We knew this day was coming. It was just a matter of when. It turned out to be Wednesday, and now the clock is ticking on one of the greatest Yankees to ever play the game.
Derek Jeter announced via Facebook -- something that didn't even exist when he debuted in 1995 -- that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2014 season, finally bringing us to the end of an era, one that many of us only know, and will never forget.
This will be Jeter's 20th season with the Yankees. This will also be my 18th year on this earth. Ever since I became a fan of baseball and a fan of the Yankees, Derek Jeter has always been there. On my television, on my computer, or on my phone; wherever I've watched Yankees game over the past eight years.
He's the player that kids, coaches, and even fellow teammates look up to, and the kind of person that everyone wants to be.
Unlike Alex Rodriguez, Jeter wasn't born with natural talents and great instincts for the game. But what he lacked in talent, he made up for with hard work. Lots, and lots of hard work.
Regardless of the game, the setting, the situation, the opponent; whether he was sick, injured, aching, or ailing, Jeter took the field, and gave it all he got.
After the announcement, I took a lot of time to think things over before writing this. I watched the comments on Twitter, and listened to the reactions of former players, teammates, managers and general managers on the radio and on TV. Not a single bad thing to say about the game. Every comment and tweet making him look even better as a player and more respected as a person than the last.
I'm really going to miss the days when he's not on the club. Not in the lineup. Not in the field.
History has shown in the past the you can replace a great ballplayer, but you can replace a legend like Jeter. It'll be years before the Yankees find someone to take over as the face of their franchise. Robinson Cano was in line to be that guy, but he chose money over history and signed with the Seattle Mariners.
CC Sabathia? No. Mark Teixeira? No. Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka or Jacoby Ellsbury? No, no, and no. None of them are the leader, player and person that Jeter is.
Turning 40 this summer, Jeter will be able to put himself on the long list of Yankees players that not only did things the right way, but will end things the way he wants to, on his own terms; joining the likes of Babe Ruth through Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte.
Sadly enough, I'll never get the chance to cover Jeter on a daily basis, but being able to watch him play for almost a decade is good enough to me.
Five world championships, 12 all-star appearances, over 3,300 hits, and a careers worth of great moments that will never slip my mind.
The Yankees are coming into spring training this year without Mariano River for the first time in two decades, and his absence will be felt heavily in the bullpen for at least this season, and the next few years down the road, unless David Robertson fills the closer role well. And this time next season, the Yankees will show up to spring training without Derek Jeter for the first time in my life.
I can't imagine what like was like before 1995, but in a just a year, I'm going to find out. Brace yourselves, life without The Captain is coming.
Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).