April 6, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (42) talks with shortstop Derek Jeter (2) in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Saying Goodbye to My Sports Childhood


Last week, the Yankees were dealt yet another blow on the homefront when Derek Jeter was placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the season after experiencing continued pain and discomfort in his surgically-repaired ankle. With the news that Jeter is done for the year, there comes another important realization: with the DL classification and an impending retirement for the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter will never play another game together. And with that news, it’s time for an entire generation of Yankees fans- myself included- to say goodbye to our sports childhood.

If you’re a member of the under-25 set, there hasn’t been a time in your life where the starting shortstop hasn’t been Derek Jeter, nor another closer besides Mariano Rivera (outside of last year’s injury). Those championship years? Every series featured an incredible throw or hit or play by Jeter. They always showcased Mo’s ridiculous precision, the final out to another ring and parade down the Canyon on Heroes.

 

There’s been no other combination of sports icons in recent memory that have been so enduring, so successful in their efforts over an intertwined career. Every big moment, every single victory, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have been on the field together.

In  looking back at the teams of my childhood, and all the memories of watching sports, the Core Four were always there: Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Rivera and Jeter. Posada has retired. After coming out of retirement, and crossing the 40-years-old threshold, Pettitte will likely be done after the 2013 season. Mariano will walk away from the game at the end of this season as the greatest closer of all time. Jeter will likely the be only member of those iconic teams of my childhood left next year, and the jury is still out on how the 39-year old will rebound from his injury-riddled 203 season.

 

If this is the end, it has been a wonderful ride. My sports life has been spoiled more than anyone can even fathom: an obscene amount of playoff appearances; seven American League pennants; five world championships; seven World Series appearances. That is just unheard of in sports these days, and yet, myself and entire generation of Yankees fans were able to see all of that, with Jeter and Rivera on the field. These memories will not, however, make saying goodbye any easier to the only players that we have ever know.

 

On some level, we all knew this day was coming. Players do not play forever, things always change. And at the end of this season, we will say goodbye to two of the three remaining members of the Core Four, and our baseball childhood as we know it. So thank you, to the Derek Jeter-Mariano Rivera tandem for some awesome childhood sports memories. Here’s to hoping that the next 18 years will be just as great.

 

 

Tags: New York Yankees

  • ikkf

    It’s a bittersweet time for Yankee fans. As part of the 25+ crowd, I can remember the parade of Bobby Meacham, Alvaro Espinoza, Andy Stankiewicz, Spike Owen, and Tony Fernandez at short before Jeter. Ouch! At closer there was Dave Righetti, who was good but always wanted to go back to being a starter, Eric Plunk, Steve Howe, and Steve Farr before we got to the excellent John Wetteland. It’s amazing how much stability Jeter and Mo and the rest of the Core Four brought to the franchise.

    • Alex Pugliese

      Agreed. It’s been a great run, there’s really no room to complain. Thanks for reading!

  • arth65456

    I agree Alex, going to be tough on September 30 to realize that Enter Sandman won’t be echoing anymore at Yankee Stadium. The instability in the organization has been recognized all season long. I hope with all the comments from Levine and Hal that if they don’t bring back Cano, they better have a plan B because if the commentator below has those kind of players playing for the Yankees, this new stadium is going to be a ghost town.

    • Alex Pugliese

      Plan B is to not put themselves in exactly the situation they are in right now– players past their prime with bloated contracts and years left. The plan is to rebuild. Baseball is going in a different direction, the Yankees have to adapt, too. Thanks for reading.