This baseball season, we are faced with the prospect of the last year of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. When Jeter first put on a Yankees uniform, the world was a profoundly different place.
As Jeter was leading the Yankees to the 1996 World Series championship while winning the rookie of the year award, we were still reading newspapers. We still wrote letters. And only Gordon Gekko had a cell phone. As for Jeter, he played in Yankee Stadium, which at the time had yet to be bulldozed and was still the baseball cathedral where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle once performed their exploits.
Receding hairline aside, the thirty-nine-year-old Jeter still looks exactly like his twenty-one-year-old self. In a chemically addled era, he was never accused or even suspected of taking performance-enhancing drugs. His body never ballooned with steroids. His injuries never healed with suspicious quickness. In fact, in our age of hypercynical fandom, Jeter may be the only person who would shock us if he was revealed to have sought a chemical edge. All Jeter did, throughout the years, was compile hits and play solid shortstop. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer with five World Series rings, and the only thing really debatable about him is the quality of his defense.
Maybe it was his matinee good looks or perhaps . . .