Bowing out in style, bowing out gracefully or simply bowing out, because the game has now become uninteresting ?
In the lead-up to the start of the exhibition season in baseball , known to the most devout of fans as Spring Training . The biggest story of the early preseason has been the announcement by Derek Jeter that the 2014 baseball season will in fact be his last . He brings to an end a glorious two-decade long career that has seen the New York Yankees’ shortstop having won a slew of awards as being anointed as a five-time World Series champion as well as having a World Series MVP award . Certainly , Jeter would like nothing better than to win a sixth series’ ring in his final season, with the only franchise he has ever played for. Last season , he witnessed the retirements of two former teammates , in Andy Pettite and Mariano Rivera who along with catcher , Jorge Posada , made up a core quartet , that were part of four World Series’ triumphs for the franchise during seven-year span , all under the watchful eye of then manager , Joe Torre , who this season was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown , New York . Undoubtedly, Jeter along with Rivera and Pettite will be future bound Hall of Fame inductees having met the criteria needed.
A great deal will be expected of this New York Yankees’ team after the usual flurry of acquisitions made by the franchise during the off-season , with the organization committing in excess of $400 million on the players acquired by general manager Brian Cashman to bolster the roster , managed by Joe Girardi and his staff .
New York is likely to enter this MLB season with the largest payroll of any team entering the official Opening Day schedule on the 31st March , 2014 . Consider the fact, that for the very first time in 2013, payroll commitment for baseball’s thirty teams topped $3 billion ($3,000,000,000) for the very first time in baseball history . As to what this might suggest , when it comes to teams showing financial expediency can be best summed up by the ongoing idiocy of baseball’s luxury tax sharing scheme which has not really served any real purpose , other than for the hierarchy to penalize the high spending salaried ball-clubs around the Major Leagues. From my own standpoint, I firmly believe that financial expediency will remain the last thing on the mind of baseball’s hierarchy, in spite of the official comments coming out of the league’s headquarters based in Manhattan , New York . The MLBPA is far too powerful a union to take on, with the owners simply cowering far too often in their wake. While the Players’ Union (MLBPA) itself , has a new successor to Michael Weiner as its Executive Director, there is no doubt in my mind, they will continue to always negotiate from a position of power ! Former player , Tony Clark now succeeds Weiner , who lost his battle with lymph node cancer , with his death coming as a shock to many around the word of baseball , with his tenure being such a short one.
The New York Yankees made a big splash in signing of Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka , making him amongst the highest paid starting pitchers in the game, with an astronomical seven-year $155 million contract , that also places him amongst the highest paid players on the Yankees’ payroll for this season . Were it not for the year-long suspension of Alex Rodriguez and his $29 million due for this season , Tanaka’s pay of $22 million still places him behind the annual salaries of both CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira . . With the team having missed the postseason , with a lackluster end to their season , falling way behind both the AL East divisional champions the Boston Red Sox and the second-placed Tampa Bay Rays . It will be extremely difficult to suggest that Tanaka’s acquisition along with that of Jacoby Ellsbury , Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran will be enough to see this team possibly leap-frog both of their divisional rivals , while also posing a serious enough threat to the rest of the AL this upcoming season . Last season, injuries alone , were not the sole excuse for the Yankees’ on field failures. Several of their games were lost due to their complacency and a lack of leadership coming from anyone on the field of play , while team captain , Derek Jeter spent a large part of the season on the team’s disabled list with two prolonged spells .
Pitching will have to consistent all season long for the New York Yankees , in a division , where the makeups for the rosters of the Baltimore Orioles , Toronto Blue Jays , Rays and Red Sox will have a dearth and considerable depth to the lineups of the aforementioned teams. CC Sabathia is likely to be the Opening Day starter for the Yankees, a role which fits the veteran nicely. Hiroki Kuroda , Masahiro Tanaka can presumably be, switched around as the number two or three starters in the rotation , to be followed by Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova , as the case maybe . The reliever’s role now becomes all the more trickier for Joe Girardi, as Yankees will no longer have Mariano Rivera to close out games , be it for the last 2 1/3 innings or slightly longer . Rivera’s retirement along with his record-breaking 652 regular season career saves and another forty-two in postseason play , makes him the most dominant pitcher in history in that specific role. A staple for the New York Yankees that they are now likely to miss more than Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would care to willingly admit .
