Saturday, May 13, 2017

On the Eve of Derek Jeter Day…

Derek Jeter Day is tomorrow and now that we’ve met the man, the myth and the legend that will be honored tomorrow with his #2 uniform number retired let’s take a look at the moments that made Derek Sanderson Jeter into the larger-than-life player and ambassador that he is today.

Remember the Jeffrey Maier home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1996 ALCS? Jeter, with the Yankees trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, hit a ball to the wall that Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco tracked before a 12-year old Yankees fan named Jeffrey Maier reached out and took the ball from the field of play. Umpires called the ball a home run, the Yankees won the game and the series en route to the World Series championship.  

Speaking of World Series championships the Yankees were back in the World Series in 2000 looking for their fourth title in five years. The team standing in their way? Their crosstown-rivals the New York Mets. Jeter started the series off in “Jeterian Fashion” hitting a home run off Bobby Jones en route to a World Series MVP Award and another ring for the collection.

Great things happen to the Yankees Captain in October and “the flip” is just another one in the long line of great things. On October 13, 2001 Jeter and the Yankees found themselves down 0-2 to the Oakland Athletics in a best-of-five series but the team had the lead on the road in Game 3. Shane Spencer overthrew the cut-off man after Terrence Long lined a shot off Mike Mussina down the right field line and Jeter seemingly came out of nowhere to cut the ball off and shovel it to catcher Jorge Posada before Jeremy Giambi could cross the plate safely. The lead was safe and the Yankees went on to win the game and the series before falling to the Arizona Diamondbacks in seven games in the World Series.
Speaking of that 2011 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks the Yankees shortstop garnered a new nickname that postseason, Mr. November. For the first time ever a World Series game was played in November and as the clock struck midnight on November, 1st the Captain came to the plate and hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. The series was tied after four games.

Three years later it would be the Boston Red Sox celebrating in the World Series and not the Yankees but before October came to the sport we had to endure a game between the Yankees and Red Sox on July 1st. In the game Jeter made a catch in the 12th inning that resulted in him diving into the stands and leaving the game bruised and bloodied. The Yankees won the game in the 13th inning but without the catch by Jeter who knows what could have come of the inning and that Trot Nixon at-bat.

2009 was a big season for the New York Yankees. The Yankees won their first World Series since the 2000 season, Jeter’s fifth ring in Yankees pinstripes, and Jeter also passed Yankees great Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hit list. On September 11, 2009 the Yankees and Orioles were squaring off head-to-head when Jeter smacked a single off Orioles starter Chris Tillman for his 2,722 hit of his Yankees career. Lou Gehrig held the record for 72 seasons before Jeter broke it en route to yet another World Series victory.

Jeter wasn’t done hitting though as it took him a season and a half to collect another 278 hits for his 3,000th hit of his career. In classic Derek Jeter fashion he did it in style smacking a home run off Tampa Bay Rays’ starter David Price for one of his five hits on the day.

How else would Jeter close out his career then with something dramatic? In his final game inside Yankee Stadium Jeter smacked a walk-off single to give the Yankees a victory over the Baltimore Orioles. That in itself was impressive but when you consider the fact that the Yankees had a huge lead entering the Top of the 9th only to see oft-reliable David Robertson blow it goes to show you that at least some of the ghosts from the old Yankee Stadium made the trip across the street to the new stadium, at least for a night anyway.

And there you have it… just a few of the many, many things that made Derek Jeter a special player and a special kind of person. Well that and the alleged gift baskets he would give to his woman after he spent the night with them. That one we will never know for sure though, not for a while anyway. Enjoy Derek Jeter Day everyone!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)