Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ode to Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is one of the most well respected players in any sport, of all time. Not just for his greatness on the field, but how he carried himself off the field. This is not an article praising Jeter's greatness in any entity, this is more of a personal reflection on what Derek Jeter and the Yankees have meant to me during my almost 20 years on this earth. This is the opposite of what I have been taught about how to write as a "serious" journalist. I'm going to take off my future sportscaster hat and put on my fan hat for an hour or two. I haven't been able to do that much lately. I have trained myself to analyze every sports situation thoroughly that comes my way. Tonight, it's time to be a 19 year old sports fan and not a student who is scared to death that if everything he writes, tweets, or talks about involving sports isn't perfect that he will not succeed. I was born in 1994, two years after Jeter was drafted and one year before he made his debut. I was named after Yankee great Don Mattingly, so obviously my allegiances to this team goes before birth. Derek Jeter was "The Guy" of my childhood. He was my favorite player and a role model, someone I admired more than anyone. I wanted to be Derek Jeter on the diamond, but once an elbow injury and lack of determination ended my chances at that, I realized I still wanted to be involved in sports. Basically, why i'm writing this I guess. As I grew up there was two constants in my life, the New York Yankees, and Derek Jeter. I could be having the worst day ever and if there was a Yankee game on it made it seemed like nothing else mattered. I first heard the news of Jeter's retirement from my friend Joe Benzi. I got a text saying "NO DEREK DON'T GO" at that moment I knew. I quickly checked twitter and my worst fear had been realized, my favorite player and my role model was retiring after the 2014 season. Admittedly, if I weren't on the way to work, I probably would have started to ball my eyes out. Now I know some of you reading this might think I'm just overacting. "It's not like he died."
"He's just a baseball player."
Some of the responses coming out of your mouth right?. Well as I've illustrated Jeter is more than a baseball player to me. I've tried to be half the man he is. He carries himself the right way, he is confident not cocky, he is a hard worker and puts family first. He is reserved, but when he is needed he will produce. I hope that one day I will have "made it" and by then he will still be involved in the game because being able to interview someone like Derek Jeter is number two on my bucket list. Now I bet you're saying WHAT'S NUMBER ONE?!?!?! Easy, interviewing Don Mattingly. So as I sit here in my basement writing this, I just want to thank Derek Jeter for making my childhood that much better and best wishes in retirement. You have reached the pinnacle of the sports world five times and accomplished so much, inspired millions of kids including myself, and now will be able to have a well deserved summer vacation starting in 2015.

Thank You so much,

Don Matthew Finkle