Robinson Cano’s departure from the New York Yankees to join the Seattle Mariners may well be questioned, as I believe that the player is likely to struggle within an organization that has not made the postseason in several years and whose last divisional title came in 2001 . It begs the question, has Cano simply become a mercenary , albeit that his agent , Jay-z of Roc Nation Sports, sought the best for client, in terms of what he believed was Robinson Cano’s worth ? The player himself , indicated that he felt disrespected by the New York Yankees , and the negotiation process led by Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner as they made a vain attempt to re-sign the player to a lucrative contract . The Yankees have and will move forward , while Cano, by mid-season, could very well be pondering if he made the right decision to leave the New York Yankees to join an organization , merely struggling to remain relevant within the AL West , as it has so often done over the past eight years .
If there is one thing that we do know about Derek Jeter and his persona , it is that he is a gritty and very determined player. Few players have been afforded the privilege, of becoming the captain of the New York Yankees during that proud franchise’s history . The last such player of note, to be given that role, was Don Mattingly , who currently manages the Los Angeles Dodgers . Mattingly’s , own career with the Yankees was filled with highs and lows , but he became a fan favorite with his heroics on the field of play , with his candor , when dealing with the press and the fans alike, away from the diamond. Jeter is likely to go down as one of the most celebrated players in recent Yankees’ <a href=http://m history and franchise history overall , while not necessarily being considered one of the top five or six players ever to have donned the Yankees’ Pinstripes. Yet , a debate is likely to begin amongst the fan-base of the Yankees and amongst the purists and MLB analysts everywhere as to where he ought to be ranked amongst the likes of Lou Gehrig , Joe DiMaggio , Mickey Mantle , Babe Ruth , Phil Rizutto and perhaps, Mattingly, himself. That may well be a debate, that is likely create arguments and counterarguments, concerning a very much heated topic among the protagonists and contraries .
While Derek Jeter claims that now is the right time for him to step away from the game, to devote more time to his charitable and philanthropic efforts , be with his family and by his own words, start a family . It has me wondering, Jeter’s wish may well be to leave on a high note, but I can’t help but wonder, if the player has simply not become disenchanted with the game of baseball and the never-ending controversies, that have come to encapsulate baseball in recent seasons , leaving a number of fans also disenchanted and simply distrustful of the league hierarchy led by Bud Selig . Jeter has never openly discussed the issue of steroids within the game , which is very much line with many of his peers , albeit , that the likes of Albert Pujols and David Ortiz have seen their names brought up as a topic of debate concerning the issue. Pujols has come out and suggested, that if the league wants to test him ‘ then they can’ , as he has never and would never use an illicit substance in order to assist his game . The slugger’s career in baseball since his entry in to Major League Baseball when drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1999 MLB Draft . In the ensuing years he has become one of the most prolific players of this era .
Derek Jeter’s first exhibition game for the New York Yankees will likely see a major turnout , in terms of the legions of fans, wishing to bid him farewell . He has become one of a handful of role models that the game of baseball can actually point to and say “ he has done things the right way” . A case like that, cannot be made for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa , Mark McGwire , Jose Canseco , Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun. Such has been the dismay within the sport and the very fact that Bud Selig remains clueless , on how best to address one the biggest continued stains on the game, since the “Black Sox “ scandal over nine decades ago. Granted, racism , segregation ran the gamut through baseball and while many lauded Branch Rickey and his “ social experiment “, with the introduction of Jackie Robinson unto an integrated team , it should be noted that Robinson was not the first person of color , ever to play in the Major Leagues. Moses Fleetwood “ Fleet” Walker would break the “color barrier” . be it ever so briefly , but therein lies how history seeks to rewrite the annals of the game , to paint the type of picture that appears to be more socially responsive .
A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .
The regular season home opening series at Yankees Stadium will likely see a full house with the press in full attendance , print and television media alike , along with credentialed representatives from farther afield , as this story will be of international importance wherever baseball is known to be played and with the Yankees having legions of fans across the globe. That initial three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles starting on the 7th April will prove to be a historic event in the milestone of Derek Jeter’s career and that of the New York Yankees. Subsequently , the Boston Red Sox will come to town and the two teams’ season long series should prove to be eventful, much like their it annual meetings have proven to be over the past two decades . This is perhaps the greatest rivalry within baseball, with so many of these contests having additional meaning for the soon to be retired Yankees’ shortstop. In recent history , perhaps the most memorable contest between the two teams took place series and what is now known as perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history and also the biggest meltdown by a team leading a series , with their needing one game for victory and a berth in the World Series.. That classic 2004 ALCS contest between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees still has reverberations within both organizations , as it led to the Red Sox’s resurgence under Terry Francona , with two World Series in the span of five years and then with another in 2013 , under newly installed manager John Farrell .
