Today is Derek Jeter’s 40th birthday. I have not done a ton of research into the matter, but based on the columns and tributes I’ve seen coming out of New York, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that Jeter is the first Major League Baseball player in history to turn 40-years-old. That’s a pretty great accomplishment and we should all talk about how classy and winning a strategy turning 40-years-old really is.
But while no baseball player has ever turned 40 before — again, Jeter is simply incomparable — normal people can turn 40 sometimes. Take me, for instance. I’m 40-years-old. And I feel like that’s not the only thing Jeter and I have in common. I mean, we are both single. We both have less hair than we did in the 90s. Neither of us can move to our left that easily. We both have jobs that 40-year-olds don’t usually have and, being honest, if there were younger cheaper people capable of doing what we do better than us just hanging around, we’d probably be sitting on the bench. We’re just lucky to have found ourselves in the right situation at this point in our lives.
But I kid, Derek. He knows I kid. To the extent he cares — and I seriously, seriously doubt he cares one iota — he knows that people like me who like to make jokes about The Captain are really reacting to the Jeter Industrial Complex which has venerated him to the extreme, not to The Captain himself. That, when we stop trying to be snarky and actually allow ourselves a genuine bit of reflection, we know that we have been really damn lucky to see Jeter play these past 20 years. That while one can assign value to him statistically, make judgments about him objectively or simply count the number of championship rings he has won, the more subjective stuff about him — his consistency, his durability, his star power and his dignity in a world where dignity is often hard to find — is something that even people who would love to see the Yankees lose more often than they win can and do appreciate. There are only a handful of careers like Jeter’s in all of baseball history, and people around our age have gotten to see the entire thing, from start to finish.
So happy birthday, my fellow follically-challenged carbon-based life form who no longer sees Minka Kelly (you by choice, me by restraining order). Here’s hoping it’s a good one, in which no loud teenagers congregate around you lawn and in which no one asks you why you make so many weird noises when you sit down or stand up.