Column: Oh captain, my captain!

I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from an acute case of Jeterian fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Red Sox fan, but I’ve admired and respected Derek Jeter since he came up to the big leagues. He’s been an all-time great, a truly dedicated competitor and, for 20 years, he’s been everything you could ask for in the true face of baseball.

And I can’t wait until he plays his final game.Live Mike

I’ll miss The Captain, sure, but what I will not miss is the extended farewell tour that kicked off in earnest during All Star Weekend.

We’ve seen this before. Last year in fact, when Jeter’s longtime teammate and fellow member of the Core Four, Mariano Rivera, retired. When the Yanks went on the road toward the end of the season, every team around the league sent Rivera off with some sort of ceremony and a parting gift—surfboards, paintings and chairs made from broken bats.

Now, I thought some of the farewell stuff was handled very well last year. Like Mo’s goodbye from the Red Sox crowd at Fenway. It was a unique chance for the Yankees bitter rivals and the great closer to express thanks for the memories—both good and bad—through the years.

But teams like the Astros holding their own farewells? There’s no history there. It’s just a tiresome photo opportunity.

Now, we get ready to take on round two; this time for No. 2.

With the unveiling of the new Nike spot called Re2pect, which depicts several luminaries doffing their caps to Jeets as he settles into the batter’s box, this week, my Facebook feed has become inundated with people posting the video, recounting their own memories of the class and grace with which Jeter went about his business.

Ordinarily, I’m a sucker for emotional sports commercials. The NHL ad that replays clips of Stanley Cup winners overcome with emotion and unable to speak about the thrill of winning sports’ greatest trophy gets me every time. Heck, I even teared up at an Applebee’s commercial in which a retiring basketball coach is honored by the staff of his local chain restaurant.

Unfortunately for me, my fraternity brothers got wind of this and it has been a running joke among us for the past 10 years or so.

But I can’t get misty-eyed about the Jeter ad because I know what’s coming.

Over two more months of the circus, the nostalgic ESPN highlights, radio hosts waxing poetic about the accomplishments of the Yankee great. By the time Jeter’s run finally ends, I might be too sick of hearing about The Captain to even care anymore.

Then again, I got to that point last year. Call it cynicism overload. But when Jeter and Pettitte walked out onto the field to take Rivera out of the game—and the stoic closer broke down in the embrace of his longtime teammates—that cynicism was completely washed away. It was a simple, dignified and heart-warming way to say goodbye to a man who had been a hero to so many.

I’m sure Jeter will get his moment, and I’m sure I’ll be glued to the screen just like I was last year.

Just don’t forget to wake me up when it happens.

Follow Mike on Twitter, @LiveMike_Sports

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.