Derek Jeter didn’t have a press conference today. No, it was called a “media availability”. There wasn’t a written statement or family present or anything that really signified an official retirement conference. Basically, a Q&A between reporters and the Captain, something he alluded to being in good faith that the media will then let him have the season to play and do what he loves best — win.
It didn’t really feel like one of those press conferences we’ve seen before from his Core Four partners-in-crime. It was just Jeter almost completely re-stating what he said in his Facebook post last week. He’s fine; he’s healthy; he wants to play as many games as possible this year; he has other aspirations after baseball that he’s ready to start pursuing (after this season, though); and he really wants to focus on playing the rest of the season and not have to answer a million continuous questions about his decision to retire at the end of the 2014 season.
You can read the full transcript of the “media availability” here. And the full Q&A video is below:
Jeter’s original decision and announcement has elicited mostly supportive responses from fans, players, coaches, executives, and reporters across the league, and today seemed to continue the accolades.
After a clearly un-Jeter-like 2013 season, playing only 17 games, 2014 is shaping up to be a much better season for both Jeter and his team, something he clearly desires to remind everyone is what he’d prefer to think about. Jeter knows what it means to be part of a team, so much so that he practically dismissed the team that was just hanging out to watch his media event. It should be noted that no player made a move for the door; they, like everyone else, didn’t want to miss a moment of the event.
I do think back to Rivera’s pre-season press conference though. He mentioned that he only had a few bullets left in the tank to throw, and he felt that 2013 was going to be it. There is a minor echo of that in Jeter’s sentiment, more along the lines of coming to the reality of “time” and how limited a player’s career really is in the span of a lifetime. Though he believes he has more than a year left to play in him, it’s very telling that he’d prefer to go out on top and on his own terms. And that should say a lot to up-and-coming players who have grown up knowing nothing but Jeter on the field. Professional athletic careers are just a small part of one’s life, so when you get someone like Jeter who’s played 23 seasons for one team (including his minor league days), it’s an exception. But still, he’s only turning 40, which may be old in baseball, but still very young in life.
And I think that’s what the whole “event” today has really reminded people. Fans and the media often only see the players as players, maybe sometimes forgetting they have real lives and real dreams that aren’t baseball related just like everyone else. Sure, baseball has been so much a part of the lives of players that it’s hard to ever really completely divorce yourself from the game you love. Which may be why you see so many players become coaches, managers, color commentators, spokesmen, special assistants, or even executives. I guess the world that watched the young kid from Michigan (who became the dynamic Rookie of the Year in 1996 and World Champion) is now going watch what the man from Florida (who became a baseball legend in his 20 seasons with the Yankees and won 5 rings, and hopefully 6) to see how he will further impact his world through his foundation and through whatever dreams may come.