For the longest time, Derek Jeter was the most consistent thing in my life. I mean the guy actually outlasted my parents' marriage. From the point where I actually could comprehend what was going on, which was about 4 or 5 years old, to about my 21st birthday, Derek Jeter was the shortstop for the New York Yankees. Any point in that time frame you'd turn on a Yankees game and you could guarantee he would be out there wearing number 2. There was just no one cooler or more clutch than that man. Today he will get voted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Life has been weird without him in my life. Didi Gregorius did a fine job filling in for him and helping the organization transition from an icon, but it still was never the same. Derek Jeter was my childhood. He made it cool to not be cocky. He just won and let that do the talking. Jeter would rather die than mention his name after a win, and trust me he won a lot. He was the reason every kid in little league tried to do his signature jump throw. He brought the Yankees back from the depths of mediocrity. They became the Yankees again in large part because of him. People forget, but New York hadn't won the World Series since 1978. Jeter arrived and they won 4 titles in 5 years. Derek was taken 6th in the 1992 draft. The Yankees have not picked higher than 13th since, because of the relentless winning culture he established. He didn't know how to do anything but win. He played in one game his entire career at Yankee Stadium where his team was mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Jeter was once asked of all his awards and accomplishments, what was the one that was most special to him. He responded...
When we win, that's it. That's why we play. You play to win in anything. If you wanna race me down the street I'll beat you. It's black and white for me. I don't think you're happy finishing second or you're happy getting to a World Series.
He was then asked what was worse, 2007 or 2001, 2003. You lose in the World Series or to not even make it to the World Series? This is my favorite quote in life.
"I mean how do you rate losing. I've never understood it. Like it feels better because we made it to the World Series and lost. Why does it feel better? I've never understood it.
When you think of all-time greats from the greatest organization in the history of sports of course you say Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, and Rivera (along with others), but you also say Jeter without batting an eye. You cannot tell the story of baseball without Derek Jeter. Today he will deservingly be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and that is just so fucking cool to a guy like me.
When Jeter retired I was a junior in college. I was in the basement of my Syracuse house watching his final home game against the O's with all my buddies. The uncertainty of whether to pull him or not in that game was making my skin crawl off my body. I wanted to puke. Girardi wanted to give him that moment of a standing ovation curtain call, but maybe he could also squeeze out one more at bat and see something potentially special.
Shout out to David Robertson for blowing that game late and allowing the O's to tie it in the 9th. That gave us one of the craziest moments in my life time. For Jeter to go out as a Yankee on a walkoff single through the right side is just perfect. That's pretty much the only time I've believed that we truly do live in the matrix and that coincidences aren't just random. I ran upstairs to my room, shut my door, collapsed in front of it, and cried my eyes out in pitch black darkness for about 20-30 minutes. It actually felt like a family member had died. It was one of the saddest moments of my life. Jeter in pinstripes was over. That's the kind of impact he had on Yankees fans. He was Kobe to the Lakers. Brady to the Pats. Someone you just thought would play their sport forever and nothing would ever change. Once Jeter retired I finally realized I was getting old. Childhood was over and life officially sucked.
For the folks out there who don't think he should be unanimous, you're just stupid. If you're a voter and don't think Derek Jeter should be in the Hall of Fame you should be thrown in federal prison. I hate you. You're proving to the world that you didn't watch baseball from the mid 90s to the early 2010s. So far there are none of you, but I've got a horrible feeling there will be someone. Someone will pick out his defensive numbers that were heavily weighed down at the end of his career because he refused to move out of the shortstop position. No shit he wasn't great those final years, but take away your bias and look at his entire career. 3,465 hits. The most hits, runs and total bases in postseason history. 14 time All-Star. 5 time World Series champion. An absolute legend. You were lucky if you lived to see Derek Jeter play baseball.
Mariano paved the way last year for the unanimous selections to finally start happening. Sure, if you look at other players in the Hall who weren't unanimous some will have better resumes than Jeter's, but it's time to stop thinking like that. Look at the player. Are they a Hall of Famer? Jeter is without a doubt. He should, by that reasoning, be unanimous. End of story.
P.S. I really hope Larry Walker gets in too. Dude had a Hall of Fame career, he deserves it.