…So What Happens When Jeter’s Gone?

In yesterday’s post, I got to wondering how much the Yankees will miss Robinson Canó, and while they have what looks like a hole at second base, I was also thinking on a grander scale.

I think the Yankees were right to stick to their guns and not get into “crazy-ass money”, but they’re on the verge of losing what made them different from the other teams which were assemblages of high-priced talent.

The great Yankee teams always had at least one “real Yankee” who spent his career in pinstripes or were so thoroughly associated with the Yankees that he may as well have done so.

I don’t have to tell you about the long line of All-Star caliber players who are associated with the Yankees and only the Yankees… Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, blah blah blah.

1977 Hostess Thurman Munson

When I was a kid, Thurman Munson was that guy until his untimely death in 1979.  By the way, this is the first card I’m featuring from my COMC Black Friday haul.

To my thinking, Ron Guidry became THE GUY for a number of years…

1979 Topps Ron Guidry RB

(…and this is the second Black Friday card I’m featuring…)

Overlapping with Guidry, Don Mattingly picked up the mantle (pun only slightly intended).

1985 Topps Don Mattingly

Before Donnie Baseball faded to black (or navy blue), we had Bernie Williams…

1997 UD Collectors Choice Bernie Williams

…and we also had the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada.

2000 Pacific Derek Jeter Portrait

But once Jeter retires or spontaneously combusts, who else will be the guy who epitomizes the Yankee Way? Brett Gardner? Brett Gardner is a good player, but is he worthy of being at the top of the Yankee Yooniverse?  Will he even make it to 2014 with the Yankees?  Will prospects like Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams pan out in time to carry the torch?

I mean, I don’t know if Canó really was THAT GUY to begin with, but he was certainly the highest profile guy to break in with the Yankees in the 21st century.

So what happens post-Jeter?  Will the Yankees become just a gathering of highly-paid mercenaries without the heart and soul of a Yankee dynasty?

One can only hope…  But I suspect that the Yankees will be fine.

Pity.

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