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Jeter feels for Cubs fans -- to a point

4/17/2014

NEW YORK -- The Chicago Cubs haven't exactly crossed the mind of retiring New York Yankees great Derek Jeter lately. The teams don't play each other often and the Yankees are consistently in a win-now mode.

The Cubs? Not so much.

Jeter was asked between games of a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday if he could imagine going 105 years without a championship. The Yankees have won five since Jeter debuted for them in 1995 and 27 overall as a franchise.

"Can I imagine it? No," Jeter half-smirked. "I hear about it, but it's kind of hard to relate to it. But I've definitely heard about it. The Cubs have had some good teams there. It just goes to show you it's difficult to win a championship. They've had some great teams that have gotten close, but it's difficult to do."

Some might dispute how many great teams the Cubs have had but a Cubs/Yankees World Series almost happened in 2003. The Cubs famously lost to the Florida Marlins after leading three games to one. Jeter's Yankees were locked in a battle with the Boston Red Sox and the Cubs/Marlins series ended first.

"I'm well aware of the history and the tradition of the Cubs," he said. "I grew up in Michigan and was able to watch a lot of games on television. At the professional level, I've only been there once."

Jeter will get one more look at Wrigley Field before he retires. The Cubs host the Yankees in a two-game series in May. Just don't call it part of a farewell tour for him.

"I don't like the phrase farewell tour," Jeter said. "This is my last season, but I'm not going around shaking hands and kissing babies. We're trying to win."

Several Cubs have said they look up to Jeter and patterned their games and demeanor after him. Starlin Castro, Mike Olt and even minor leaguers Javier Baez and Albert Almora all described him as a favorite player.

"It makes you feel good anytime someone looks up to you and has nice things to say about you," Jeter said. "I remember when I met Cal Ripken Jr. I was a little timid to speak to him or approach him because you never view yourself that way."

Castro says he met Jeter once, at an All-Star Game. Jeter couldn't remember when it was and only knows him by his reputation.

"I haven't seen him play much," Jeter said. "I've heard a lot of good things about him. He's going to have a bright future. Hopefully when we go to Chicago I'll get a chance to talk to him more."