Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Till It's Gone

As Derek Jeter's farewell season inexorably winds down it may be instructive to stop for a moment and examine the sporting world's landscape.

In spite of near universal admiration and outpourings of love, good will and sentiment, there are always a few amongst the crowd that claim that the "Goodbye Tour" is way out of proportion, has taken focus off the team, and may have hurt the playoff prospects of the Yankees, who are increasingly unlikely to qualify for the playoffs this year.

These murmurs of discontent, typically espoused by the most dyed-in-the-wool Yankee haters, has never been able to get much traction. Regardless of arcane statistics, what a baseball fan sees with their own eyes reveals the truth of the greatness of Derek Jeter and his accomplishments. As the curtain comes down on his triumphant career, let's take a brief peek at what we have to look forward to after this baseball season ends.

In the NBA, the Donald Sterling debacle turned out to be only the first of a series of odious adventures of sports team owners. Now, the owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Bruce Levenson, has come forward with his own take on racism, and is now exploring selling his team a la Sterling. He'll likely make a tidy profit, as Sterling did, but his worth as a human being has been decimated, as has Sterling.

The NFL is mired in another in a long line of player controversies. Ray Rice, now suspended indefinitely for domestic abuse, is just the latest example of NFL players misbehaving. From drug use, gun charges, and bullying, the NFL should more likely partner with various rehabs and law enforcement groups rather than Nike or John Deere.

Let's not forget those fun loving NFL owners either. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has entered into his very own sex scandal. Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder continues to defend the racist name of the team with Newspeak that George Orwell would be proud of. Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts owner has his own drug scandal to attend to. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti "apologizes" for defending Ray Rice for knocking out his fiance.

None of these stories can in any way whatsoever be classified as "feel good". Why do we watch sports anyway, but to escape the sludge that is the daily grind? Nowadays, that escape is less and less available.

As for the Yankees, next year will begin the post-Jeter era. It will also mark the return of Alex Rodriguez from his year long PED suspension. With a player as divisive and controversial as A-Rod, next year promises to be grim as the press and many fans will be poised to pounce on Rodriguez for anything that goes wrong, even as the team continues to try to rebuild. It won't be pretty.

So don't mind me as I savor the last games of Derek Jeter, and be patient as I try to take it all in for the last time. There won't be many more feel good stories around these parts for a long while.

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