NEW YORK – Whatever the Cubs may have planned for Derek Jeter when the Yankees visit Wrigley Field next month, you got the sense that the iconic shortstop wouldn’t want anything to do with it.
“I don’t like the phrase ‘farewell tour,’” Jeter said. “This is my last season. I’m not going around shaking hands and kissing babies and things like that. We’re trying to win. This is my last year. I have a job to do. I’ve always taken the approach that I’ve had a job to do.”
Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” rang out from the Yankee Stadium sound system twice on Wednesday in The Bronx. After Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Cubs in Game 1, Michael Pineda made sure they got shutout again, this time 2-0.
Jeter’s tunnel vision has allowed him to last almost two decades in New York, winning five World Series rings and keeping his reputation intact, even with Page Six and TMZ tracking him.
Jeter celebrated four championships before his 27th birthday, and that 2009 title seems like forever ago in Yankee years. So the idea of 105 years and counting…
“Can I imagine it? No. I heard about it, but it’s kind of hard to relate,” Jeter said. “(There are) frustrations, but the Cubs have had some good teams there. It just goes to show you it’s difficult to win a championship. They’ve had some big teams that have gotten close, but it’s difficult to do. I don’t want to say you feel sorry for them, because we’re trying to win, but…”
Jeter does think Starlin Castro has a bright future – “I’ve heard a lot of good things about him” – but didn’t really remember meeting the Cubs shortstop at the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Jeter and Castro did get a chance to say hi during Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Jeter doesn’t think about the next generation of shortstops, maybe because he can still see Cal Ripken Jr. in his mind. For players like Castro – and Cubs prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant – Jeter is the blueprint for the way he’s handled everything on and off the field.
“I remember coming up in an All-Star Game with Cal,” Jeter said. “He was one of the guys that I looked up to when I was younger. I was a little too timid to speak to him and approach him. So you never view yourself as that way.”
Jeter, who's been dealing with a quad issue and went 1-for-5 in Game 2, watched the Cubs on television while growing up in Michigan. These Cubs are now 4-10 and who knows what their record will look like by the time the Yankees (9-6) come to the North Side on May 20-21. Jeter will know the right thing to say when the reporters surround him at Wrigley Field.
“It’s fun because they have so much history in that franchise,” Jeter said. “Chicago’s a great baseball town, especially with the Cubs. Yeah, it should be fun.”