Here's a description of The Long Goodbye: "A study of a moral and decent man cast adrift in a self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance . . . and any notions of friendship and loyalty are meaningless.''
It's a summary of the 1950s novel later adapted to film, but it could be applied to the extended farewell of 40-year-old Derek Jeter from the cold, hard business of Major League Baseball.
And on the occasions when the Yankees appear challenged by blind spots and miscalculations -- take Sunday night's 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox as the latest example -- the process of bidding adieu to the widely respected Jeter at least provides a bit of performance art.
This season's seventh Yankee Stadium sellout crowd (48,124) watched Jeter go 2-for-4 and drive in a run with a third-inning single that capped one of his typically grinding at bats -- 11 pitches. That makes him 23-for-65 (.354) in his last 17 games. But in those 17 games, the Yankees are a less impressive 9-8.
They showed some offensive life Sunday night. Solo home runs by Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran in the fourth. A triple by Ichiro Suzuki followed by Brett Gardner's double in the fifth.
But after doubling in the sixth, Beltran was thrown out at the plate by centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. on Kelly Johnson's single. "It happens,'' Joe Girardi said. "No one's going to be perfect. [The Red Sox] executed.''
And rookie starter Chase Whitley (3-2, 4.70 ERA), who had won his first three decisions, was wobbly for a second straight outing. He was bruised by eight hits and five runs in four innings-plus, including a three-run homer by David Ortiz in the third inning that gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.
It was the 450th homer of Ortiz's 18-year career, putting him 37th on the all-time list of big boppers.
"Most frustrated, obviously, with the pitch to Ortiz,'' Whitley said. "And the walk to set up the fifth was unacceptable. Just made some mistakes. And you pay for it. I got to keep working and get better.''
Whitley's original first responder, Shawn Kelley, couldn't get an out against the only three hitters he faced -- walk, walk, single. Kelley's replacement, David Huff, picked Pedroia off first base, but Pedroia extended the rundown long enough for Daniel Nava to score from third.
Of the six walks allowed by the Yankees, five came around to score. Before the long night was over, the Yankees had burned through five relievers, and Girardi acknowledged that he is working with a staff of pitchers without a track record. "But it's an opportunity for them,'' Girardi said, "and that's how people start their careers.''
Their accumulated failures came a night after Boston's Mike Napoli lined Masahiro Tanaka's 1-and-2 fastball out of the ballpark with two outs in the ninth inning for a 2-1 Yankees defeat.
Which was followed by overblown hand-wringing over Tanaka's decision not to throw his more effective splitter, which so startled (and relieved) Napoli that he was caught on television shouting in the dugout, "What an idiot!''
Both the Yankees and Red Sox dismissed the incident as nothing more than Napoli's heat-of-the-moment emotion.
So the Yankees dip to 41-39, with a feel that they still are in the research-and-development stage. Still, there is the lingering Derek Jeter epilogue to play out through the summer. Before his final ciao, adios, adieu, au revoir.