Monday, August 18, 2014

6 comments Mike Lupica Says Once Derek Jeter Retires the Dynasty Era That Lupica Believes Ended 14 Years Ago Will End

Mike Lupica thinks it's the end of the dynasty era when Derek Jeter retires. Of course Mike Lupica doesn't seem to really think the Yankees have had a dynasty era in 14 years because they have only won 1 World Series in the last 14 seasons. So the idea he believes it's the end of an era that didn't really exist causes me to marvel at him. What I would really like to read Mike Lupica talk about is his salary compared to how his newspaper is having another round of layoffs. Maybe the end of another era at the Daily News would help keep the newspaper in business and prevent future layoffs. Regardless, Lupica is very sad the era he believes ended 14 years ago will end after Jeter retires and I can picture him sadly sitting at the front of his chair on the back porch of his mansion listening to Chris Isaak and thinking he only has a few more fawning Derek Jeter columns to write for the rest of his career. After all, who will carry the old-fashioned Yankees values once Jeter is gone? My question is who carried the old-fashioned Yankees values prior to Jeter? We never get the answer to that question, because as Lupica says to end this column, "there is no one," not after this year.

The Yankees had Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams, and for a time it was as storied a five as the Knicks once had in the old days.

It was Camelot, but then it was ruined by the Yankees signing expensive free agents like A-Rod, Jason Giambi, and Jared Wright (remember that?). You know, the same guys the New York media stated the Yankees HAD to sign in order to keep winning.

Gas was a dollar, everyone mowed their lawn and respected their elders, crime was down, a man's word used to mean something, and a company would treat their employees with dignity. Those were the days.

One by one they all left, and now it is only Jeter left. And when he is gone at the end of this season, the Yankees will go on, the brand of the Yankees will go on, the big business of the Yankees sure will.

But a little bit of Mike Lupica's heart will retire with Derek Jeter.

Oh, we will continue to hear about how the pinstripes and the uniform and the place will transform the new hired guns they bring in.

But it won't be the same because it won't be the good old days. That is until the Yankees start a new dynasty after winning a few World Series and then the tradition of the pinstripes and uniform will retire with the last player from that team. Mike Lupica will then write a column bemoaning the loss of the good old days never to be seen again, until they are.

The Yankees have only had one World Series title over those same 14 years, even as they are constantly treated and covered like some sort of sleeping baseball giant about to rise up and roar again.

Mike Lupica: "The dynasty era of the Yankees retires when Derek Jeter retires in 2014."

Mike Lupica: "The Yankees haven't really been a dynasty since about 2001. It's just been hype around the Yankees since that time."

So the time period Mike Lupica is pining for hasn't existed by his own admission in over a decade. So doesn't that mean the dynasty era for the Yankees really ended shortly after the 90's ended? Just because Jeter was on the team doesn't mean the dynasty continued. I guess it's a better narrative to write that the dynasty era for the Yankees ends with Jeter's retirement. Even if Lupica's own opinion doesn't agree with this position he is taking, it does provide a clean narrative to further elevate Derek Jeter into a status above being a deity. And that's the real goal, to put Derek Jeter on a pedestal until he no longer is just a man, but is a supernatural being capable of anything and everything. Derek Jeter the baseball player has again been overshadowed by the sportswriters who cover him wanting to give him characteristics of that greater than "just" a baseball player. It's a shame.

But once Jeter is gone, there is no one who connects to any of that. There really is no one.

Unless you want to count Joe Girardi as connected to it. Also, few MLB teams have players on their roster that are connected to what the team was like a decade ago. Players come and go so often in the majors, even Andy Pettitte left the Yankees for a while. So I wouldn't expect there to be anyone who connects to the Yankees four World Series titles in the 90's.

It is why the notion that Jeter got too much money in that last contract scrum he had with the Yankees a few years ago was always so chowderheaded, and short-sighted.

So it was smart to pay Jeter for being the last link to a dynasty that hasn't existed for 14 years? That seems to be Mike Lupica's point of view. Get Luis Sojo a contract extension immediately!

