The Brewers’ 2014 season just got a little more interesting. Besides having to stay competitive in one of baseball’s hardest divisions, now the team has a new problem on its hands — figuring out what to get Derek Jeter.
Last week, Jeter revealed that he would retire following the 2014 season. The early announcement allows Jeter to avoid spending the season answering questions about his future and, shrewdly, moved the Yankees’ season narrative away from A-Rod’s absence. It also means that he will be showered with adulation and parting gifts wherever he goes. And, for the first time since 2005, Miller Park will be one of his destinations.
The Brewers will be hosting the Yankees for a three-game, weekend series May 9-11. The Friday night opener was already worthy of attention due to the Baseball Prospectus event being held in conjunction with the game, with further info and tix available here. It will also be the first time Derek Jeter has played at Miller Park in almost nine years.
In his 20-year career, Derek Jeter has played three games in Miller Park (not including the single AB he took during the 2002 All Star Game) and 13 games at County Stadium. Over 107 career plate appearances against the Crew, Jeter has hit for a .337 AVG/ .890 OPS with 2 HR, 13 RBI, and 11 BB to 18 SO. Out of current NL teams, only the Mets, Braves, and Phillies have seen Jeter more. Still, let’s be honest, there’s not much history between the two. For comparison, Jeter has dug into the batter’s box 1,247 times against the Red Sox. So what should the Crew do when “Captain Clutch” comes through town?
Last year, teams showed their reverence for Mariano Rivera, who was on his own farewell tour, various ways. Some made charitable donations to the Mariano Rivera foundation. Other teams gave him things related to Metallica (a play on his “Sandman” nickname) or fishing (his dad’s business and his childhood job). Grantland ranked the various gifts Rivera received. But the best gift came from the Twins, who made a donation to Mo’s foundation and presented him with a “Chair of Broken Dream” built out of bats that he had broken.
So while the Crew may not have much history with Jeter, we can still get him a cool gift if we put on our thinking caps. I’ll get the ball rolling by listing a few options below.
1 – Charitable donation to the Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter’s foundation is aimed at helping kids avoid drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2” a healthy lifestyle. Run by his father, a substance abuse counselor, this would be a classy and simple gift of appreciation.
2 – Ride down Bernie’s slide. Some of the best gifts are the simplest and don’t carry a price tag.
3 – A tie. You know, to remind him of the All Star Game at Miller Park.
4 – Pallet of Norichika Aoki bobbleheads. Sunday, June 29th, was supposed to be Nori Aoki bobblehead day at Miller Park. Then Doug Melvin had to go and mess that up by trading Aoki to the Royals. So there are probably a few thousands of these things gathering dust somewhere. While it might seem like an unusual gift, remember that most of them won’t see the light of day, which makes them a collectors item. All Jeter needs is an Ebay account, and the patience to list each bobblehead individually, for him to realize that the Brewers gave him a gold mine.
5 – Unpublished manuscripts. Last year, Jeter laid the groundwork for his retirement by partnering with the literary giant Simon and Schuster. Together, they will create Jeter Publishing, which aims to publish both nonfiction and various children’s books. So, if any Brewers player has an inspiring life story, or maybe the desire to clarify certain events of their life, now is the time to get to work on that book proposal. Soon Jeter will have a ton of time to read. The challenge will be getting something into his hands. A ceremony celebrating him might be the perfect time.
6 – Harley. Nothing says retirement like life on the open road. Without a wife or children to become the center of his universe, Jeter could hit the road on his new hog for a cross-country journey filled with personal growth and exploration. Since Jeter is known to be a Lothario and all around good guy, I could totally see him rolling into small towns and staying long enough to help but not get tied down. I’m sure he would break a few hearts, solve some crimes, and right a few wrongs. Then ride off into the sunset looking for another adventure. All thanks to the Brewers.
7 –Gift basket with ball autographed by the entire team. Simple, classy, and something Jeter already thinks is appropriate.
Ok, maybe none of those are great, besides the donation to his charity, but this is tougher than it seems. What do you get the guy who you’re only acquainted with and has everything? I’m sure that was a question the Brewers front office didn’t think they’d have to ask themselves this year.