I'm not much of a sports fan. I really like tennis and I really love the Brooklyn Nets, but I was never a baseball fanatic. That said I have always admired the romance of the game and am still a huge fan of Ken Burn's Baseball documentary. From across an ocean, I became quite misty-eyes as I watched New York's own Derek Jeter say good-bye to Yankee Stadium and a crowd of adoring New Yorkers by doing the thing that only New Yorkers could DEMAND from him, play like a champion.
Being a sports star on a New York City team is a cruel fate. There is really no good side. If you play poorly or let New Yorkers down, there is no mercy, you are torn limb from limb, game-in and game-out. "YOU FUCKING SUCK A-ROD!" I was at a game where A-Rod was booed by a whole stadium for every single at bat. It could have burned the skin off of his back. In New York, you deliver or you get the fuck out.
If you're playing well, you're a God but the city OWNS you, as it has owned Jeter for the past 20 seasons. Your success isn't yours, it's ours and we hate second place. Jeter rose to that, he brought the city five championships. Off the field, he projected control and poise, we all knew that he knew what was expected of him. We also all knew that he would never let us down.
Jeter deserves this golden moment. He played his heart out for us. He led his team and his fans with a grace and a composure that is rarely seen. My favorite part of Yankees games that I attended was seeing him stand at attention for every hit, for every play, clapping and cheering his teammates, accepting defeat with grace, but always, always, always driving towards victory.
New York's Captain will be missed.