Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Open Letter to Didi Gregorious; or, Just Play

Dear Sir Didi Gregorius,
I hear you are going to be playing shortstop for the New York Yankees in 2015. Wow, that must be exciting. You probably know a little about the guy who played there before you. Derek Jeter was pretty beloved around here. I imagine that as you gear up for Spring Training a lot of people are going to give you advice for how to replace Jeter. Some of it will be good, some bad, some terrible; hopefully, you will know better than to worry about replacing Jeter and instead focus on being a good shortstop. Playing shortstop at Yankee Stadium is going to difficult enough without constantly worrying about What Would Jeter Do (WWJD). But, filtering through the noise can be a challenging task, so let me, as a long-time fan of The Jeter and The Yankees do my best to help you out.
Some people are going to tell you to "be like" Jeter. Jeter was the Captain and team leader. He was the one everyone turned to, so it would be nice to be that guy. But, this is not good advice. There was only one Jeter. He was able to be affable and yet aloof, charming yet distant, he was a master of seizing the moment, and the fans and teammates adored him. Those are all good things, and it would be easy to want to try to do that, too. But, you don't have to start practicing jump throws or fist pumps to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. You don't have to hit clutch homeruns or somehow be positioned exactly in the right place at the right time to save errant throws and playoff dreams. You don't even have to dive into the stands to catch foul balls, although personally, I do enjoy that kind of hustle. Instead focus on fielding the ball and making good clean throws to first. In the words of Jeter, "don't bounce it, they'll boo ya." It's simple, play hard, play well. And if you want to date super models and Miss Universes, well that's a personal decision, but certainly not a job requirement.
There will be some who will tell you that the shoes you are stepping into are too big and that you need to grow larger feet. You need to be bigger and better than you are in order to compete with the still warm ghost of the oh-so recently retired icon. But, really, that is unfair. The only shoes you need are your own, and from what I hear your shoes are actually pretty cool ones. That you are an artist, and a Knight, and a shortstop with a pretty good glove and a lot of potential. So, when you step out onto Yankee Stadium to stand in the space where Jeter once stood, remember the fans said goodby to Jeter (a number of times, actually), and Jeter said goodbye to us. He even said goodbye to the ground where your own Sir Didi Gregorius-sized shoes will stand. So, get out there and be you. Be hard working. Be diligent and strong. Be better than Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew, but, most of all be as good as you can be.
A Yankee Fan
What advice would you give Didi Gregorius? What advice would you tell him to listen to? Or to ignore?