Both players have been perennial All-Stars, and each has won a post-season Most Valuable Player award. The two have career statistics worthy of the Hall of Fame, as well as World Series championships. Too, both played in big market cities.
They also share an important milestone this year, as both have announced that they will retire at the end of this season. Therein lies the biggest difference between Paul Konerko and Derek Jeter.
In nearly every city the Yankees visit, Jeter is greeted with gifts and farewell ceremonies honoring his career. The White Sox recently gave him a bench made of bats and bases, and the Cubs presented him with a number 2 from Wrigley Field’s historic scoreboard.
Along those same lines, the Mets issued him a large number 2 made out of subway tiles and a large cake featuring both the Mets and Yankees logos. Milwaukee honored him with a bronze bat, while the Angels bestowed upon him a giant, Yankees-themed paddle board. In Houston, a Jeter was given a pair of pinstriped cowboy boots and a Stetson hat.
All are thoughtful gifts, recognizing Jeter’s long career with the Bronx Bombers. During his twenty years with the Yankees, the shortstop batted .311 and served as the face of the organization.
His overall numbers, though, are no better than his fellow retiree in Chicago. During an eighteen year career spent mostly with the White Sox, Konerko slugged 484 home runs, and hit at a .280 batting clip. All in all, he averaged 31 home runs and 98 runs batted in per season.
In spite of those outstanding numbers, Konerko’s final season has gone virtually unnoticed. Other than his rivals on the North side of Chicago, Konerko has been presented nothing.
Part of the reason is that Konerko is not in the starting lineups his year. Unlike Jeter, Konerko has willingly stepped aside to let a younger, more talented player take over first. As he has done throughout his career, Konerko has sacrificed the limelight for the benefit of his team
Perhaps Jeter should have done the same thing. Instead, he has saddled the Yankees lineup with offensive numbers that are almost as low as those he posted in 2013.