Last season, the Yankees had to say goodbye to one of their legends, Mariano Rivera, who retired after playing 19 seasons, all with the Yankees. This upcoming season they will bid a farewell to another legend and probably their biggest legend in recent memory, Derek Jeter. Now I am no fan of Jeter or the Yankees but I have nothing but respect for this future hall of famer. Jeter has destroyed my beloved Orioles more than any other team throughout his career. He has a .304 batting average against the O's with a .374 OBS and .874 OPS. He has 341 hits in his career against the O's and 202 runs scored, most against any team. For 19 years I have seen this man dominate my hometown team, who was a bad team for 15 out of those 19 seasons, so my disdain for this man should not be surprising. I will say it will be bittersweet seeing Mr. November aka Captain Clutch walk away from the game.
Jeter entered the league May 29th 1994, playing his first game against the Seattle Mariners. He went 0-6 but came back the following day and got his first 2 major league hits and runs. Jeter would only play in 15 games his inaugural season, batting .250 but the following season is when he began his great career. While winning AL Rookie of the Year, Jeter batted a .314 with 108 runs and 78 RBIs batting in the 9th spot. In the postseason, manager Joe Torre, put Jeter in the leadoff spot and it wasn't a bad idea. In Game 1 of the ALCS against the Orioles, Jeter hit a fly ball that was interfered by a fan, 12 year old Jeffrey Maier to be exact, which resulted in a home run. If it wasn't for Maier leaning over to catch the ball, O's right fielder Tony Torasco would have caught the ball with 2 outs and a 4-3 lead for the O's but instead, it resulted in Jeter's 1st postseason home run.
The Yankees would beat the O's in 5 games and then go on to defeat the Braves in the World Series, claiming their first title since 1978. Of course that catapulted Jeter into super-stardom because not only was he a great player, batting .360 with 12 hits and 22 runs (61 AB), but he was also young and good looking. From then on Jeter was the Yankees lead-off man and new face of the franchise and young rising star of the league with A-Rod. Jeter and the Yankees would dominate the rest of the 90s and early 2000s with postseason appearances in Jeter's first 11 seasons, resulting in 6 trips to the World Series and coming home with 4 of them. In the World Series is where Jeter made a name for himself. In 38 World Series games, Jeter has 50 hits and 32 runs, most out of any player in the past 60 years. Jeter was never a home run hitter but he always came up with the biggest hits and the most clutch times. It was like after hitting that "home run" in the 96' ALCS, he became addicted to the feeling of being clutch.
That home run was during the 2000 World Series against the Mets. Jeter showed out in that series, with a 2 home runs, a triple, and 2 doubles while .409. He was voted World Series MVP and the Yankees won their 3rd straight World Series and 4th in Jeter’s era. By now Jeter has become the most influential player of the MLB in the past 30 years, nobody playing in more World Series games or with more rings. Jeter doesn’t have the monstrous numbers but he do have the most memorable moments, most of them coming in the World Series. He didn’t dominate his sport like Jordan did with basketball but he was consistently the best shortstop in the game throughout his career and he was the biggest baseball player throughout his career. Only player with more notoriety than Jeter would be A-rod and most of that attention is negative. You rarely heard Jeter’s name in scandals and if you did it was because he was a ladies man. Jeter is the only baseball player that comes to mind, for me, that will not be remember necessarily for his numbers, but more so for his winning and moments. That is rare in a sport that depends on numbers. I wish Jeter a healthy and productive final season but at the end of the day GO O’S