Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Posted by el duque at 7:10 AM
Consider yesterday in St. Louis. The Cardinals - pretending to have a long and meaningful history with Jeter - presented him with cuff-links, yes, cuff-links, inscribed with the image of Stan Musial, their patron saint. Fine. Ka-Ching. The cuff-links, of course, are the farewell gift version of a fruitcake, or steak knives. I suspect the Cards execs have a crate of them roughly the size of a phone booth, which they bestow upon every sponsor and prospective buyer of a luxury box. But what is the point in honoring Jeter? There was no modern Yankee rivalry, or hardly any interaction, between the Yanks and Cards during Jeter's entire career. They are just giving an obligatory gift, which everybody knows is crap, and they probably figured Jeet already has an iPad. When Springsteen comes to town, do the city fathers give him a Chuck Berry tie-clasp?
And there was another Big Check - $10,000, to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation. Ka-Ching. Thankyouverymuch. Who can find fault a donation to charity? Certainly not me. But isn't there something shady about a sports team giving money to a charity run by one of the wealthiest men in America, whose main function is to shield tax money and provide photo ops? Every star athlete in America - after signing the $100 million deal - sets up his or her foundation. To help the kids. I'm not suggesting these shell games are insincere or phony, but do any of you ever send them money? Hell no. But these baseball teams pretend Jeter's charity is the Salvation Army, and that he is Mother Theresa. He's not. He's a ballplayer.
These going-away tours are a tradition we will eventually despise. In a few years, will we be expected to lavish gifts upon Big Papi and Albert Pujols? Of course. Their teams honored did Jeter, so we will return the favor. When Chase Headley retires, what should we get him? A Rolex watch purchased on Times Square? These farewells are baseball's version of Jeter's legendary gift baskets for one-night stands.
What Jeter deserves in each city is a standing O when he comes to bat, and maybe a chant of his name in the final inning. The speeches, the ceremonies, the gifts? Spare us - and spare Jeter's garage, where they will all end up. Nobody is going to ever sit on a bench made of baseball bats, or wear those ridiculous cowboy boots. I'd rather watch a very special episode of Little House, with loved ones, of course.