Full disclosure: I hate the New York Yankees. When I see their iconic home uniforms, sporting those pinstripes that just ooze pompousness, I get a little dizzy from the urge to lose my Crackerjacks.
My revulsion stems from growing up a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the mid-1970’s and the utter disappointment I felt in October of 1977 and 1978 after Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, almost singlehandedly beat my beloved boys in blue. Watching my classmates become overnight Yankee fans just chapped my hide and a life time of disdain for the Bronx Bombers was etched in my brain.
As the 2014 baseball season dawns, it is difficult, though, to ignore the fact that this is Derek Jeter’s last go around. As much as I despise his team, it is difficult not to root for him to have a great year. Like his former teammate Mariano Rivera who retired last year, Jeter plays the game right and his level of accomplishment is without parallel among active players. 3,316 hits is nothing to sneeze at, and call me a Baseball pessimist, but I don’t see many of the current crop of major leaguers getting to 3000 hits in their career, let alone 3300+. There is a chance, though, of Jeter’s squeaky clean teammate, Alex Rodriguez, who won’t be suiting up this year due to steroid troubles getting there, but that’s another blog all together.
I think the first moment that really cemented a respect and admiration for Jeter, at least for me, was in the 2001 American League Divisional Championship series when "the flip" occurred. Considering that the Yankees had pretty much dominated the AL for four straight seasons, I know I was rooting for the Oakland A’s to knock’em out in that first round matchup and they had the Yankees up against the ropes after winning the first two games in New York. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th inning, Terrence Long’s double into the right field corner looked like it might score Jason Giambi from first and tie the game, but Derek Jeter came out of nowhere to make "the flip" and save the Yankees bacon.
Good Bye, Jeter
As Jeter enters his final spring training and readies himself for his swan song, it is hard to imagine that his final trip around the bases will be anything but must-see tv for the general fan, and worth a trip to the ballpark for those lucky enough to get to see him play. With a strong season at the plate, Jeter can quiet whispers that he has hung on too long after last year’s injury-plagued season. Sure he’ll receive the obligatory golf clubs from opposing teams as he makes a final visit to their stadium, but for Jeter, the only real prize is one more ring for his collection.
2014 Spring Training Schedule
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