Here’s hoping Derek Jeter just gets to write his own ending
He has been indestructible. He played through everything. Actually, he did more than just play. He played at the highest level. Through all the years, his expectations for himself—and our expectations for him—never changed. Two years ago when we were about to write him off, he came back better than ever.
He turned 38 last season midway through his 18th Major League season. He batted .316. Until the moment his left ankle was torn apart in Game 1 of the ALCS, he seemed to be what he’d pretty much always been. That is, one of the players every other was measured against. As Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, “We’ve never evaluated him the way we evaluate others.”
Maybe he’ll still be Superman again. That’s the thought that keeps going through the minds of almost everyone around the Yankees. If he was another player about to turn 39 years old and coming off a horrific injury, we’d wonder what he could still be.
But we’ve never looked at Jeter that way. No matter how bad the injury was, we just thought he’d be back earlier than expected and as good as ever. Even this spring when it was obvious he was having trouble running and that his recovery wasn’t going as smoothly as everyone hoped, we kept thinking he’d show up one day as good as new.
If he was another 38-year-old player, we’d feel differently. But he wasn’t. He was Jeter.
Maybe you noticed that the Yankees were decimated by injuries this spring. They were hit so hard that it was easy to see them finishing last in the AL East. But no one actually thought they’d finish last. That’s because they were still going to have Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter.
If they still had those three future Hall of Famers, how bad could it be?
On Thursday, there was more sobering news about Jeter with the announcement he’ll be out until at least the All-Star Break. That’s a guess since no one knows how quickly this latest injury will heal or when Jeter will be able to put weight on his left ankle.
Cashman has done a tremendous job piecing a competitive club together despite the injuries, and if Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira can return and play at a high level, the Yankees have a chance to win the American League East again. If that happens, Jeter has to be part of the deal.
He has represented the game too well and accomplished too much not to have one more October ride. It’s starting to become clear that he won’t have many more of them. If nothing else, let’s hope he gets to go out on his own terms. It has been an honor to watch him play. It would be an even greater honor to see him play some more.