LADY AT THE BAT: Derek Jeter Goes Out On Top As Yankees Wrap Up Season

Monday, September 29, 2014

Derek Jeter Goes Out On Top As Yankees Wrap Up Season

Watching Derek Jeter walk off a baseball field for the last time as an active player was one of the most painful experiences of my baseball life. It was that painful because I knew that I’ll never see him lead the Yankees onto the field again, never see him stare in from SS waiting for the next pitch and never see him tug the rim of his helmet in the batters box moments before he sends a pitch into RF.

The Captain has played his final Major League game and, on Sunday afternoon, I was overcome with tears, a crying headache and disbelief that Derek Jeter’s career is really over. Even though he told us more than 162 games ago that this would be it, somehow it still didn’t feel real. Not until Thursday night when Derek Jeter slapped a game winning RBI single and earned his first Gatorade shower in his last game at Yankee Stadium did it start to sink in. The tears started then and continued right up until he walked off the field and into the visitors dugout at Fenway Park for the last time.

As I watched Jeter tip his cap one more time and hug his teammates, I thought to myself, “Don’t leave Captain. Don’t leave.” Part of me doesn’t want to find out what baseball is like without him. I don't want to imagine the Yankees without #2 running out to SS, leading the charge to another post-season berth. I can't face the litany of questions staring at my favorite team now that the distraction of Jeter’s farewell is complete.

Then I watched as the YES Network kept showing Jeter’s face in the dugout. There was the Captain, laughing, smiling and clapping the shoulders of his teammates. He looked relaxed. He looked composed. He looked ready to go. Ready to say goodbye.

And I realized that Michael Kay put it best during that broadcast when he said, “Well, there’s two ways you can look at it. You can be sad that it’s over…or you can just be elated that you got a chance to watch him for 20 years.”

Derek Jeter gave the Yankees and their fans his best for 20 years. Now he’s ready to move on, ready to remove that heavy crown and move on to another phase of his life. So now I choose to be elated, to be happy for him and, no matter how much it hurts, to let him go.

There will be moments of doubt over the winter as I wonder whether Joe Girardi lost the clubhouse with his late season tongue lashing, whether Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran will ever hit well enough to carry a line-up or whether the Yankees pitching can be as successful as it was in 2014. All of that is for another day. For now I’ll just say farewell Captain. And thank you.

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