Derek Jeter and the Perfect Ending. There is crying in Baseball.


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The weather forecast for New York on Thursday, September 25th, 2014, called for tons of hard rain throughout the entire day and night. The rain storm that pummeled Washington DC the day before was on its way to New York City. The NY Mets were scheduled to play a doubleheader in Washington on Wednesday and they were rained out. Since that same storm was on its way north, New York Yankee fans crossed their fingers hoping that Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium will not be cancelled.

It is now Friday morning as I write this and we all learned something yesterday. We learned that “Mother Nature” is a diehard Yankee fan! The weathermen who predicted a rainy Thursday did so by following the pattern of a storm – but they did not factor in the “Yankee mystique”.

“Mother Nature” wouldn’t deny one of the greatest Yankees ever the chance to play one more ball game before his admiring loyal fans; so she shed some light tears throughout the day that reflected the sadness of losing Derek Jeter as a player. But when it was time to “play ball” she created a beautiful rainbow over New York to celebrate and thank Derek for all of the great moments he gave us. Then she turned it over to the ghosts of Yankee Stadium to perform their magic….
The fact that the Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs didn’t matter yesterday and every blue seat in the House that Jeter Built had an ass on it. Even the expensive blue seats that we saw empty all year were full. This was more than a baseball game – it was Jeter’s last concert before a crowd of 50,000 rocking fans. It was also the last time we would hear Bob Sheppard’s iconic voice say “Now batting for the New York Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter, number two”.

The game starts and the Yankees take the field. It’s the first inning and it’s time for the Bleacher Creature “Roll Call”. On this day the roll call will be louder than ever as the creatures poured all of their emotions into one final roll call. “DEH-rek JEE dah!! DEH-rek JEE dah!!” they chanted waiting for #2 to tip his hat one last time. But wait a minute…something isn’t right. A Baltimore Oriole decides to ruin the moment by hitting a home run as the Bleachers Creatures chant for Derek. This can’t be happening – did the Ghosts of Yankee Stadium take a timeout to go to the concession stands?

It’s now the bottom of the 1st inning and the Yankees are down 2-0. Brett Gardner singles and is on first base when Jeter steps up to the plate for his first at bat. The applause and cheering is deafening and Jeter delivers with a double off the wall that just barely missed making a fan an instant millionaire. The Ghosts are back!

The score is 2-2 at the end of the first inning and remains that way until the 7th . At one point of the 2nd inning the score was tied at 2 and there were 2 outs with a 2 and 2 count after the pitcher threw 22 pitches. That’s a lot of simultaneous 2’s during # 2’s last game. Something is brewing……
During the 7th inning the stage was set for another Yankee magic moment when Jeter goes to bat with the bases loaded. We all know this is the moment – maybe a Grand Slam? Wow, if that happened a lucky fan will need a police escort to get home and people in Queens would be swearing up and down that there was an earthquake in New York… and that they felt the aftershocks.

Jeter swings and hits a grounder to the shortstop. Damn it! Disappointment is immediately felt by Yankee fans as we imagine a double play being turned. The shortstop throws to second….and…wait a minute… the balls sails into the outfield! Error! Run scores and everybody’s safe! Not what we expected but we’ll take the outcome. If anything it proves that the Ghosts of Yankee Stadium are in the house just in case we need them later.

The score is now 5-2 Yankees and the Yankees take the lead to the top of the 9th. Yankees have a 3 run lead with 3 outs to go so they send in their ace reliever David Robertson who accepted the baton last year from the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera. The big decision now is when is Joe Girardi going to stop the game to take Jeter out. Girardi knows the greatest player he’s ever coached is entitled to one last standing ovation as he exits. Is he going to wait until there are 2 outs??

Robertson walks the first batter which is kind of normal. He typically pitches better when there are men on base anyway. The second batter strikes out. Next up is Adam Jones who hits a blast out of the ball park. All of a sudden Girardi’s decision is made for him. It’s only a 1 run game now and Jeter stays in.

The fans get a sense of what’s going on and I’m sure quite a few of them are secretly hoping Baltimore ties the game so that they could see The Captain bat one more time. Well, those secret prayers were answered. Robertson gives up another home run to Steve Pearce and the score is tied. There will be a bottom of the 9th and Jeter is scheduled to bat 3rd. Un-pack the Bob Sheppard recording!!

On this Thursday night, the New York Football Giants are playing the Redskins at the same the Yankees are playing. Typically (not always!) if you are a Yankee fan you’re a Giants fan – that’s just the way it is. So for those folks at home or at bars there was a lot of switching channels or head turning going on as you tried to watch both games simultaneously. However, when the Yankees went to bat at the bottom of the 9th the Giants perfectly timed the end of their 1st half. This meant that ALL eyes were exclusively on the Yankees. Another stage was set…

The first batter is Jose Pirela who wears # 67. A baseball number that high for a 2nd baseman doesn’t inspire optimism by fans. However, he delivers with a single. Pinch-runner # 63 Antoan Richardson replaces Pirela at 1st and Brett Gardner is up. Gardner bunts and moves the runner up to 2nd. The final stage is set…

We all know the ending. The Pride of the Yankees of our generation did his job at a moment that was almost too perfect. His classic late inside-out swing lined a single to right and the winning run was scored!!! Yankees win!! DUHHHHHHHH YANKEES WIN!!!!!!

I had great seats at the last game played at the old Yankee Stadium and I’ll never forget how unexpectantly emotional that game was. I was just hit by something that took me to a place of sadness and nostalgia. I was with one my best friends at that game and I could see he got hit too. Being the badasses that we were, we both tried to disguise how we were feeling but it was obvious. Then Derek Jeter took the mic that night. We weren’t seated far from him as he spoke on behalf of his teammates and said goodbye to the stadium. He then expressed how he looks forward to making new memories at the new stadium. Well, last night he did just that. He created another historic Yankee moment that we could all reference and pass on to new generations of fans who need to be reminded of the classy Yankee men who played a kid’s game with dignity, loyalty, and appreciation.

Jeter is humble, private, and is very subtle as he makes all the right moves. Last night during his interview on the field he took the time to wish the Baltimore Orioles good luck in the pennant game and on their chase to win the World Series. That small gesture reminded me of another Yankee legend, Lou Gehrig, who took the time in his famous “luckiest man on earth” speech to recognize his opponent that day -the New York Giants- and thank them. These small acts and others all rolled up into one is what defines CLASS.

Although the Jeter merchandising campaign leaves a sour note with me, I’m still an admirer of the way Derek carried himself for 2 decades in New York City. In the era of spoiled overly paid athletes with rap sheets and where cheating is commonplace, Jeter has remained a professional who always saw the big picture. He doesn’t need tattoos to tell his story – his actions speak loudly. Of course he didn’t do it alone and his parents whose faces are familiar to all Yankee fans deserve a lot of credit.
Jeter commented last night how he had to fight the feeling of getting choked up and crying which is something I’m glad he shared since he successfully held back the tears. It was a moment that solidified the genuineness of his “thank you”. Baseball is just a game played by men who dedicated their lives to perfect their skills and entertain us. It’s an outlet we use to distract us from the chaos and drama of real life. The players are paid handsomely for their talent and we sometimes go overboard in worshipping them. Many of them eventually disappoint society by abusing their fame and fortune or setting bad examples. This is why The Captain will be missed and I hope the next generation of kids find a Derek Jeter to look up to. Thanks Derek.

One Comment to Derek Jeter and the Perfect Ending. There is crying in Baseball.

  1. Mike Dagnese says:


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