Friday, June 26, 2009

Waxing Philosophical

Today is Derek Jeter's 35th birthday.

It's kind of strange to think about when he broke in, really, in 1996--thirteen years ago.

When Jeter was busy being a rookie, I was busy hiding from my evil fourth grade teacher in the spring, and in the fall learning about the American Revolution in Ms. Servon's fifth grade classroom. Everyone loved fifth grade, because for the first time we were actually the oldest, and the most senior kids in the school. The highlight of the year was a trip into NYC to see Beauty and the Beast and a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall.

The things you remember...

Thirteen years might not seem like much, but to think, if we knew then what we know now, about what would happen, both in the world of baseball and the world without...

Who would have imagined in 1996 that not one, but three players would break the Babe's home run record, and that all of them would leave the game with tarnished legacies?

Who would have imagined that despite the PEDs scandal baseball attendance would grow to record numbers, threatened now only by economic collapse.

Who would have imagined that Boston would break the curse or that the Yankees would tear down Yankee Stadium?

Never mind imagining how cell phones would become ubiquitous and small enough to fit in a pocket, or how you could stream movies and live television over the internet, or that computers could come with terabytes of memory, or that VHS would be obsolete, or that the biggest investment banks have nearly all gone kaput within the space of a single calendar year...

Never mind the things that don't need to be said.

Does this mean that Jeter has been around forever?

Julio Franco and Jamie Moyer might disagree.

But it does shed a light on how long Jeter has been with the Yankees, and, despite the Captain GIDP moments, how much he is part of our identity as Yankee fans. It's not just that Jeter plays, almost without fail, but that he is such a great player. He doesn't hit for tons of power, sure, but he has a way of making his hits count, of sparking the offense, and of leading the team not by voice but by example. Which is exactly what you want your captain to do.

Just as there will never be another Babe or another Yogi or another Mantle, there will never be another Jeter.

Enjoy it while you can.