Just when we thought Derek Jeter has given us all the memories we need for a lifetime he delivers again. Last night’s final home game for Jeter was the most anticipated meaningless game in New York Yankees history. By meaningless I mean that the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention and had nothing to play for. Except for their captain.
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Yankees would somehow pull this out. Even though the game started with back-to-back by the Baltimore Orioles everyone in the stadium stayed faithful. Jeter’s last first at-bat was a shot into the gap for a RBI double. That seemed like Jeter’s final hoorah. It wasn’t.
In the bottom of the seventh inning with the game tied and at you guessed it, 2-2, Jeter comes up with the bases loaded. Jeter hits a broken bat grounder to shortstop which gets thrown into the outfield. Jeter gets the go ahead RBI. Not a perfect last moment, but it would suffice.
In the ninth inning with a three-run lead Yankees manager brought in his “closer” David Robertson who of course gave up three runs to tie the game up at 5-5. Jeter will get one more at-bat. The first batter hits a single. The next bunted the runner over setting up Jeter to be the hero one more time. One more storybook ending to an already legendary tale. Bob Sheppard’s voice, being heard for last time ever, comes over the PA “now batting for the Yankees, number two, Derek Jeter”. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” then comes on as Jeter takes the slow walk to the plate. Jeter digs into the box one more time and whacks the first pitch he sees to right field for the game-winning hit. Jeter was serenaded by the sell-out crowd and greeted by his dynasty buddies Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada and of course the Godfather himself Joe Torre.
That’s just the way any fan imagined that happening. He did it with hit number 3,000. He did it in the World Series and he did it on his way out. Captain Clutch supplying his fans with one more moment for a lifetime. Jeter walked around the field one more time, soaking in the moment one final time. In his postgame press conference he said he didn’t understand why the fans were chanting “Thank You Jeter” because to him he was just doing his job. That is why he is great. That is why he was The Captain. That is why he will be sorely missed next season and beyond. Thank you Captain, you’ve given this city everything you got and we’ll never forget it.