The Kansas City Royals begin the last week of August in 2014 in first place of the American League Central. Let that sink in for awhile. The ballclub has been in first place now for two weeks and looks to stay in front of the division tonight as the Royals take on the New York Yankees in Derek Jeter’s Final stop to The K.
Derek Jeter debuted for the New York Yankees in May of 1995 and since than has been one of the most durable and consistent players of his generation. In the 1996 season, Jeter won the American League Rookie of the Year and has since been the face of the Yankees organization. The Captain has been one of the most influential and motivational players in the league the past 20 years. His character and charisma have been something that players around the league, and fans around the world have admired about him since day one.
Jeter has made 14 All-Star appearances, won 5 Gold Gloves, was a Silver Slugger 5 times, won the 2000 World Series MVP, and has 5 World Series Titles to his name. There are not a lot of players that can boast a resume of that caliber and still have the work ethic and desire for professional baseball over a span of 20 seasons.
The New York Yankees have taken a lot of heat the past couple seasons due to two of their most recognizable stars: Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Both of these players were two of the longest tenured players with the Yankees and have had incredible careers which have put them both in the mix for greatest all-time at their positions. So why the harsh criticism on the Yankees club? Two reasons really. The first reason being that the Yankees have had a history of overpaying aging veterans in the hopes that it would bring titles. Although this strategy may have worked a decade ago, the gap between small market and big market teams is closer than ever and payroll does not necessarily affect your chances of winning anymore. The second reason, tying along with the first, is the Yankees inability to let the past go. The Yankees minor league system is arguably the worst in baseball and in a time where they are just fighting for a wild card spot, the Yankees would rather pay to hold on to tradition, rather than let go and build a winning team within the organization that will last.
The Derek Jeter Farewell Tour, the biggest thing since, well, Mariano Rivera’s last season. I think it is a nice gesture and a great sign of respect for the great players that have played the game. However, baseball, and sports in general, are about competition and going around to ballparks around the country advertising it like The Beatles, takes a little bit away from the games on hand. If you are going to recognize a player’s career and his legacy, I believe it should be your own team’s players. Then again, there has never been another player quite as beloved and respected as Derek Jeter. I’m not sure this is going to be a normal thing around the league to honor great players, and a little part of me hopes it isn’t, but I do know that Derek Jeter is one of the most respected individuals in league history and I hope Kansas City, as well as the rest of Major League Baseball and fans everywhere understand the type of player he was and realize what the league will be missing without him.
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