No one wants to see the greats of the game slow down or retire. No one wanted to stop watching Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson doing their thing on the hardwood. We all wanted to see Cal Ripken keep his streak going and we all wanted to watch Gretzky set up in his office behind the opposing net a few more times. The problem is this, time and technology wait for no man.
An athlete has a few choices when he gets to the twilight of his career. He can keep playing because that is what the fans want to see even if he is a shadow of himself such as Willie Mays when he came to the Mets or Joe Namath with the Rams or he can retire before everything goes south.
Last week, Jeter grounded into a double play and as he walked back to the dugout, you can read his lips on how frustrated he was. This outburst was usually saved for Paul O'Neill. When he pulled his calf muscle yesterday, reports came in that he threw his helmet in the tunnel. These outbursts are definitely brought on by frustration.
With the retirement of Andy Pettite and the slow decline of Jorge Posada, we are slowly seeing the end of an era. Mariano is a machine and he'll probably keep pitching until he is 90. Now the question is, how much longer for Jeter.
Since Jeter is now on the 15 day disable list, we will get a glimpse of Life Without Jeter. Brett Gardner will take over the lead-off spot and Eduardo Nunez will take over at shortstop. Right now Gardner has a better batting average than Jeter, .272 to .260. On base percentage is higher .351 to .324 and more extra base hits, 17 to 11. Nunez is a younger and faster version of Jeter.
No one wants to lose a Derek Jeter but we must all be realistic, eventually he will be introduced only at Old Timers Day. We should all be happy to be able to say that we got the chance to see such a great person play the game the way it was supposed to be played and watch a young man conduct himself as a professional in the most pressure packed media location. He never brought embarassment on himself, his family or the New York Yankees. Derek Jeter should be commended for all that he has done for baseball as well as the City Of New York.
Hopefully in 15 days, Jeter will take his spot on the field and by watching the Yankees of the Future, we will all have something to look forward to.