By: Bryan Peach, KCOU Sports
Over the last 19 seasons one would be hard pressed to find a player in the MLB that has had as much success and played with as much class as Derek Jeter. A mainstay at shortstop for the powerhouse New York Yankees from 1995 to this season, The Captain will hang his jersey up after the Yankees’ three game series against the Red Sox draws to a close. Whatever player takes Jeter’s place at shortstop next season will surely have a pair of enormous shoes to fill. This season, Jeter has been honored in nearly every ballpark that he has played in, and it is evident that he has earned every standing ovation that he has been given.
No other MLB team has established as great a winning tradition over their existence as the New York Yankees, so a season that does not lead to the postseason is disappointing to say the least. This year the Yankees feel uncharacteristically far behind in the race for the Al East division, 13 games back of the Baltimore Orioles. Similarly, Jeter had a sub-par year at the plate posting a .255 average, with four long balls and 49 RBIs. However, one should also take Jeter’s age into account, the shortstop turned 40 years old this season. Despite his increasing age, he has been as deft and nimble in the field as ever.
Thursday night, Jeter ended the last home game of his career in heroic fashion. With the score tied at five in the bottom of the ninth and Antoan Richardson on second base, Jeter struck an opposite field single to give the Yankees the walk off win over Baltimore 6-5. This at bat is a marvelous example of how Jeter has played the game over the course of his whole career. He has been a solid figure around which Yankees management could build a team, and he has come up clutch for New York on many occasions throughout his 19 seasons with the team.
The Captain, an integral member of the Yankee’s “Core Four,” will play his last game against Boston on Sunday. This game will put an end to his illustrious career in the MLB. Jeter has compiled a stat line of: a .309 average, 260 home runs, 1,307 RBIs, and a staggering 3,461 hits. With five Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger awards each to his name, along with a World Series MVP in 2000 and five World Series titles, Jeter appears to have received all the accolades of a hall of fame caliber player. It is clear the MLB is not only losing a great talent, but a competitor that defined sportsmanship and class. This year we bid farewell to a player that contributed a great deal to his team, the fans, and the game of baseball in general. Farewell Captain, your retirement has been well earned.