Thursday, September 25, 2014

My thoughts on the never-ending Derek Jeter farewell tour

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I have been griping about the monstrosity of this eternal Derek Jeter farewell tour for months. I lost patience with it at the All-Star Game, with Adam Wainwright's "pipe shot" to Jeter, the obsequious Nike commercial, and the incessant talk about the Yankee captain keeping the broadcasters from discussing anybody or anything else. But this tour has only become even more obnoxious and self-serving and crass since.

For somebody who is beloved in no small part precisely because he was supposed to be about team, and not himself, this whole spectacle has been a massive, and yes, hypocritical ego trip on an unprecedented level. From the patch honoring himself on all of the Yankees' hats and jerseys for the past three weeks, to the Jeter flags circling Yankee Stadium, to the special Jeter bases, to the self-aggrandizing and obnoxious King of NY cleats, to the shameless Steiner Sports event where fans paid three and four figures to watch Jeter answer fawning "interview" questions from Brandon Steiner, to the tribute commercials, to the "My Way" theme song, to the incessant media coverage, it is all too much. 

At the same time, almost nobody in the media -- with the noted exceptions of Ken Davidoff, Chris Carlin, and Keith Olbermann -- has had anything critical to say about how this tour is the exact opposite of what Jeter is supposed to be about. I don't agree with all of their arguments -- Carlin shouldn't have used the word "fraud" and some of Olbermann's arguments, like the idea Jeter must miss the Boston series to be a real Yankee, were weak. But I think we need to have dissenting views from the herd, and talk about them, without others complaining about them being "haters" -- the most overused and misused term out there these days. Literally 99.9% of the articles out there this year on Jeter are positive, despite the crassness of this tour. And yet some Jeter fans lose their minds over any opinion that does not conform to their ideal, wanting to silence those opinions. Sheesh.

The Yankees were eliminated from the postseason yesterday, which should be a much bigger deal than it is. After all, this is the second year in a row the Bombers didn't make the postseason, despite the biggest payroll in the league. The Yankees have become the new Atlanta Braves, with one title in 14 seasons, except the Braves actually won their division each year (and did it in a third of the payroll of these Yankees.) Oh, and Atlanta actually fired their GM when they didn't make the playoffs this year. Meanwhile, in Yankeeland, the incompetent Brian Cashman may get yet another contract. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned accountability in the Bronx? 

I think it is clear that the Steinbrenners are more interested in this shameless money grab that the "season2watch" has become than in winning. After all, this tour has been putting fannies in the seats, and cash in the coffers. Who cares about the games when you can buy a Derek Jeter sock for the low, low price of $409.99? And that is one sock -- not a pair! Or you can buy the dirt Jeter walked on, or the rake that touched the dirt that Jeter walked on, as if these items are religious relics from a saint. I imagine Brandon Steiner -- who was celebrating in Jeter's private suite at Yankee Stadium with Derek's dad -- will try to sell the air from over today's game, or the rain. And fans will be all too happy to open their wallets.

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The biggest irony to me is that Jeter's actual tangibles -- Jayson Stark highlighted some of the eyepopping numbers in Derek's career -- get lost in all this blather and hype over the intangibles. Sorry, folks, but Jeter isn't the best person to ever play the game, But he was a very good player who was consistently very good for a very long time. He never had an MVP season, but he had a consistent level of success which is reflected in the 3400+ hits and 200 postseason hits and over 1000 multi-hit games and 2743 games played,  He is a first-ballot HOFer and a top five Yankee. If you want to talk off-the-field stuff, his Turn 2 Foundation has given $19 million in grants to help young people. Isn't that enough? Why do we have to have all the rest of this nonsense?

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