Derek Jeter's retirement not only marks the end of a career that included 13 All-Star game appearances, one All-Star MVP trophy, over 3,000 hits (10th all-time and he could climb up to sixth) five Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, one World Series MVP trophy and five championships, but it also marks the end of an era of lure in the illustrious history of the New York Yankees.
Jeter's farewell season is also a farewell to an era that began in 1995 and will conclude next fall when he plays his last game. An era that was defined by winning, championships, triumphs, success or any other synonym you want to throw in there.
It was an era that I grew up in and was spoiled by, like a wealthy teenager who gets a Bentley upon earning his driver's license. An era that included 15 playoff appearances, 13 AL East titles and no finish lower than third (last season and 2008), nine World Series appearances and five championships.
Maybe spoiled is even an understatement.
Jeter's last ride is the last ride of the Core Four era, which was given its name by Jeter, Andy Pettitte,
Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, who all came up with the Yankees in the 1995 season.
Posada was the first to leave the game after hitting 275 home runs, 1,065 RBI, five All-Star selections and five Silver Slugger awards. Pettitte called it quits in 2011, but came back for two more seasons in the Bronx before leaving for good in 2013. He retired with 256 wins and was regarded as one of the most clutch postseason pitchers in baseball history.
The man who dominantly closed out so many innings, games, wins and championships during a dominant era was the most recent departure. Rivera retired atop the all-time saves list with 652. He had a career WHIP of 1.0 and didn't allow 1,000 hits in over 1,200 innings thrown.
Each of these players brought their own spin to an excellent era, but none of them had such a magnitude like Jeter did.
While Jeter heads off into the sunset, the Yankees enter a mysterious stage for a franchise that has been structured on a foundation of dominance. Not only do they have to replace an excellent shortstop, they have to replace an emblem of a culture of greatness.
The Yankees are not foreign to replacing legends, just visit Monument Park for evidence of that. What makes Jeter different than the 19 other players who have their numbers retired is what he meant to the sport. In an era plagued by steroids and cheating, Jeter brought a ray of hope in the pure nature of the game.
Every Yankees fan has thought about it: can you imagine anybody else at shortstop, besides Jeter? Not only will the franchise need to answer that question, it will have to answer how to resuscitate and replace a legendary core group of players.