Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jeter hurting over loss of his friend the Boss

Derek Jeter doesn't usually show emotion in public so it was obvious that he was hurting yesterday over the loss of his friend George Steinbrenner.

We're so used to seeing the New York Yankees shortstop in full control of his feelings, but Jeter's eyes were red and he got teary several times when talking about his unusually close relationship with the Boss. The Yankees Captain got to see Steinbrenner in moments that the rest of us will never know about, got a chance to have a personal friendship with him that not many people had.

Jeter was the only guy who could get away with mercilessly teasing the Boss, as he did on Opening Day when he demanded Steinbrenner take off his Ohio State ring (Jeter is a Michigan guy) and put on the new World Series championship ring he and Joe Girardi just bestowed on the Boss. Jeter was planning to visit Steinbrenner in Tampa during the All-Star break. Unfortunately, Jeter never got a chance to say goodbye to his friend and his heartbreak over that was written all over his face.

Jeter is fiercely protective of Steinbrenner's legacy, calling him the best owner in baseball, and I expect that to grow even stronger. The Captain has long believed that Steinbrenner belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame and I expect him to mount a long, aggressive, but quiet campaign to ensure the Yankees owner gets in. Coming from Jeter, a popular future Hall of Famer himself, it will have a lot of weight.

But Jeter's thoughts were elsewhere yesterday. Given his obvious devastation, I give him a lot of credit for making it through his All-Star appearance in one piece. But there's no question that Steinbrenner’s death is very painful for him right now. The Yankee Captain can often seem like a larger-than-life figure, just like his Boss. But for one day, Jeter was just like the rest of us, just a guy who lost his good friend.

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