Derek Jeter is retiring after the 2014 season and baseball will go on. Don't get me wrong, Jeter was a great player but in my lifetime I have had the honor of seeing many great players.
So I started thinking about exactly who I had seen. Cal Ripken Jr, Ken Griffey Jr, Ozzie Smith, Nolan Ryan, Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn, Greg Maddux, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs and this is just from my memory. I am sure I have forgotten some.
If you go back before I was born you have Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and the great Jackie Robinson, who not only played the sport but changed the world, just to name a few.
To say that Derek Jeter is the greatest player of all time is not only doing a disservice to all those players who came before him but it is short sighted and silly. Jeter is a great player but there were a hundred great players before him and there are young players who have the potential to be as good or better than Jeter. Did Jeter change baseball? No. Has he made it fun for a generation of people who are casual fans or die hard Yankee fans, sure. Has he been a pain in the arse for teams for the last decade and a half? Of course.
Baseball is a game of great players and every generation thinks they saw the greatest ever. The greatest thing about baseball, the beauty of the game, really, is how true the game is to it's players. There will always be an amazing play, a great walk-off, or a strikeout king ready to wow the fans and make or break hearts.
The truth is, if you asked me to pick the greatest player of all time, Jackie Robinson would win hands down because of all the 'extra' he had to endure and the class he managed to do it with.
The game will go on without Jeter. It was there before and it will survive after any player retires because of the beauty, grace, passion, excitement, and consistency that the game brings. It is true, honest, and faithful. It is America at it's best.
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