I was upset to hear the news about Kirby Puckett yesterday. Man, 45 is just too young. I was 13-years old when he broke in with the Twins and remember him vividly as an energetic and enthusiastic player. In recent years, a darker, more disturbing side of Puckett was revealed, which underscores not only how human athletes are, but how different they can be from their public persona, and how difficult it is for many of them to adjust to life after the game. Puckett's post-baseball life was evidentally a struggle filled with pain. It got me to thinking, "What if a guy like Derek Jeter ended up in a similar fashion?" It's almost impossible to believe right now--and I say almost, because, really, there isn't much left to shock us these days--but anything can happen right?
Ultimately, I think that Puckett will be best remembered for what he did on the field. I hope the same can be said for the Yankee Captain, who was the subject of a puff piece by Don Amore this morning, but you never know:
"You're talking to a huge Jeter fan," said J.P. Ricciardi, GM of the Blue Jays. "If you throw out the numbers of everything he's done, he plays the game the right way. We tell our young players, `Watch the way Jeter plays and try to be like him.' He doesn't talk a lot of crap. He's the kind of guy, if he were playing in Yankee Stadium and there was nobody in the ballpark, he would still play hard."
Joe Dimaggio never understoood or appreciated the reference Simon and Garfunkel made to him in "Mrs. Robinson." It's okay that he didn't get it, because so many other people did recognize that Dimaggio stood for something, a sensibility, a period of time. Jeter is someone who could wind up in a song like that one day too, don't you think?