Friday, April 3, 2009


Before anything else, let it be known that while it's been a rather challenging two-week period, it has been worthwhile in many aspects.

Without going too deep into a non-sports topic, I have walked away from my recent civil service with a greater respect and understanding of the judicial system. Jury duty is a nuisance as it is a forced interruption into twelve independent and relatively unconnected lives.

It requires that each participant does more than just show up and collect a check, though there have been people who have done just that.

It requires that each participant consider more than the physical and verbal evidence (read back of testimony, for example), but to consider the intangible evidence such as body language and the words left unsaid.

Most importantly, it requires that no matter what prejudices and experiences each juror has with the legal system, (s)he must be as open-minded and fair towards both sides of a conflict.

Trying to meet all of those tasks is easier for some than others. It is admittedly a challenge that is far easier in theory than in practice, yet I can say that regardless of the outcome, myself and my fellow jurors made the best efforts. That’s all anyone – the judge, prosecution, defense or the citizens themselves – can ask for.

And now, for the topic du jour.

It’s supposed to have been an important (albeit, rainy) day in New York baseball history as both new stadiums will be unveiled to the public for the first time with their primary tenants. After batting practice, testing the dirt and signing some autographs last night at the new Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter talked to the media about his first impressions about the park. He also talked a bit about the anticipation of the Stadium’s first, being that he was the first to get a hit – a home run, apparently – in the building.

Yet, as asked by my editor, an article for this week’s New York Beacon (75 cents at select newsstands in New York City) discusses when he might get his last hit in pinstripes.
The likelihood that Jeter will be anything other than a Yankee – at least to this writer – is nil, unless one of two things happen. Either the team decides to show financial restraint and somehow decides to offer him an incentive-laden deal or the team believes that they can use a stronger arm on the left side of the infield. Yet, considering that Jeter is the Joe DiMaggio of this Yankee era both on and off the diamond, a divorce such as this could be far more embarrassing and heart-attack inducing to the fans than the Joe Torre debacle of 2007, the Billy Martin firings and George Steinbrenner’s feud with Dave Winfield combined.

Or maybe everyone will come to grips with the inevitable; there’s going to be a new guy between second and third some day. The question isn’t who so much as it is a question of when.

The Jeter Watch started recently as he will be a free agent after next season; a 35-year old shortstop whose defensive abilities have been criticized nonstop for a number of years, while his Hall of Fame offense will compel some team outside of the northeast corridor to make an obscenely rich contract offer.

While writing the Beacon piece, I couldn’t help but to think of how hard it’s going to be for the first After Jeter shortstop.

In fact, I couldn’t help but to conjure up the name Pete Myers.

If you can’t remember that name, Chicago Bulls fans might help you. He was the starting shooting guard after Michael Jordan retired in 1993. Myers wasn’t a bad player at all, he just wasn’t Mike.

Now, this isn’t saying that Jeter, whose marketability has grown over the past few seasons, is in the realm of Mike. Yet, at least within a team has storied as the Yankees, his eventual departure will cast a rather large shadow over those who will follow him.

This isn’t anything new. You can’t expect a franchise to suddenly fold when one of its most revered players (if not the most) calls it a career. However, when certain players walk away from the games, you can only hope that the fan base and management they leave behind are rather patient and welcoming.

Otherwise, you have an unsettling period as endured last spring and summer in Green Bay.

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