DEREK JETER AND JUST WATCHING THE GAME

In case you missed it, Derek Jeter is retiring.

You would have to have been in Yemen for the last six months to not be aware of the six-month retirement party that Major League Baseball threw for Jeter, who is finishing up his 20th year with the New York Yankees.

Why is there so much love for Jeter?

He’s a Yankee and for millions of people in North America, that is reason enough to hate him.
He had a great career but he’s not going to be any Top 25 Players of All Time lists.

Maybe he’s beloved by fans and the media because he’s a throwback. Twenty years in the number one media market in the world and the worst you can say about him is that he dated some really, really good looking women.

No ugly divorces.(He was never married.)
No sexual assaults.
No steroids.

He’s humble and polite, which sets him apart from way too many stars in too many sports. Remember Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks using his live, on-the-field Super Bowl post game interview to pound his chest, look into the camera and declare himself the best cornerback in the world?

That got him on Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

In 2014, over the top is the way to go.

I wrote a book called “Just Watch The Game” a good portion of which is dedicated to pointing out how, in sports today, the game seems to get lost in the surrounding hype and stupidity.

Most fans seem to have become fans of being fans.

Tailgaters show up at 6 a.m. for games that start at 1 p.m.

You’re no longer a Steelers fan or a Packers fan. You’re a member of Steelers or Packers “Nation.”

Grown men dress like boys, wearing the authentic game jersey of their heroes, who are often young enough to be their sons.

That, of course, leads to fights, in which grown men wearing opposing jerseys, beat themselves within an inch of their lives.

There was a lovely scene at last Sunday’s Cardinals-49ers game in Phoenix, when two guys wearing 49ers jerseys were set upon by decked out Cardinals fans. Maybe you’ve seen the video of them tumbling down the blood-stained, concrete stairs.

Jeter’s predecessors on the great Yankees teams of the ‘50s and ‘60s were hated by people in every city they visited. But fans back then seemed to have some perspective, not to mention a dash of maturity.

They were there, first and foremost, to just watch the game.

They came dressed as regular human beings and didn’t feel obligated to get liquored up for five hours before the first pitch and go looking for someone wearing a Yankees cap to beat up.
Of course, the farewell party for Jeter was over the top, but you can’t blame him for that. It’s just the world we live in.

That’s why the Pirates pack goggles to wear during the champagne spraying celebration for clinching a wild card spot.

Jeter’s a throwback to the time when a team had to, you know, win something before having a champagne party.

But why not break out the bubbly and cheapen every pennant- winning celebration that preceded you when the team can sell the bottles for $50?

That’s what the empty bottles will be selling for next week. And they will be authenticated by Major League Baseball.

If that’s a little too pricey for you, how about a cork for 15 bucks?

This is nothing new. Amazon has an empty champagne bottle left over from the Yankees’ 2010 ALDS celebration available for only $160. If you want the cork, you’re on your own.

But don’t let anybody tell you that fans are taking this stuff too seriously.

Just watch the game, indeed.