Derek Jeter’s season-long retirement circus just got a little more outrageous.
Because the Red Sox had the lead in the middle of Tuesday night’s game in New York, the Yankees decided it was the perfect time to announce the pièce de résistance of their tributes to their legendary shortstop in his final season: every member of the team will spend the rest of September wearing a Derek Jeter patch on his uniform to honor their star’s 20 years of service to the organization.
The Yankees decided this was a good idea even though Jeter isn’t dead or dying and doesn’t need to be memorialized because he will be standing right there. This sentence from MLB.com’s report of the announcement shows the utter ridiculousness of this gimmick: “The entire team, including Jeter, will debut the logos on Derek Jeter Day, prior to Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Royals.”
So Jeter will be wearing, or “debuting,” rather, a patch with his own name, number, and the fact that he is the team’s captain on it on Derek Jeter Day in a ceremony honoring his career. And he will probably be wearing these cleats.
This is laughable. But did we expect anything less?
This is the exact reason Jeter announced his retirement before the season rather than at the end. I get that he wants to say goodbye and receive recognition for his accomplishments, but this is ludicrous. Yes, he is certainly a talented player who deserves to be honored for the years of success that make up his Hall of Fame career with the Yankees. He comes across as a humble gentleman who handles his fame as both an athlete and a celebrity with class and modesty, rarely divulging details of his private life. Along with his talent, integrity, and strong work ethic, Jeter’s clean-cut image makes him a solid role model for young baseball players.
But this season has been an all-out Jeter ego-fest. The parade of goodbyes that has been rolling since April is a display of his true colors and confirms that he craves attention just as much as any outwardly ostentatious athlete–Alex Rodriguez, for example. Jeter is just sneaky about it, making him the fraud that many Red Sox fans always knew he was. He relishes the endless praise and shower of extravagant gifts he receives from every team the Yankees face. The irony of these tributes is that they celebrate Jeter’s class in the most tasteless way possible. Subtlety is always classier and the excessive glorification of Jeter this season has been anything but.
This year’s All-Star Game was so over the top, it was a wonder Major League Baseball was able to squeeze in the game between Jeter tributes. Not even the commercial breaks provided a reprieve from the #RE2PECT everyone is expected to show him. Whoever put together this creepy morphing of his face throughout the years had the right idea, though: revisit his entire career in 15 seconds and be done with it.
When Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who is actually classy, retired after last season, his team paid tribute to him in a variety of ways that were tasteful and appropriate to honor his stellar career. In Rivera’s final outing, Jeter and Andy Pettitte walked out to the mound to remove him from the game and it was actually a touching moment.
While the Yankees did wear Rivera patches on their hats to pay tribute to the closer, they only wore them for one day. The Yankees will wear Jeter’s patch for the rest of the season. We don’t need a reminder during every second of every game that he is retiring and that he is the captain and he wears the number 2. HE WILL BE STANDING RIGHT THERE. And he will be wearing one too because the Yankees will do whatever they can to make him feel special because he deserves constant recognition because he is Derek Jeter.
Jeter is a legendary player who has been the face of baseball for the past two decades. Before this season, I respected him as a player and as a person. I felt a little nostalgic whenever I thought about his retirement because he has been a hallmark of baseball for almost my entire life. But at this point, his exit can’t come soon enough.
And of course the final game of Jeter’s illustrious career will take place at Fenway Park. If you are a Red Sox fan attending this game on September 28th, just understand the historical significance of your presence, as you will bear witness to what will likely be the final three-hour-long celebration of Derek Jeter. And then it will be over and the game of baseball will never be the same without him.