No, this is not a humor post and no I am not mocking someone for having an overblown Jeter take. That is actually the headline to a wonderful and touching story from Elizabeth Taddonio at The Hairpin about how Derek Jeter and the mid-90s Yankees meant so much to her family which, at the time, was falling apart:
The years of 1995 and 1996 were some of the worst times of my life. My mother was erratic and verbally abusive. She was hiding liquor from my dad. At one of her lowest points she hid a bottle of SKOL vodka in my Barbie bin, on the top shelf of my closet. When I went to get it down the bottle hit me in the head and I saw stars. I didn’t tell her; I hid it and gave it to my dad when he got home. I was 10 years old.
But the seasons changed again, and in spring of 1996 this beautiful 22-year-old kid was finally playing for the Yankees. I remember that season: how I felt about the Braves. I remember how excited we were during playoffs and how we ordered pizza and I stayed up way too late and we were just so happy in my house.
Baseball isn’t as important as real life. Not by damn sight. But it can be a shelter from the storm of the real world and the good memories one associates with it can go a long way toward alleviating some of the pain that real life dealt you at the same time.
[ RELATED: Derek Jeter’s career, in photos ]
The biggest thing to realize about Derek Jeter — or any other meaningful ballplayer — leaving the stage is that it matters not one bit what the reporters and commentators say about it. Whether the backlash or the backlash to the backlash is more salient at any given moment. What matters is what he meant to the fans who rooted for him and enjoyed his career. What the baseball games he played meant to them.
From a Time Magazine story called “Baseball’s Derek Jeter Problem”
The Derek Jeter problem extends to all of baseball. Despite his shaky last-season performance, Jeter is still the most familiar, marketable, beloved player in the game. And right now, the sport has no one to replace him . . . According to Q Scores Company, among active athletes recognized by more than half the U.S. population, Jeter owns the second-highest “Q score” – a general favorability rating – trailing only Peyton Manning. The bad news: no other baseball player ranks in the top 15. “Baseball players aren’t even on the national radar for the general population,” says Henry Schafer, an executive vice president at Q Scores. “They’re just not out there like players from other sports.”
I would like to see local Q scores. I would also like to see what these scores said about baseball players in the mid-90s, when Derek Jeter made his debut. I suppose they all worried who would take Cal Ripken’s place as the Face of the Game when he retired.
[ RELATED: Derek Jeter’s career, in photos ]
While Derek Jeter has sucked up all of the farewell air, there is another legendary player — at least locally legendary — retiring after the final game is played on Sunday. Paul Konerko is saying goodbye after a magnificent 18-year career, sixteen of which were played for the White Sox.
Konerko played over 2,300 career games and posted a career line of .279/.354/.487 with 439 homers and 1412 RBI. He was a six-time All-Star, the 2005 ALCS MVP and led the White Sox to the World Series title that year, ending a drought that lasted longer than the much more famous Red Sox title drought. Of course, because Konerko never played in New York or Boston he never got the kind of supporting cast those teams could perpetually afford during his playing career and never got the same amount of hype.
But to a Chicago White Sox fan, Paul Konerko was just as important as Derek Jeter was to a Yankees fan. And even if he’s not getting the same kind of sendoff, he will be just as missed by the people who cheered for him.
Here he says goodbye to his fans. On Sunday, at home against the Royals, he will say it in person.
Jimmy Rollins wasn’t fantastic this season, but he did have a bounceback year of sorts while playing some solid defense. He enters 2015 in the last year of his contract and Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with him about his and the Phillies’ future. With respect to the team, Rollins thinks they can and should compete:
The man who helped propel the Phillies into a winner – first with his “team to beat” declaration, then with an MVP season to back it up – thinks the front office will continue to do what’s necessary to turn their fortunes around.
“We have enough money to,” Rollins said. “So you can’t say we don’t have the money to make improvements in the places that need to be improved, or where they can make them, whichever is the priority. We’re in a big market. A big-market payroll. So you have to go out there and make it happen.”
I wouldn’t read that as Rollins misreading the Phillies’ competitive chances. I would read it as a challenge of sorts to the front office to fix what’s broken and do what it can to reload with him, Cole Hamels and the rest of the old crew intact. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, but there aren’t a ton of good options for Philly right now and, clearly, something has to change.
David Wright was shut down for the season on September 9 with inflammation in his left shoulder. Turns out it’s worse than inflammation: an MRI taken this week on the shoulder showed ligament damage. He’s on a strengthening program that is supposed to last six weeks. If that doesn’t work, he could have to have surgery.
Marc Carig of Newsday has an article today about why, if Wright has been ailing for a long time, he just had the MRI this week. And wondering if, perhaps, he and the Mets waited too long to do that.