No, thank you, Derek. Thank you for your consistent effort and the way you have played the game since joining the New York Yankees’ major league roster in 1995.
You played hard when you were a rookie. You played hard when you reached undisputed star status. You played hard when you got older and would’ve been excused for taking it easy every now and then.
You resisted the urge to blame injuries when your statistics dipped in 2010 and 2011, even though others around you said you were hurting. When you rebounded in 2012 with a .316 batting average and 15 homers, you didn’t say, “I told you so.”
You ran out to your position before each game with your head down. You ran out routine groundballs. You ran into the stands after foul balls. You never stopped running.
You accepted awards with humility. When you didn’t receive awards you probably should’ve gotten (2006 American League Most Valuable Player), you didn’t say a word publicly about it.
You played the game with enough class that even Red Sox fans could say that even though they didn’t like you, they respected you.
Now, you’re giving your fans one more gift – a retirement tour. You aren’t retiring until after the 2014 season, which will give fans and opposing teams a chance to honor you, as they did last season for your longtime teammate Mariano Rivera, who retired at the end of the year.
Critics might roll their eyes and blast you, saying you just want everyone to bow down to the altar of the Yankee Captain. If that really is why you’re doing it, that’s OK -- you’ve earned it.
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at email@example.com. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.