I agree that Jeter is Hall of Fame material and on the first ballot. He belongs, not just because of longevity, but because he's produced consistently, in the field, at bat and in the public eye. No rumors, no embarrassing photos and no police reports.
Some writers claim he's not a good shortstop, in fact, some even go so far as to say he's a terrible shortstop. Shortstop is a key position. You can't win consistently with a terrible shortstop, but Jeter has five rings and five gold gloves. Explain THAT to me, Mr. Naysayers. I will admit that he never had great range and lately, he's had almost no range, but he has handled everything he could reach, and did it when it mattered the most. Boston had a shortstop that was a better hitter and was considered to be a terrific shortstop, but in a close game against the Yanks, he's the guy I wanted to see handle the ball. Under pressure, because he couldn't do it. Which guy would you rather have?
One of Jeter's assets was that he was a better hitter under pressure. They used to say that about Yogi Berra, too. A good hitter, but in a critical situation, he became Mr. Clutch. If you check the records, it wasn't true for either one. The truth is, they were the SAME hitter under pressure. Many players wilt under that spotlight, others would produce occasionally, but Derek and Yogi -they performed exactly to their talents and abilities in those situations. That's what made them dangerous. They were calm and cool and waited for the inevitable mistake the pitcher would make and bang! A legend is born.
I have always had one criticism of the Captain. He wasn't a good captain. It's okay to lead by example, but you need dedicated professionals with you who understand what you're doing and are willing to do what it takes to win. But when you needed a guy to step up in the clubhouse, to kick some butt if needed, to help rally a team around A-Rod and offer his personal support when A-Rod needed it, Jeter was nowhere to be found. When you watched the Yankees play like second division losers, like this year, someone had to stand up in a meeting and lay it on the line to these self-concerned stars. Again, no Jeter. Apparently, Joe Girardi went off on the team on Thursday, the first time he's ever done that. If Jeter had done that in June, they might be popping champagne corks today. I think Girardi laid off all year in deference to Jeter, waiting for him to take control, but he never did. Maybe that's really the fault of management, who bestowed the title on him in hopes he would grow into it, but it never happened. Let's see who emerges next season. I don't believe Girardi will show much patience from now on.
But, for now, let's celebrate the career of someone who always played the game the way it should have been played. Someone who gave us those highlight plays - the flip, the dive and the 3000th hit homer.
Thank you, Mr. November.
1) Joe Torre changed a hit to an error on a play that occurred TUESDAY! Why? It changed 4 runs charged to King Felix from earned to unearned. The only difference was that Felix Hernandez was able to lower his ERA back to 2.18, keeping him in the hunt for the ERA title. It played no part in the game, the A's won 10-2. Why was Torre sticking his nose into it? The call of a hit or error is at the discretion of the scorer. It is not a reviewable play by the umpires. Even it Torre says that he "just wanted it right," this is wrong. Is he going to to go back and review every error in the season? No, he's not, just when it suits him. The new Commissioner's first job should be to fire Torre.
2) The season ends today (9/28), yet the first wild card game isn't until Tuesday. The NL WC game is Wednesday and the first playoff game isn't until Friday. Again, why? Wild card games should be on Monday and the first two playoff games for both leagues should be Tuesday and Wednesday. The leagues and the networks continually drag these things out as long as possible, which is why we end up with games that are played at midnight in the last week of October. This is the Commissioner's second job: fire the scheduler.
***THEY SAID IT***
Might as well get them all out of the way at once:
"Next up, MLB will try to figure out what they have to change to give the Yankees and Derek Jeter a spot in the playoffs." -- Janice Hough
"TSN (The Sports Network) said Derek Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium had moments we'll never forget. Probably because they won't ever let us." -- RJ Currie
"On Thursday night, Derek Jeter played his last home game at Yankee Stadium. The overblown farewell tour ended the only way that it could, with the mayor of New York City presenting Jeter with the Statue of Liberty." -- Brad Dickson
"During the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, there were 100 representatives from 135 nations in New York City — all here to pay tribute to Derek Jeter." -- David Letterman
"You have not seen the last of Derek Jeter. When he throws out the first pitch next year at Yankee Stadium and it’s anywhere near the plate, Mets scouts will be all over him." -- TC Chong
"Derek Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium seemed to be in serious jeopardy until the rains serendipitously relented. Or as New Yorkers prefer to spin it, the baseball gods finally stopped crying." -- Dwight Perry
****In other news --
"Former Olympic decathlon champ, Bruce Jenner, has had a lot of plastic surgery. When I was a kid, his face was on a box of Wheaties. Now his face isn't even on his face anymore." -- Jimmy Kimmel