Adios el capitán

By Media Relations Editor

When Derek Jeter retires at the end of the 2014 season, he will have spent nearly half his life as a Major League Baseball player.

Jeter is leaving America’s pastime as one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, but he will continue to be my favorite baseball player.

Jeter holds a special place in my heart alongside another guy with a similar name—Chicago Bulls point guard and hometown hero Derrick Rose. But I first became familiar with the longtime Yankees shortstop, during the summer of ‘99 when I laced up my first pair of baseball cleats.

Looking back at my fondest sports memories, the events that come to mind are Michael Jordan hitting fade-away jumpers over incompetent defenders and finding out Jeter and I shared both the same position—shortstop—and the logo on our jerseys, the Yankee emblem. I wanted to be little league’s Jeter. It was a match made in baseball heaven.

Jeter’s playing career would far outlast mine, but his actions off the field and his play on it never deterred me from being his fan. The tabloids attempted to dissect his personal life, but to no avail—he is known today as one of the most low-key players in the league.

His stats scream Hall of Fame and support arguments that Jeter is the greatest shortstop ever. Nicknamed “The Captain,” he is the Yankees all-time hits leader, with a total of 3,316, an impressive statistic considering Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra each spent 18 seasons as Yankees.

The 13-time All-Star is also the all-time leader in postseason hits, games played, singles, extra-base hits and runs scored.

Jeter is easily one of baseball’s greatest players, but he has decided to walk away from the sport at a perfect time. He has seen a decline in his health and it is inevitable that his success rate will take a hit as well. Plagued by injuries, he only played 17 games last season because of a broken ankle.

Since his ‘96 Rookie of the Year campaign, Jeter has rarely been a part of an unsuccessful team. That season he helped lead the Yankees to a World Series title with a batting average of .361. The Yankees would win four titles in Jeter’s first five full seasons.

Little more than a decade later, that dynasty has ended: Jeter’s retirement leaves the Yankees at a crossroads. Following the 2014 season, the assumption that the Yankees would compete for a pennant every season will fade away.

Jeter represents winning wholeheartedly, and without him the Yankees are just an expensive team without a determined destination. Anyone who respects the game will miss Jeter.

Listen to Nader Ihmoud Mondays from 7–9 p.m. as he Hosts The Benchwarmers on WCRX 88.1 FM.

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