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Derek Jeter’s number retired

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Today was Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium. In his honor they played 2 today. OK, they played 2 because of a Saturday rainout, but it wouldn’t shock me if someone, somewhere argued that it was Mother Nature’s way of showing RE2PECT for the Captain.

The main event, of course, was the pregame ceremony before the nightcap. That’s when the Yankees retired Jeter’s number 2. Here’s video of the unveiling:

Jeter gave a speech as well. Among his comments: “. . . time flies, memories fade, but family is forever. And I’ll be eternally grateful to be part of the Yankee family.” He thanked Yankees fans, “for pushing me, for challenging me, for making me accountable, but more important, for embracing me from day one.” He added, “I got a chance to play for a first class organization and in front of the greatest fans in the history of sports.”

Watch his speech here:

Jeter’s career, quite obviously, needs no detailed summary. You know the legend. The World Series rings for each finger of his hand. The iconic moments. The 3,400+ hits. The fact that he never once played on a team that was sub-.500.

You also know the way he has been and likely always will be discussed by fans. Adored uniformly by Yankees fans. Respected by fans of his opponents, even as he broke their back on a regular basis. Universally acknowledged as an all-time great.

Yet, for various reasons, people have always felt it important to call him “overrated.” That probably says more of our times and the nature of sports discussion these days than anything else, even if there is a core of truth to it. Jeter was among the best to ever play the game. Jeter was, by some, overrated. Those two things are not in conflict, actually. But even if it is technically true that he has been overrated by some, it seems sort of beside the point.

For twenty years, Derek Jeter was baseball. There were better players. There were players who were more important to you or your friends or fans of teams that were not the Yankees. But he was, unofficially, The Face of Baseball from almost the moment he burst onto the scene until the day he retired. Because of the difficulty Major League Baseball has had in promoting its younger stars in this far more fragmented age, he may still be the Face of Baseball, actually. Maybe the last one baseball will ever truly have. Whether or not that matters is an open question, but it wouldn’t necessarily shock me if Derek Jeter is the last baseball player who attains his level of fame and celebrity for a long, long time.

I watched Derek Jeter from the time he was in Triple-A in the town where I went to college until his last game in the majors. I can honestly say there was not a single game in which he played in which I rooted for his team and only a handful of games in which I hoped he’d come through at any given moment. I’m not a Yankees fan and, let’s be honest, Jeter didn’t need me rooting for him.

But I can’t help but think anything this evening other than “Hats off to ya, Jeter. You deserve this day.”

Jeff Wilpon reminds Mets fans that insuring David Wright “is not cheap”

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It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.

What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.

You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.

Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:

I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.

This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.