By Mike Harrington
So I was in a meeting this afternoon when the news came out about Derek Jeter's Facebook post heard 'round the baseball world. This is going to be it for the Yankees captain. The 2014 season will be his final season in pinstripes. Here's what's going through my mind right now:
The Decision: It seems like it's time. Jeter will make $12.5 million this year in the final year of his deal and it seems like the Yankees would be loathe to pay him big money again, as he will turn 41 by the 2015 season. Who knows how he'll be this year in the wake of last season's injuries. Early reports from his Florida workouts have been encouraging. But this is still mid-February.
The memories: I've been pretty fortunate to be in the house for a lot of great Jeter moments. Way back in April, 1996 at then-Jacobs Field in Cleveland, I covered his first Opening Day and his first big-league home run. From a crazy night during the 2001 World Series, I can report old Yankee Stadium shook when his "Mr. November" home run won Game Three against Arizona.
Bud Speaks: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has just issued a statement on Jeter's announcement that reads: "In the 21-plus years in which I have served as Commissioner, Major League Baseball has had no finer ambassador than Derek Jeter. Since his championship rookie season of 1996, Derek has represented all the best of the National Pastime on and off the field. He is one of the most accomplished and memorable players of his -- or any -- era.
“Derek is the kind of person that generations have emulated proudly, and he remains an exemplary face of our sport. Major League Baseball looks forward to celebrating his remarkable career throughout the 2014 season.”
The Farewell Tour: I was wondering if the reserved Jeter did not want a public retirement so he wouldn't have a Rivera-style farewell tour. Here's hoping he liked what he saw last season because that's what's going to happen at every stop. And Selig's statement certainly means some sort of ceremony at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis and likely the World Series as well. Just as was done for Mariano last year.
The Core Four & A-Rod: Jeter is the last one standing after last year's retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Strangely enough, this decision ensures he will never play with Alex Rodriguez again either. A-Rod, of course, is suspended for this season and Jeter would be retired when he comes back in 2015.
The videos: What will we see replayed the most this season? The Jeter Flip in 2001 against Oakland? The "Mr. November" home run? The dive into the stands behind third base to catch that foul ball against the Red Sox?
The schedule: The Yankees open the season April 1 in Houston. After that, they come to Toronto for three games to open the Blue Jays' home schedule April 4-5-6. Jeter's final home opener in the Bronx will be April 7 against the Orioles. His last home game will also be against the Orioles, on Sept. 25. And his last regular season game will come, in all places, at Fenway Park on Sept. 28.
Up-close looks for WNY fans: In addition to the April series listed above, the Yankees are also in Toronto June 23-24-25, and Aug. 29-30-31. This is a very rare season where they don't play in Rogers Centre in September. They have a four-game set in Cleveland July 7-8-9-10.
Destination Cooperstown: Jeter will become eligible for the Hall of Fame class of 2020. With Mariano Rivera lined up for 2019, those are going to be back-to-back wild weekends in Cooperstown.