Even I have to admit that the new Derek Jeter ad for Gatorade is very well done, and it is understandable why it has struck such a chord. After July’s fawning Nike ad, I wondered why Jeter didn’t do a commercial thanking the fans, instead of having everyone kiss his tuchis and show him respect. (I refuse to spell that word with a 2!) The latest Jeter commercial actually does just that, and in a vacuum, it would make a great sendoff.
But we’ve been through a season of stories about how Jeter is not merely a first-ballot Hall of Famer with five rings, but is the face of baseball, the ultimate team player, and the truest Yankee of them all. So I have to ask, how did Jeter, who came up with the ad’s concept, decide that the song that sums up his career is “My Way”?
How do lyrics like “To think I did all that/And may I say, not in a shy way/Oh no, oh no, not me/I did it my way” and “For what is a man, what has he got/If not himself, then he has not/To say the things he truly feels/And not the words of one who kneels” work for somebody who is supposed to be all about team?
Here’s what Paul Anka, who wrote “My Way” for Frank Sinatra in 1968, told the Daily Telegraph about what inspired the song’s lyrics. Sinatra was making noises at that time about retiring:
“At one o’clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank were writing this, what would he say?’ And I started, metaphorically, ‘And now the end is near.’ I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was ‘my this’ and ‘my that’. We were in the ‘me generation’ and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: ‘I ate it up and spit it out.’ But that’s the way he talked.”
Anka also said in My Way, his autobiography, that he wrote the song with Sinatra’s notorious ego in mind:
“I’d never before written something so chauvinistic, narcissistic, in-your-face and grandiose, everything in that song was Sinatra.“
Jeter’s love for the song tells us more about him than people are realizing. “I did it my way,” Sinatra brags, not “We did it our way,” or “I did it the team way.” After all, Jeter didn’t get to stay at shortstop (and bat second in the lineup!) at age 40 without doing it his way.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfgS1lvqX8I]