(Although this column is a forum for facts and opinions, today’s Noise The Column is a flight of fancy, and exclusively the domain of the the imagination of the Head Noise-Maker, Timothy A. Sommer)
To commemorate yesterday’s Baseball All-Star Game, and the surprise appearance of Minnesota Archbishop John C. Nienstadt to grant Derek Jeter the privilege of dispensing the rite of Extreme Unction in the name of the Catholic Church (making him the first non-cleric to have been bestowed this honor since Charles Lindbergh), I thought I would take a few moments to comment on the Great Man’s final circuit around the playing fields of North America.
As he marches off into the sunset of a well-earned retirement, Derek Jeter, one of the truly honorable men of Baseball, has collected many tributes and gifts from the teams that have respected him as an opponent and honor his contribution to the game.
Watches, cufflinks, donations to his favorite charity, a surfboard, a set of golf clubs, a ten gallon hat…this is just a very small sampling of the gifts presented to ol’ No. 2 as he visits ballparks on his season-long retirement tour.
As admirable and deserving of praise as Jeter is, I must confess that I believe that some of the honors he is receiving are getting a bit out of hand. Here are some of the recent gifts that raised the eyebrow of this Jeter-watcher (and, in parentheses, the team that presented the gift):
* 10 ounces of Gold bullion in the shape of Baseball-loving President William Howard Taft (the Washington Nationals)
* A 1995 Pontiac Seville, containing inside of it a 2014 Chevy Spark (from the Detroit Tigers, commemorating Jeter’s first and last season in baseball)
* Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh and a wooden plague noting in Aramaic that Jeter is King of the Baseball Players (Atlanta Braves)
* A Daily wake-up call from Eddie Money singing Jeter’s favorite song, “Two Tickets to Paradise” (from the Baltimore Orioles; later rescinded when it was discovered that this was a terrible misunderstanding based on a Orioles public relations executive confabulating the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” with the name of L’il Wayne’s record label, Young Money; a distressed Eddie Money still offered to call Jeter every day and tell him what Money had watched that morning on the Weather Channel and what flavor Ramen he had bought that week from the food aisle of Rite Aid)
* Renaming Jeter’s favorite Disneyland attraction, The Country Bear Jamboree, “The Country Bear Jeteree” (Los Angeles Angels)
* Presenting Jeter with the actual jackhammer used to remove the Hollywood Boulevard Star of his least-favorite actor, Ron Silver, who Jeter famously dismissed as “The Poor Man’s Al Pacino” (Los Angeles Dodgers)
* A comfortable shroud to wear during the three days between Jeter’s retirement and his surprise re-appearance at something like, oh, the Source Awards or Fallon (Kansas City Royals)
* A short film of former pitching ace Randy Johnson dressed as Jim Varney, saying “Hey Vern! Hey Vern!” for eight minutes (Seattle Mariners)
* An audio recording of Yankee great Mickey Rivers reciting Shakespeare’s “What a piece of work is Man!” speech from Hamlet (New York Mets)
* Marge Schott’s dog, Schottzie, stuffed, with his eyes replaced by glass balls that light up the number two when someone “pets” Schottzie (the Cincinnati Reds)
* A Rocking Chair and a donation of $50,000 in Jeter’s name to the Make-A-Wish Fund (Florida Marlins)
* Eddie Money’s Daughter (Philadelphia Phillies)