You could never properly quantify what Jeter has meant to the brand, and still means.

It turns out Derek Jeter wanted to be quantified in terms of money and the Yankees obliged. Yes, his contributions to the Yankees brand can't be quantified, but when discussing a contract extension there is a quantifiable way to measure what Jeter is worth. It doesn't matter whether the Yankees overpaid or not for that, but giving a player money based on his link to a dynasty in the past is an easy way to waste money on an underperforming player.

Tim Duncan will never be treated or considered the way Jeter has been, like that kind of surpassing and iconic star of this time in American sports. Duncan never had New York, never had the Yankees, never was marketed that way because he frankly didn’t want to be.

These two players are not comparable because Duncan never played in New York and never was marketed the way Derek Jeter was marketed (which doesn't mean Jeter searched for the spotlight or was in any way wanting to be in the spotlight because the narrative is that Jeter is humble). Mike Lupica doesn't see how these two players could be compared in terms of iconic status.

Now Mike Lupica will compare Tim Duncan and Derek Jeter after saying they don't have the same iconic status.

But the two of them are remarkably the same, and not just because they have each won five championships.

Duncan came along in 1997, one year after Jeter became the Yankee starter at shortstop. Only now, after all the winning he has done with the Spurs, he still is part of the Core Three in San Antonio along with Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

It's not really a Core Three like the Yankees had the Core Four. Parker and Ginobili weren't around for every NBA title that Tim Duncan has won with the Spurs. I get what Lupica is trying to prove, but it's still different from the Core Four winning all of the World Series titles together.

The supporting cast in San Antonio, incidentally, has been replenished without spending a fortune year after year — after year — on hired guns.

The financial structure used in the NBA is totally different of that used in the NBA. Namely, there is no salary cap in MLB. If Mike Lupica can't understand this difference then he's even more ignorant and ill-informed then I originally thought he was. The Yankees have a much larger budget they are able to use in order to acquire players, while the Spurs are a slave to the soft cap in the NBA.

You tell me who carries on all the old-Yankee values and traditions at Yankee Stadium once Jeter is gone for good.

Only if you tell me who carried on the old-Yankee values and traditions at Yankee Stadium before Jeter showed up in New York?

Don Mattingly? He never won a World Series and we all know winning World Series titles is part of the Yankee tradition.

Reggie Jackson? I mean, maybe, but I don't think of old-school Yankees values when I think of him.

Thurman Munson? Perhaps that's the best answer I can think of. He last played for the Yankees in 1979 and Jeter didn't come down from heaven to grace us with his presence until 1996. There were 17 years without a Yankee who carried on the old Yankee values and traditions. I think 17 years from now there will be another one. Lupica may be leaning forwards in his rocking chair at that point obnoxiously interrupting the other nursing home residents while arguing over whose turn it is to choose the nightly television show, but simply because no Yankee is present in 2014 that can carry on the old-Yankee values and traditions (and I'm going to need a list of these values and traditions so I can check this future candidate's credentials off...or else this just sounds like useless hyperbole that Mike Lupica is using) doesn't mean in 2017 or 2022 another Yankee won't be carrying on these traditions. Bryce Harper will be a free agent in a few years. Maybe he can do it.

I used to love it when people used to say that Jeter wasn't a vocal leader with the Yankees. It was never words with him, it isn't words now, it was and is the way he went about his business and, along with the Core Four Plus Bernie, and Joe Torre, changed the way people thought and felt about the Yankees, whether they were Yankee fans or not.

This is absolutely true. Prior to 1996 I had no strong feelings about the Yankees, but then post-1996 when every writer was up the Yankees' ass as they won World Series after World Series I began to despise them with every fiber of my soul. Getting to hear about how great Jeter was and how the Yankees were the most perfect team to ever exist (okay, maybe it wasn't stated that way), along with them defeating my favorite team twice in the World Series, changed the way I thought about them. May they rot in Hell. That's the summary of my feelings towards the Yankees post-1996, as compared to indifference prior to that.

