(Long Island, N.Y.) All good things must come to an end. Nothing lasts forever in this world, even if you’re the captain and face of the most recognized franchise in sports history. It happened to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, so Derek Jeter is far from immune.
No matter how long your dominating days in pinstripes last, there will come a time when they are nearing the end. Perhaps the signals began in the offseason when general manager Brian Cashman didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for Jeter when he was seeking a new contract. Sure, the deal got done and he was never serious about leaving town, but Jeter’s ego may have taken a hit by what may have been construed as second class treatment for the media darling of Gotham.
There has been talk of Jeter perhaps moving to another position, even the outfield, in a year or so as his body slows down and makes the all-important position of shortstop a challenge. If Cal Ripken was moved, then anyone can.
But Jeter just shrugs all of this off and shows up at the ballpark. He did just that on Mother’s Day in Texas and blasted his first two home runs of the season. “The first one is always the hardest one to get,” Jeter said to reporters. “It seems that way. First home run. First hit. First everything. It feels good to get one, but I don’t sit around thinking about home runs.”
Totaling four hits on the day, Jeter led the Bronx Bombers back from a 4-0 deficit and now only needs 40 hits to reach 3,000. It’s not as if he needs any more accomplishments, but that number is usually one that is an automatic ticket punch to Cooperstown. Back to the present, Jeter’s batting average is up to .276 following an 11-for-28 road trip (from .242), although his production has a long way to go with only nine RBI.
The slow start by Jeter gave way to speculation that he was more the player that hit .270 a year ago instead of the .313 career hitter. Since taking over the shortstop position in 1996, the 36-year-old had never hit below .290 and has been counted on to get the big hit when it is needed most. Jeter has been named to the American League All-Star team 11 times, has won five Gold Glove awards, four Silver Slugger awards, Rookie of the Year (1996), as well as both the All-Star Game and World Series MVP in 2000.
Skills erode over time, but Jeter is not going to all of a sudden become a liability. He is still an above average fielder and the leader in the clubhouse. Players and managers have come and gone since the Yankees’ dynasty began 16 years ago but there has been only one constant. And Derek Jeter has a little more time in the sun before it sets on his great career.