Jeter Needs To Play This Weekend

We know that tonight will be emotional. We know that the fans will give Derek Jeter a huge sendoff and however Joe Girardi handles it, Jeter will leave to the loudest ovation in the new place since 2009. (My bet is he gets replaced at short in the middle of an inning so he can walk off the field alone.) But whatever happens, tonight should not be the end.

I never knew until the other day that Ted Williams finished his Red Sox career three games early. I knew he hit a homer in his final Fenway AB, but I didn’t know the Red Sox had three games in New York after that which Williams didn’t play in. People are calling for Jeter to do the same thing Williams did and take the uniform off tonight and start his retirement. They are wrong.

They are wrong because this is not 1960 and they are wrong because of the way Jeter has handled his retirement. In 1960 fans didn’t go to games like they do today. The COMBINED attendance for the three final Yankees-Red Sox games in 1960 was less than 40,000, and the Yankees were heading to the World Series. Furthermore, there wasn’t a scalping market in 1960 like there is today. The cheapest ticket on Stub Hub for Sunday’s game right now is $211. People are not paying those prices to see the 90-loss Red Sox face the .500 Yankees. They are paying to see Jeter and he owes it to them to show up and play in all three games. (In the interest of full disclosure thanks to Andy, I have a ticket to Saturday’s game which he purchased at face value.) 

Furthermore, Jeter has turned his retirement into a sappy good-bye tour that he is making a fortune off of. Mariano Rivera took the time to meet with season ticket holders and behind the scenes employees last year. I thought that justified the endless tributes he received around the league.  Jeter says he can’t do that as an everyday player, but he managed to have a meet and greet for anyone willing to pay from $149 to $2999 Monday before the Yankees night game. Jeter and Steiner Sports have flooded the marketplace with Jeter memorabilia. For $25,000 you can buy a uniform he wore. If that’s too much, how about $2500 for a lineup card with his name in it? Still too much?  Then the name plate for his locker at “only” $1500 may be for you. Jeter is entitled to make as much as he wants, but he gets paid to play baseball games, almost $100,000 a game this year. None of the tributes or financial windfalls would happen without Jeter’s approval. The Red Sox will offer him one last tribute and Jeter will take some swings and head off to a very comfortable retirement. That’s his prerogative, but not until September 29th.