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Don't Hate, Appreciate Jeter

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Now that the Yankees are out of the playoff race, tonight is Derek Jeter’s final home game.

Don't Hate, Appreciate Jeter

Yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the New York Yankees 9-5, officially eliminating the Yankees from playoff contention this season. That loss meant that shortstop Derek Jeter would not be returning to the postseason or to Yankee Stadium for any playoff games, and that his final home game in his storied career will be tonight. This fact is even in jeopardy as New York is currently getting pelted with rain that doesn't look like it will let up

But either way, we now know that Derek Jeter's career will end in the next four days. That's welcoming news for a growing portion of the population that are growing tired of the adulation and attention that Jeter is receiving during his last season in pinstripes. Keith Olbermann went on a rant against all of the Jeter love, decrying the notion that Jeter is the greatest Yankee of all-time or even one of the greatest players of all-time. This has opened the floodgates for plenty of anti-Jeter opinion to come out right at the very tail end of his career.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what draws a fan is drawn to Derek Jeter because it's different for everyone: his work ethic, his flare for the dramatic, his consistency (this season excluded), his team-first attitude, his looks, his leadership. As Olbermann pointed out every reason that we shouldn't be celebrating Jeter (his poor defensive numbers, his failure to lead the league or even the Yankees in many relevant offensive categories, no MVPs, his terrible 2014 season, etc), it seemed that he was failing to acknowledge just how great Jeter had been during his whole career and how players like him don't come around very often. 

Obviously, a farewell tour like the one Jeter has had this year doesn't look great when the player being honored is having a poor season. It also seems excessive to continually honor him while the team is in the middle of competing for the playoffs. When Mariano Rivera went through the his own farewell tour last season, it seemed fitting to honor a player that was the greatest ever at his position. Plus, Rivera was still at the top of his game, going out with a 2.11 ERA and 44 saves on the season. Jeter ranks poorly compared to most major league shortstops in most offensive categories, and I won't even bring up defense. 

But Jeter's impact goes beyond the stats. Like most baseball arguments about Jeter, things often switch over to the intangibles. From the day Jeter joined the Yankees, he was an integral presence in the clubhouse. He was a leader that helped his team to five World Series titles and often came through with clutch moments you wouldn't find in the box score, like The Flip Throw. He was a fantastic ambassador for the sport that helped improve its popularity. He's one of a very few players that's escaped any kind of stigma of PED use during the Steroid Era. And he's played the game with a reserved, quiet dignity that fans of all ages can appreciate.

There are certainly plenty of arguments to be made against Jeter. But when a player of his caliber only has four games left in his career, why make them? Let's all just appreciate the short time we have left with Jeter, because we will definitely miss him when he's gone. It will be an emotional night in the Bronx, but at least we'll get to see Jeter in pinstripes one last time. 

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