Teemu Selanne had his swan song season this year with the Anaheim Ducks as fans around the league lauded the veteran in their arenas for his amazing career and the class with which he played the game. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is receiving a similar treatment as he plays his last year in MLB, and rightfully so.
Having said that, the farewell tours have been vastly different due to the way each player was treated in their sport’s respective midseason celebration. As Selanne dominated the Olympics at age 42, Jeter needed some help to make his last All-Star Game one that he got to have his “moment”.
Despite playing a somewhat limited role with the Ducks this season, Selanne dominated on the international stage in Sochi when the NHL season halted for the Games. Leading Finland to a bronze medal in last international appearance of his illustrious career, Selanne was named MVP of the Olympics. Despite being the oldest player in the tournament, he didn’t need other players to “give” him anything; he stole the stage and in it created his own moment. The same can’t be said for Jeter.
Leading off the All-Star Game, Jeter was given a pitch to hit from St. Louis Cardinals‘ ace Adam Wainwright that No. 2 promptly turned into a double. Wainwright (possibly sarcastically) said he “grooved” the pitch so Jeter would have a chance to hit it. The debate on whether the MLB All-Star Game “matters” will rage on until the end of time, but the bottom line is it determines home-field advantage in the World Series, so for those two teams, yes it does matter.
While both Selanne and Jeter epitomized class and “doing it the right way” throughout their careers, the ways they were treated on their biggest stages show the stark contrast between hockey and baseball. Wainwright “respected” Jeter enough to give him his moment, and the best players in the world respected Selanne enough to compete their best against him.
The differences in respect and ridiculous unwritten rules show why baseball is feigning in popularity among young people and why hockey is on the upswing, particularly in the Sunbelt. That trend won’t be changing anytime soon.