch play shortstop every day, and Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge seem to be two of the biggest rising stars in baseball. But no one will ever crush life the way Derek Jeter did. Growing up with a Mariah Carey poster on your wall, only to eventually date and then dump her? Dating Minka Kelly for years, only to dump her, too? Marrying Hannah Davis? Derek Jeter is and always will be the definition of “this guy fucks.” No matter what team you support, that is surely something we can all RE2PECT.