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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Breaking up is hard to do


One of life’s toughest challenges is coming to grips with the end of something special.
This past winter, when Derek Jeter was negotiating his new contract, the Yankees were prepared for this sobering reality. Their hard-line financial stance was a clear indication that they thought Jeter had little left in the tank.

Even though he was coming off an underwhelming statistical season, the Yankees’ attitude seemed callous. After all, this was the captain, the cog of New York’s beloved “Core Four.” To the innocent bystander, Jeter still looks and sounds the same, which made a bounce-back season seem plausible.  

At the season’s halfway point, it’s clear he’s not the same, though. When October rolls around, Mr. November seriously needs to contemplate retirement.

It’s not a knock on his diminishing skills; it’s just the nature of the baseball world. At 37 years old, and without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs, Jeter is nearing the end.

Truth be told, I’ve never been fond of the Yankees. Through the years, their “evil empire” has stretched down to New York’s sixth borough, South Florida, where I grew up surrounded by insufferable Yankee fans.

With that said, I’ve always respected Jeter. How could you not?

Purely from a baseball sense, “The Captain” has been the personification of cool. Whenever the Yankees were locked in a tight postseason game, Jeter would saunter to the batter’s box and calmly dig in, as if he had ice water in his veins.

Almost on cue, he would rip a pitch into the gap and help New York take control. With No. 2 at bat, clutch hitting became an expectation, a sure sign of his greatness.
And while sabermetricians have his criticized his defense, some of Jeter’s finest moments have come in the field.

For an athlete who has been fully indoctrinated in the narcissistic Yankee way, Jeter has always carried himself with a level of self-awareness that teammate/foil Alex Rodriguez — until recently — always lacked. Even with the weight of the Big Apple on his shoulders, he’s never buckled.

That’s what has made this season almost unbearable. Clearly, Jeter is a shell of his former self.

His .270 batting average, which skyrocketed after his record-breaking performance on Saturday, matches his 2010 average and is still the lowest for any full season of his 16-year career.

If he gets out soon, Jeter can avoid becoming one of those “guys who held on too long.” Of course it didn’t ruin his sparkling legacy, but I always tend to think of Willie Mays, who at the end was stumbling around Shea Stadium’s outfield. Jeter’s not there yet, at least.

Surely, there are some who see the captain’s storybook weekend as a sign of things to come. To me, it resembled one of those 40-point games Michael Jordan had in Washington, a fleeting moment of greatness for a falling star.

For my generation, it will be difficult to let go of Derek Jeter. His career arc has coincided with our coming of age. By giving up on his career, it almost feels as if we’re reluctantly accepting entry into the real world. It’s tough.

His inconsistencies this season have me stammering and spouting clichés, as if I was at the end of any fading romance.

Derek, we need to talk. It’s not you, it’s me. Well, to be honest we’re both getting older, and it’s time for some new experiences.

It’s time to call it quits.

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