Derek Jeter did not want this to be a retirement press conference

Rich Mancuso

Derek Jeter will be missed by the New York Yankees and their fans when his wonderful career concludes this season.  Others will also miss his presence, including members of the media. And there are many reasons why the media will miss Jeter.

Derek Jeter was not a friend to the dozens who followed and chronicled his career on the field the past 20 years, rather we refereed to Jeter as the professional who answered every question and never ducked an issue.  He appreciated this end of the baseball business, and that was displayed again Wednesday at his retirement press conference down in Tampa Florida.

This was the start of Jeter’s retirement press tour. Time and time again, he will answer similar questions as he makes the final rounds around ballparks the Yankees visit.  He was patient and understanding.

Then, there was this comment showing his concern to the media: “You can go off to work if you have to.” A few seconds after commenting about his retirement decision, Jeter momentarily took notice of some reporters leaving the pavilion at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter once again, as he has been so accustomed to doing, did not want to be the center of attention. He was the story, and he will be this Yankees 2014 season. But, Jeter also is aware that the media has a job to do.  With those words, to those few leaving the press area, Jeter was handling business.

This is spring training, about the New York Yankees quest and hopeful return to the post season in October. This day, according to Jeter, should not be about him. However, that is the side of Derek Jeter that we have all come to know. It was again, more about the Yankees and not about Derek Jeter.

His comments were to the point:

“I feel the time is right. There are other things I want to do. Physically I feel great and I look forward to playing a full season.  The thing that means the most to me is to be remembered as a Yankee. Yeah, I’m emotional. It’s kind of difficult because we still have a season to play.”

He did not laugh. Jeter did not cry. He said it was not a retirement press conference.  “I have feelings,” he said.

And there have been times when we knew Derek Jeter had feelings. There have been the many times, and many more this final season when reporters await him by his dressing quarters. At the old and new Yankee Stadiums, the proper answer would always come from the Yankee captain.

Then there was this comment, so typical of what we always get to hear when Derek Jeter speaks.

“Every time the Yankees win,” he said about his favorite career moment. That had to be the toughest answer Wednesday, but one expected from Jeter. And if everything follows the Yankees illustrious history, the Yankees biggest win will come with a sixth World Series ring in the final season for Derek Jeter.

He said, “I think it would have been more of a distraction if I did not mention it,” referring to his retirement announcement on his social media Facebook page last week.

The point is, Derek Jeter has never been a distraction. He has done everything right as a New York Yankee and playing in the New York spotlight, well he handled that like a true professional.

He especially handled it right with the media. He will be missed. The good news is we get to enjoy watching Derek Jeter play one more season and like he said, baseball is fun to play.

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