End Of The Jeter Era

Derek_Jeter_RE2PECT_28490-630x450The Yankees season will end this Sunday with a meaningless game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Neither team will be playing in the playoffs. More importantly the end of the regular season brings to a close the career of an all-time baseball great, Yankees shortstop and Captain #2 Derek Jeter.

Arguably among the best shortstops of all time, Jeter will be a certain Hall of Famer in 5 years. Prior to this season he announced that this season would be his last, and alas it is ending in a disappointing way. He did not embarrass himself as others have in their final year, though his skills have diminshed and his batting average will be a career low. Obviously, there is no shame in having a 20 year career ending with the 6th most hits of any Major League player ever.

Jeter has been the Yankees Captain and he has also been a critical part of a great era in Yankees baseball since 1995. It has been an era with 17 playoff appearances and 5 World Championships in 20 years. Alas the last 2 years, while still winning seasons, were not great Yankee teams and were 2 of the 3 non-playoff teams during this 20 year stretch.

The Yankees were fortunate that 4 Yankee greats—Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada—all came to the Yankees in the mid-90s and along with other talent throughout the years helped lead the team to 20 consecutive winning seasons. That’s an incredible feat in professional sports.

Jeter had always been the consummate professional, always doing and saying the right thing. He’s never been one to complain, even if warranted. He has never showboated, or criticized others in the media. He always speaks about the team and winning, never about individual accomplishment. He always hustled, played well, played the game the “right way”, and was proud to be a Yankee and never missed an opportunity to say so. His season-long “going away party” has been a bit much and the presents, ceremonies, etc. were at times a bit over the top, even for me.

But the recognition and praise he has received all season long from fans across baseball was genuine and well deserved. However, as with all the greats before him and greats to come, they all grudgingly recognize that by their later 30s that reflexes slow, hitting becomes harder, and skills erode. Father Time is cruel to athletes. Fortunately, Father Time is less cruel to us marketing consultants, as we become wiser with age and write blogs.

I’ve been fortunate to have seen Jeter play in person 200+ times during the past 20 years, most often with our daughter Carolyn whose knowledge of baseball in general, and Yankees baseball specifically, is second to none. Jeter’s retirement is an end of an era for her as well. As she recently wrote:

This man means way more to me than just baseball. He’s made the last 20 years of my life full of joy and pride that has shaped my character and my career decisions. Thank you #2, my captain, my hero.

I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to see Jeter (and Mo, Jorge and Andy) play so often during the last 20 years, just as I was happy to have seen Yankee greats Mattingly, Munson and Mantle and others in years past. But I also look forward to seeing future Yankees stars and seeing future Championships. There’s nothing like a home grown Yankees star. A sprinkling of free agents are also welcome (particularly Trout and Stanton in the future) but it’s wonderful to see Yankee stars rise, succeed and have full careers in Yankees Pinstripes. We need more of them in the future.

Epilog: The season is now over. It’s painful to realize Jeter is now gone. There was no i in Jeter. But there’s a “Big I” in Rodriguez. The A Rod circus will be back in town next year. Oye vey.

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  1. John Most says:


    I share your love of Jeter, this generations Mickey Mantle. At least for Yankee fans.

    I heard another amazing stat. In his final game at Boston…Derek was playing in only his 5th game in his career that the game was “meaningless:, e.g. the Yankees were out of contention and mathematically eliminated from post season play. Not sure what that list would look like, but I gotta believe he would have been in the top 5 there too.

    Great blog entries as always. Thanks

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