Whether you like him or not, Derek Jeter has earned your respect
Author: suzanne barber – sports writer
At the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, the captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, announced his retirement. Cue the multi-million dollar Nike campaign.
Heavy hitters, like Jay-Z and Michael Jordan, tip their hat to show “re2pect” to the Yankee in the commercial that has now generated 8.3 million YouTube views. It’s no surprise that big budget marketing squeezes every last penny out of the franchise player that is Jeter, however, no ad campaign (or franchise) could hope for a perfect ending, and the events that unfolded last Thursday as Jeter took the Yankee Stadium plate for the last time were perfection. The usually stoic city that is New York turned to mush, and the whole world did, in fact, tip the cap.
Jeter has played his entire 20-year career with the Yankees and capped off his reign with a surreal 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The nearly 50,000 fans in attendance screamed and the Yankees mobbed their shortstop after his walk-off single won the game.
To be clear, you don’t have to be a baseball fan, or even a sports fan, to get goose bumps from watching this win. I don’t consider myself much of a baseball fan unless the dugout includes a cooler full of cold beer, but I was glued to the screen as I watched Jeter hover over his shortstop position, head bowed and cap off. It is one of those moments where you realize you are watching a historical moment as it happens. It’s what sports fans dream about and live for.
I wanted to find out what the moment was like for the real Jeter fans out there, though. The ones who have celebrated all five World Series wins, worn number 2 and had respect for Jeter long before Nike had a popular hashtag. Travis Holt, a die-hard fan and fellow shortstop, felt emotional.
“Today marks a terrible tragedy. Baseball will mourn the loss of Derek Jeter playing his last home game in a Yankee uniform” he said.
Not everyone is sold by the comeback, though. As Jeter hugged his teammates in celebration, the internet went crazy, with both positive and negative responses. The doubters think the entire win was staged. An article written by sports writer, Dan Carson, titled “2ham” supports the idea that the too good to be true ending was just that. As Carson notes, one reader on Barstool’s Smitty even went as far as calculating standard deviation, claiming Jeter had a 0.9 per cent chance of hitting Meek’s pitch on Thursday.
“It’s math, and it proves that while the Orioles had all the reason in the world to win Thursday night, they likely colluded with powers unknown to intentionally drop the game. Why else would they throw to a struggling 40-year-old in the trough of his career?” Carson writes.
Agree or disagree, staged or authentic, does it really matter? The Yankees didn’t make the playoffs and the game held little significance, yet it was an unforgettable night. The goose bumps were real, the tributes were real and the Empire State Building did light up with the Yankee pinstripe over a city that loved “The Captain.”