Wallace Matthews, who covers the New York Yankees for ESPN, was asked yesterday about Derek Jeter's recent announcement that 2014 would be his last season with the team. He replied that he didn't see it coming, believing Jeter to be one of those guys who would stay on too long.
I'm not sure I would agree with that assessment, but all day yesterday, while the sports talk guys were blathering on and on about this, not one guy stated the obvious.
Which is not to dismiss Jeter -- he is arguably one of the finest players of the past generation, even more remarkable for his off the field restraint; not once in the past twenty years was there any kind of 'story' about him in the tabloids. Jeter is likely to have a good season, and will hopefully go out near -- if not at -- the top of his game.
The timing of his announcement, however, is perfect, given recent moves by the franchise. For one, Robinson Cano is off to the Mariners, only because he got a better deal. Too bad for him, as he was in position to become the next leader in the Yanks' clubhouse.
And let us not forget that Alex Rodriguez will be away all of this season. What a relief for the team, to have a season with no distractions from this gifted narcissist.
Can you imagine how things would be for Jeter and the team in February 2015, when A-Rod returns after his one year suspension? What a horrible distraction it will be for the team, dealing with all of the overblown media nonsense.
So yes -- Jeter's timing is not only perfect, it's obvious. He gets to have an A-Rod-free year, going from city to city, receiving encomiums everywhere he goes. And remember all of the accolades given to Rivera at the end of last season? That will be nothing compared to what comes to Jeter. Mariano got a rocking chair; Jeter will probably have buildings, streets and highways named in his honor.
And he richly deserves all of the attention accorded to him. He is a great player, a superb shortstop, and a really classy guy in an age when we have seen so few of them.