A wooden stick, a small white ball with red stitching and a brown leather glove all contribute to a game that brings families together like no other. It produces heroes of all kinds. From nobodies like New York Mets LF Benny Agbayani, hitting a walk off home run in Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS against the San Francisco Giants in extras to dramatic heroes like Kirk Gibson when during the 1988 World Series hit a game winning home run against the Oakland Athletics. He hobbled around the bases. He was a man who was hampered with injuries to his hamstrings and his left knee. It helped drive the LA Dodgers all of the way to win it all.
The game of baseball is great like that. It gives everyone a chance to be recognized for a dramatic moment. Every player has a chance to be a hero. It doesn’t matter what position you play. It doesn’t matter if you are a bench player or an every day player. It makes no difference if you are a starter or a reliever. When the moment comes, you get the recognition and it is talked about forever. Remember “the catch” by Endy Chavez? He was only in the game because starter Cliff Floyd was hurt.
Then there are the every day heroes like New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He is a consistent hero. He is not overrated. He is not a fraud. SNY’s Loudmouths host, Chris Carlin, is nothing more than a frogmouth when he called Jeter a “fraud”. He is a great player who loves the game. I can see why he was hired for the show. No matter how much a person may hate the Yankees, you give credit where it is due. Jeter has earned that. But how much is too much?
We live in an age where if a player retires, it is announced before or during the baseball season. Then the farewell tour begins. Everyone plays hero worship. When this became okay nobody really knows. You can make the argument it was Cal Ripken, Jr. When he made his announcement, he got small tokens like charitable donations. Former third baseman for the Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones, started the dramatic tour that it is today with outlandish gifts and tributes.
Nobody is taking away the accomplishments of these great players. They have done so much for the game of baseball and they did it the right way. They stayed with one team throughout their career and they stayed away from illegal substances. You know what I’m talking about. Personally, I miss the days when a player made the announcement after the season was over. All of these tours are annoying. The games become longer, as if they aren’t long enough. Let their own team pay tribute and leave it at that. The fans can pay tribute at the player’s last at-bat of the series.
This entire year has become the year of Derek Jeter. It should never become that. Baseball should always be about all of the heroes that play the game throughout the year. It should not be about who gave what to who on the latest farewell tour.