Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Derek Jeter Takes the Torch!
The Toronto Blue Jays headed to New York last week for a final three game series against the Yankees. It was a meaningless series in many ways for both teams. The Yankees are well out in front of the pack and are guaranteed a playoff berth. Conversely, the Jays trail everyone except the lowly Orioles, and are tooling up for next year.
Two weeks ago, in Toronto, Derek Jeter came within two hits of placing himself squarely beside Lou Gehrig as the Yankee with the most hits in a baseball career. The Yankees did return to the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium for three games, and Jeter pushed a sharp single down the first base line to move past Gehrig.
Derek Jeter is the Yankees’ captain. He was chosen by team owner George Steinbrenner in 2003. There is some mystique to the captaincy of the team. Another Yankee great, Don Mattingly, held the position from 1991 until 1995 when he retired. At that time “The Boss” chose to wait eight years before deciding that one of his players was worthy of the title.
Other previous captains were all Yankee greats, including: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, and Graig Nettles. Those of you who are reading this and are greying slightly at the temples can understand why each of those players deserved the award.
Once he had punched that single into right field, Jeter turned on first base and accepted the adoration of his fans graciously. He is highly respected by baseball fans everywhere, and much of that stems from his approach to the game.
A fine American sports commentator, Colin Cowherd, has a mid-morning talk show on ESPN radio. Cowherd pulls very few punches, often finding himself in hot water because of outrageous comments. He has nothing but complete respect, even awe, for Derek Jeter. “When you consider that ninety per cent of the other major leaguers are doing steroids, and they still cannot catch up to Jeter, that should tell you something.”
Cowherd’s estimate of the number of steroid users may be a little high. To me it means that even though the other players have tried to gain an advantage on Jeter with medication, they still can’t touch him. Another fine hitter, Ichiro Suzuki from Seattle, is the first player in baseball history to reach 200 hits in nine consecutive seasons. I believe Ichiro accomplished the feat without enhancements. He will be thirty-six in October, and may be running out of time to catch Jeter, or even Pete Rose.
Jeter has a ton of individual awards to his credit: 3 Gold Glove Awards, 10 All Star appearances, 3 Silver Slugger Awards, in 2000, he was the MVP in the All Star game and the World Series.
He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996, and led the Yankees to a World Series title that year. He has three other World Series rings in his closet.
He is adored in Yankee Stadium. The crowd breaks into a hand clapping routine to acknowledge his presence. They say his name in syllables: “der-ek je-ter” then clap those four syllables. They then continue on with the other players. It is done in Fenway as well. I am certain the organizer of that activity is not all that happy when Jonathan Albaladejo takes the mound!
Jeter still chases a few other Yankees for top stop on the All Time team lists. He trails only newly inducted Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson in steals. He is in fourth place in the run category behind Mickey Mantle. He is half a dozen doubles short of Don Mattingly’s total of 442 for fourth place, and he recently surpassed Yogi Berra for games played in pinstripes. But he has more singles than any other Yankee, ever, and he has been up to bat more than any other Yankee. And Ouch! He has been hit by pitches more than any other Yankee.
Now that you have recovered from the opening weekends of the National Football League, you can pull the handle on that Lazy Boy and catch some Jays on the tube.
Great article on this season being the vindication of Derek Jeter at sportspsychiatrist.blogspot.com.Post a Comment