Only once in a lifetime can people say they were truly surrounded by greatness on the baseball diamond. At the end of this upcoming MLB season, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will retire once and for all. Spending 20 years in professional baseball with the same organization is a rarity these days, especially for someone as important an athlete like Jeter to the Yankees. Whether you love the Yankees or despise them, one thing is for sure; Jeter always was the perfect example of how to be a true professional on and off the field. He always cared about the team, the game, the fans and of course the victories. Let’s face it, when it matters most, the Yankees are always known for being a winning organization not just in professional baseball but all across the sports world. Jeter has for the past two decades been known as the face of the Yankees.
When you mention the word “Yankees” to baseball enthusiasts, you hear about players like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and of course Jeter himself since one day he will also be etched in the professional baseball hall of fame. Now with Jeter leaving the game for good, who will become the next face of the franchise for years to come?
Enter Masahiro Tanaka.
The Yankees went to great lengths to secure Tanaka to make sure his major league debut was in wearing pinstripes. Now that he’s in town, Tanaka has some major shoes to fill. Not trying to say he should immediately go after trying to chase the legacy of Jeter but rather just be himself. It’s all about him being the potential superstar he is tagged to be and creating his own resume of greatness with the Yankees. Since Tanaka is ready to make his major league debut in a matter of weeks, he will spend the rest of the year adjusting to everything around him including precious moments with Jeter. It also gives him a huge opportunity to absorb as much as he can from the living legend to learn things you can’t put a price on.
Jeter retiring truly gives hope to Tanaka to not only learn from one of the best but to also become the next new face of the franchise. Too bad a player like Robinson Cano couldn’t learn about this next important phase in Yankees history. Bolting for the big money contract instead of loyalty, the former Yankees second baseman missed a glorious opportunity to be the next face of the franchise with Jeter retiring. We all understand why he left since everyone has different priorities in life, but one lesson we all learn with time is that money isn’t everything.
One day Cano will regret turning his back on the organization when it really needed him most. Jeter at any point of his career could have easily left for the money, but he understands the meaning of family. He believes in the philosophy of being humble and doing what is right for the benefit of the bigger picture — the team — regardless of something as meaningless as money since Cano already made enough to survive these days.
Tanaka will learn these attributes and many more thanks to Jeter since we all know he’ll be leaving lasting impressions for quite some time after his departure. If Tanaka lives up to his expectations, he truly will create a brand new legacy to complement the legendary one Jeter will leave behind. Make no mistake about it; Tanaka will indeed be a special kind of player.
In the end, Tanaka is ready to not only take professional baseball by storm but also do his very best to impersonate Jeter by contributing to the Yankees’ 28th championship title.