Besides reminding me of a joke from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”, I thought Robin Ventura nailed MLB’s treatment of Derek Jeter’s farewell tour when he recently said, “He’s not dying, he’s just retiring.” There's a bit of jealousy in Ventura's words, but it does kind of seem like there's someone at the Make-A-Wish Foundation who keeps forgetting to remove Jeter's name from the system and instead keeps scheduling additional wishes.
That's not to say that Jeter shouldn't be receiving these honors. He deserves it as much as anybody. It's going to be weird not seeing him out there at shortstop next year. Of course, I haven't been glad to see him at shortstop for a long time. Glad he's in the lineup. Not at shortstop. I got more range out of a pair of paper cups and a string than he's had in the field in the past eight or so years. Still, if any two baseball players deserved the attention and glamor it's the two Yankees that have gone through it the past two seasons, Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
It's only a third of the way through the year and maybe it’s because of having to do it with Rivera last year, but it already seems old and uninspired. Watching Jeter trot out to home plate to receive his farewell gift every other week reminds me of the montage scene from “Boogie Nights” in which Dirk Diggler is accepting all of his awards.
At first he’s all excited and goes into a big speech about how he’s going to keep on “rockin’ and rollin’” and by the end he’s acknowledging the next in a long line of awards with a blank stare and a “thank you!”
Even the recipient is becoming a little embarrassed over the continual building of mountains from mole hills.
“It’s kind of an awkward feeling because everyone’s wishing you well, and I’m not going to fall off the face of the Earth,” Jeter said, thumbing through the cliché section in the Crash Davis Guide to Interviewing. “I’d like to think I’ll be around for a while after this, but everything people have said and done, it’s very much appreciated.”
Of course Jeter can’t say too much about it making him uncomfortable. He saw what happened with Rivera at each and every city, and if he didn’t want the circus he didn’t have to announce to the world that this was going to be his final season.
It’s hard to say that your friends didn’t have to throw you a surprise party after dropping hints about wanting one for the previous three months.
There is nothing wrong with honoring all-time greats, and the good news is that after doing it for Rivera last year that teams are tired of it this year, but what else in sports gets honored for an entire year? And what exactly are some of these things teams have been honoring him with? The Astros bestowed him with a pair of pinstriped cowboys boots that I’m sure are getting as much use as Jeter’s glove at this point in his career. Nice to see he’s able to flash the leather again. It was also nice of Houston to finally spend a little of that revenue sharing they've been getting (mostly from the Yankees) the past five seasons.
The Angels gave him a surfboard so big it would take five Frankie Avalons to control that thing, and I’m sure he’ll be able to find plenty of breaks out on the Hudson River.
So far the Cubs seem to have come up with the best presentation when they handed him the “2” from the hand-operated scoreboard at Wrigley Field. Though, that almost seems like they forgot to get him anything and grabbed something in haste at the last minute.
Many teams donated money to Jeter’s charity foundations, though the White Sox gave him a jar of dirt. That's how bad it's gotten on the South Side of Chicago. Dirt is actually a valuable commodity.
The thing is, they really don't even owe him that. All that should be expected of any city is a nice ovation before his first at-bat. That's it. If he drives in the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th I'd expect the hometown crowd to boo him. Appreciation for his lifetime achievements ends when he starts to be a factor in the current game.
It could be interesting to see what the Red Sox do for him. Possibly name something after him at Dunkin' Donuts? Can't think of many things more satisfying than knowing much of the Nation is ordering the “Jeter” with a cup of coffee for 2 bucks.
Also seems a little weird that we would have to celebrate every day for a year when it used to be we had only one day to commemorate sports heroes. Lou Gehrig Day gave us one of the most memorable moments in baseball history and almost 60,000 people packed Yankee Stadium to say goodbye to the Babe. Over 60,000 showed when Mickey Mantle bowed out. What's wrong with Derek Jeter Day?
And doesn't the few hundred million the Yankees have paid him during his career count for anything? What could any of these teams possibly give him that he doesn't already have? It appears that there is a distinct possibility that this could turn into a game of one-upsmanship between the owners of the remaining teams that Jeter has to visit a final time. I know what mine would be. Considering he's one of a handful of players still around from when first-run “Seinfeld” episodes were airing, get Bernie Williams and Jason Alexander together and redo the scene where George is teaching them both how to hit.
Sure beats a bench made of bats and balls or a cake, but I guess it also hasn't gotten too ridiculous. I mean, no one has brought him gold, frankincense or myrrh yet, right?
Chris Appel is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at email@example.com