The current manager of the team is a good guy. CC Sabathia seemed to embrace the culture before he broke down this way, and the back end of his contract became the pitching version of Alex Rodriguez's.

And who could ever have foreseen that a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 with previous weight issues and 2800 regular season innings on his arm would start to break down as he reached the age of 34? I'm shocked this happen. Of course, if the Yankees didn't re-sign Sabathia then Mike Lupica would be complaining the Yankees can't keep the good pitchers they already have on the roster, because they are too cheap to do so.

We will never know how Robinson Cano's presence and excellence — and the fact that he was actually the first star, homegrown position player since Jeter — would have factored into all of this, because the Yankees chose not to give him 10 years at a time when they gave Jacoby Ellsbury seven.

(Fast forward five years when Mike Lupica is writing a column about Robinson Cano if the Yankees had re-signed him)

"Robinson Cano seems like a nice guy. It's hard to know since he rarely speaks and doesn't seem like much of a presence around the clubhouse. He hustles to first base more than he used to, which is nice for a guy making $24 million per year. He's never embraced the culture, even after signing up to be a Yankee for life. If $240 million can't convince a guy to embrace the culture, then nothing will. The Yankees chose to give him a 10 year contract and now it's become the position player version of CC Sabathia's contract, which was the pitching version of Alex Rodriguez's contract."

Lupica is going to complain no matter what. That's the point.

For now, Jeter gets people to keep coming to the ballpark in numbers commensurate with what the Yankees have drawn in the past, so people can continue operating under the illusion that they are as big and entertaining as ever, when clearly they are not.

And yet again, the dynasty era that Mike Lupica seems to be mourning the loss of after the 2014 season seems to have been lost many years prior to the 2014 season.

But this is the last farewell tour that matters at the Stadium.

(Makes a wanking motion with his hand)

It's the last farewell tour that matters at Yankee Stadium until the next farewell tour that matters at Yankee Stadium. It may not be for 20 years, but there will be another farewell tour and another Yankees that upholds the nameless, description-less idea of what a Yankee really should be. It's just a matter of time and there will be another great homegrown Yankee player. Just as long as they stop trading these homegrown players for guys like Chase Headley.

The dynasty ended a long time ago. Those days are gone, the way the big Yankees who helped Jeter win four World Series in five years are long gone.

So I must ask again, if the dynasty ended a long time ago then how is Jeter's retirement the end of the dynasty era for the Yankees? The dynasty ended with Jeter still on the roster. I know, it's a horrifying thought that goes against all of the deification of Jeter, but it seems to be true.

I also like how Lupica writes "the big Yankees who helped Jeter win four World Series in five years" as if Jeter singlehandedly won those World Series and guys like Rivera, Wetteland, Martinez, Pettitte, Clemens, and Scott Brosius were just along for the ride. Revisionist history is always a fun game to play. It rids the mind of reality and puts the world into the shape the author wants to view that world.

The dynasty effectively ended, as my friend Buster Olney wrote in a book once, with Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks.


The Yankee name will always be treated like the royalty of American sports, properly so. It does better these days than the Celtics or Lakers or Dallas Cowboys.

(Continues making wanking motion with his hand)

The face of that royalty, more than anyone, as much as anybody the Yankees have ever had, has been Jeter.

I'm sure sportswriters wrote this about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig (who I would argue is the face of the Yankees), Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and any number of Yankees who have played for the team through the years.

The Yankees will go on, and will win again. It just won’t be like the winning they got from Jeter and Bernie and Mo, Pettitte and Posada. And Paul O'Neill.

If the Yankees win another World Series while Lupica is still writing for the Daily News he will be the very first to write something like, "This World Series meant more because it was won without the Core Four, without the weight and blessing they brought to the Yankees roster. This World Series victory proved there is life after Jeter and it's even sweeter for that reason." 

The next World Series victory will inevitably be described as better than those won with the Core Four + Bernie. I can almost guarantee it.

There will never again be a time like this. Jeter takes that with him. 

