It doesn’t take long to go from top of the world to the end of the line, does it? As Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodrgiuez continue to move past their prime years, I often wonder how long they will last. Which one will be injured the most? Will one of them just fall off the table seemingly overnight?
Trot Nixon was the heart of the Red Sox "Dirt Dog" teams just a minute ago. Now, he’s close to finished. Here’s an interesting AP story.
No matter how it plays out, I think the transition to life after baseball might be particularly tough for Jeter. Here is Dennis Eckersley, always a straight-shooter, talking to Mike Bryan in spring training 1988, from the book "Baseball Lives:"
People say baseball players should go out and have fun. No way. To me, baseball is pressure. I always feel it. This is work. The fun is afterwards, when you shake hands.
When I was a rookie I’d tear stuff up. Now I keep it in. What good is smashing a light on the way up the tunnel? But I still can’t sleep at night if I stink. I’ve always tried to change that and act like a normal guy when I got home. "Hi, honey, what’s happening?" I can’t. It’s there. It doesn’t go away. But maybe that’s why I’ve been successful in my career, because I care. I don’t have fun. I pitch scared. That’s what makes me go. Nothing wrong with being scared if you can channel it.
I issued to hide behind my cockiness. Don’t let the other team know you’re scared. I got crazy on the mound. Strike a guy out, throw my fist around—"Yeah!" Not real classy, but I was a raw kid. I didn’t care. It wasn’t fake. It was me. This wasn’t taken very kindly by a lot of people. They couldn’t wait to light me up. That’s the price you pay.
I wish I was a little happier in this game. What is so great about this shit? You get the money, and then you’re used to the money. You start making half a million a year, next thing you know you need half a million a year. And the heat is on!
Used to be neat to just be a big-league ballplayer, but that wore off. I’m still proud, but I don’t want people to bother me about it. I wish my personality with people was better. I find myself becoming short with people. Going to the store. Getting gas.
If you’re not happy with when you’re doing lousy, then not happy when you’re doing well, when the hell are you going to be happy? This game will humble you in a heartbeat. Soon as you starting getting happy, Boom! For the fans—and this is just a guess—they think the money takes out the feeling. I may be wrong but I think they think, "What the hell is he worrying about? He’s still getting’ paid." There may be a few players who don’t give 100 percent, but I always thought if you were good enough to make that kind of money, you’d have enough pride to play like that, wouldn’t you think? You don’t just turn it on or off.