Derek Jeter’s sendoff as he ends his 20-year career playing baseball for the New York Yankees has been something to behold.
Yes, he’s had a stellar career and yes, he’s been a model of decorum off the field.
The first element is worthy of praise. The second element is what has triggered the media love affair with the Yankees’ captain.
Think about this for a moment.
The public has been bombarded with an incessant downpour of bad news about high-profile athletes. Wife-beating. Child abuse. Drug abuse. Drunken driving. Carousing. Fights in bars. It’s been going on for years.
Then we have this story about Derek Jeter, a young man from Kalamazoo, Mich., who at one time thought about enrolling in the University of Michigan. Then fate came calling. The Yankees drafted him and he went to The Big Apple to play shortstop for the most storied franchise in all of sports — not just baseball.
Now as his career is drawing to a close, the media are looking back on his career with a fondness that seems as much an appreciation for the man he has become as for the skill he brought to the game.
Jeter is now being mentioned in the same breath as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle — the Four Horsemen of Yankee greatness. I suppose Jeter’s career stats would put him in that category no matter what.
The backdrop of all this pro athlete misbehavior, though, has helped stimulate the affection of a nation that is now saying “so long” to The Captain.