The contest to see which sportswriter can put Derek Jeter on the highest pedestal may have a new contender with Mike Lupica. He's saying that Jeter's time with the Yankees will never be topped. It was the peak of the Yankees organization and his time will never be duplicated in another form. That's some high deification right there.

They can buy a lot at Yankee Stadium, maybe even one more postseason for Derek Jeter.

Which, perhaps not ironically, has contributed to there being fewer homegrown stars and fewer candidates to replace Jeter as the face of the old-Yankees traditions and values. If the Yankees keep trading prospects to contend and get Jeter to another World Series, then that odds of another homegrown star or group of stars coming up through the system diminishes. I'm sure Mike Lupica is too busy yelling on the edge of his chair to realize this.

But when he goes, in all the ways that matter at the Stadium, there is no one.

It does seem like sportswriters are in a contest to see who can make Derek Jeter the biggest deity possible. I'm waiting for the inevitable column directly comparing Derek Jeter to Jesus, to where it's stated Jesus couldn't do some of things that Derek Jeter can do and Jeter can't do some of the things Jesus could do, but they are pretty much the same person. 


Chris said...

Lupica says it was never about words with Jeter. I would contend that it isn't about words since the NY media are more than content to put words into Derek Jeter's mouth for him so they can rationalize whatever narrative they want to be correct.

If I had the time I would love to go through an archive of old Lupica articles because I can't help but feel that Lupica was one of the ones back in 97 saying that Jeter wasn't a vocal enough leader.

Murray said...

I want Jeeter to be popped for roids with every fiber of my being. does this make me an awful person?

franc said...

universal formula for unconditional sportswriter love:
1) be white
2) play for a big market team for the most part of your career
3) don't waste your money on houses, cars, whores and cocaine
4) get married and don't have public affairs
5) be above-average at your position
6) never exhibit any kind of personality
7) retire before you completely break down
8) preferably have love for jesus

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I tried to find the article but couldn't. That does sound like something Lupica would write, because the Yankees didn't win the World Series in 1997 and obviously that means there was something terribly wrong with the team.

Murray, no it doesn't make you an awful person. It makes you a person who probably would enjoy seeing the sports media write about it and enjoying reading the articles either (a) totally forgiving Jeter or (b) talking about how "we" were fooled the whole time about Jeter.

If Jeter did get popped for steroids I think you would see a change of heart from HoF voters about PED users entering the Hall of Fame. Not a huge sudden change, but I'm guessing there would be a slow tide towards letting PED users in after that. Just a guess.

Franc, the funny part about Jeter is he has told so very little about himself. So what happens is the media fills in what they don't know with what they want to believe about him. He's a good teammate and hasn't been arrested so they fill in good characteristics.

It's not known if Jeter spends money on cocaine or whores. He's not married. He's not white. He's breaking down right now if you ask me and I have no idea how he feels about Jesus. You have a point, but the brilliance of Derek Jeter is that he has told the public nothing about him. So he is ascribed characteristics by the media for how they want him to be.

Eric C said...

So is Derek Jeter the Keanu Reeves of baseball? I saw a video about why Keanu was the perfect action star because he has one expression. With no obvious personality it is easy for us to picture ourselves as Keanu Reeves. He has the "neutral mask" face.

I think with Alex Rodriguez it's easy for us to contrast ourselves to him. We wouldn't go shirtless in Central Park or hit 500 foot home runs.

But sportswriters can see themselves as Jeter. I think many sportswriters have that fantasy - they want to be the classy shortstop who hustles and leads by example and dives into the stands to catch a ball.

Heck, even me, it is easier for me to picture myself hitting a bloop single to win a game than a 500 foot home run. It's why as a Mets fan it is easier to imagine myself as David Wright than it is someone like Lucas Duda (though watching Lucas stumble around after a foul ball reminds me of how I played in Little League).

Anyway, the video is here if anyone cares:

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I saw that article too. I am not sure I can see myself as a MLB player at all. I do think sportswriters think if they were an MLB player then they would be like Jeter. Successful, classy and always on the hunt for new brunettes to date.