One of the most iconic roles in baseball is being the captain of the New York Yankees. In fact, there have been only 16 captains, ranging from Clark Griffith to Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig to Thurman Munson to Don Mattingly to Derek Jeter. So, it was rather surprising to hear Brian Cashman say that the Yankees shouldn’t give out the captain role following Derek Jeter’s retirement.
“I think there’s leadership that comes a lot of different ways,” Cashman said after today’s game. “Derek wore it so well for so long, but we’ve had a number of guys leading this club over the years. Mariano (Rivera) led the relievers, (Andy) Pettitte at times or (Roger) Clemens or whoever led the starters. Leadership comes in different forms or fashions. Joe is obviously the manager. We’ve had it in a lot of different forms and fashions. I don’t think we need a captaincy, personally, but obviously Derek wore it well.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily something that’s important for us to fill. I think it will fill on its own, naturally. Leadership steps up in different forms and fashions whether you’re on the team plane, in the clubhouse, on the field of play, in the bullpen or in the manager’s office. It just comes in different forms and fashions.”
I had to take a few hours to actually think about how I was going to respond to Brian Cashman’s words. And now that I have, here’s my main thought: There will be another captain after Derek Jeter. I understand there’s no clear-cut player on the team that could be the captain this season or even next season, but to say the Yankees should never name a new captain again is ludicrous.
If the Yankees were to retire the captain legacy, they should have done it with Gehrig or Munson, who were known as two of the best captains in the Yankees organization but also had their lives tragically cut short. Gehrig was the captain until his death in 1941. Munson was the captain until his death in 1979.
I understand Jeter is the only shortstop the young generation has seen, but if we look back at Yankees history, Jeter wasn’t the best Yankees captain out of the bunch. There’s going to be a player in the future worthy of the captain role, but are we not going to give him the role as captain because the Yankees retired the role of captain for Jeter?
Cashman’s comments even caught manager Joe Girardi off-guard and while Girardi didn’t exactly elaborate on Cashman’s statement, he did add his two cents on the situation.
“I didn’t think we needed a captain this year,” Girardi said. “And I think guys need to lead (without it). I don’t think you necessarily have to have a captain to have leaders. … We give the freedom to our guys in the clubhouse, whoever wants to speak up, I don’t care how many days (in the big leagues) you have, you can speak up.”
Girardi hit it right on the nose. The Yankees don’t need to have a captain this year. But eventually there will be someone who will rise to the occasion and lead the Yankees in their march to a World Series championship. Luckily, Cashman isn’t the one in charge of who’s the next captain, that’s the ownership’s decision. But Cashman’s comments caused a bit of controversy, and even have majority of the fans raising their eyebrows.