As the season meanders towards its postseason finale , it will be interesting to see whether or not the New York Yankees will be in contention for a divisional title within the AL East or perhaps a wildcard berth as they chase down unprecedented forty-first AL Pennant and twenty-eighth World Series’ title . The month of September should prove to be climactic for all of the league’s thirty teams , but perhaps more so for the Yankees and all that this season is likely to mean for the franchise and the career of Derek Jeter.
How appropriate is it, that what is likely to be Jeter’s last regular season game will be played at Fenway Park in Boston on the final day of the season , when the New York Yankees will be the guests of their most famous rivals the Boston Red Sox ? Nineteen regular season meetings on annual basis , has a great deal going for it , and if the two teams should somehow also be contesting the AL East on the final day. Then look for the heroics to come from Jeter and his teammates, as they seek to send him out in style. That may not prove to be the case however , as it is my firm opinion that the Red Sox are likely to prevail once again this season and repeat as divisional champions. They proved to be far too dominant for their rivals within the AL East as their season long series against the Baltimore Orioles ( 8-11) , New York Yankees ( 13-6) , Tampa Bay Rays ( 12-7) and Toronto Blue Jays ( 11-8)would prove to be as evidence in those contests.
Picture gallery .
What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this article and how do you view the career of Derek Jeter as a player with the New York Yankees ? Your comments are more than welcome, so chime in, with a thought as you see fit.
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter speaks with Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal , a managing partner within the New York Yankees’ organization . Jeter met with the convened press at the Yankees’ Spring Training facility at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa , Florida where he confirmed that this season would be his last in Major League Baseball , having played his entire two-decade long career with franchise . AP Photo / Chris O’Meara ….
(2) New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter gestures during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …
(3) New York Yankees part owner and co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner listens as shortstop Derek Jeter speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara ….
(4) New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman responds to a question about shortstop Derek Jeter after a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. Jeter has announced he will retire at the end of the 2014 season. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara …
(5) TAMPA, FL – FEBRUARY 19: Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees speaks after Derek Jeter spoke at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images …
(6) Jacoby Ellsbury is seen here with New York Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi after the player was formally introduced to the convened having been acquired as a free agent . Ellsbury coming off a World Series’ win with the Boston Red Sox last season , hopes to be productive for his new team spearheading on offense that will also include Mark Teixeira , Carlos Beltran , Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki . AP Photo / Chris Evans …
(7) Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees poses for a photograph with, from left, general manager Brian Cashman, Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost , President Randy Levine , managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner , Assistant General Manager Jean Afterman and manager Joe Girardi as he introduced to the media during a news conference on February 11, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Tanaka signed a seven-year $155 million contract that will see him be a part of the Yankees’ pitching rotation that will include CC Sabathia , Hiroki Kuroda , Ivan Nova and David Phelps . Jim McIsaac / Getty Images …..
(8) Derek Jeter is seen here during the 1996 World Series played against the Atlanta Braves . Coming off his Rookie of the Year Award in 1995 , in his second year as a Major League player he would be in the first of his four World Series’ triumphs with Joe Torre as the Yankees’ manager . Atlanta would succumb to the Yankees in a lopsided series’ loss to the AL Pennant winners of that season . AP Photo / Marcus Shaw …..
(9) A historical account is given of Moses Fleetwood ” Fleet” Walker of his being the first player of color to have played in the Majors , some six decades head of Jackie Robinson’s first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 .
(10) Roger Clemens ,(left) and Barry Bonds , two of the most celebrated players of their generation and long seen as the “faces” of the steroid era within baseball . Bonds a seven-time NL MVP remains the all-time career and season home runs’ leader . Clemens is himself a seven time Cy Young Award winner with over three hundred career wins and over 4000 strikeouts on his career resume’ . Both players were on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot , but failed to gain the necessary votes for induction into Cooperstown . In 2015 their names will once again be up for submission , but it is highly unlikely that either will be voted in . UPI / Matt Simmons ……….
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This month in MLB history
This date in MLB history (19th February)