Yesterday redeemed the weekend as we were treated to a great pitcher's duel in the first game and an offensive explosion in the second with the Yanks winning both. I had wondered about the decision to throw both Burnett and Sabathia in a double header as it figures to get one of them out of their typical rest pattern for their next start, but I think we'll all take the two wins now and worry about that later.
Increasingly, the topic of conversation turned towards Derek Jeter as the weekend pressed on. He picked up 5 hits on Saturday and Sunday and looked to chip away at Gehrig's record during the twin bill on Monday. The YES Network even put together an intro that played before each of the games of the doubleheader about his pursuit of the All-Time Yankee hits record saying he is "Forever identified as a champion; a hallmark of Yankee greatness" and has "the consistency of a metronome". They also set a new record for most presumptuous text poll ever during the night game which asked fans if they would rather witness Jeter's 3,000th hit, final game, number retiring or Hall of Fame induction. But Jeter went 0-8 so the quest will have to wait.
Look, every Yankee fan loves Derek Jeter, my generation especially. He came up when I was 11 years old, won the Rookie of the Year when I was 12 making him the perfect sports idol for kids around my age. When we're old and gray, we're going to still remember Jeter fondly because he'll be inexorably tied to our youth.
Maybe it's the contrarian in me, but I have trouble liking things that seemingly everyone else does. If you are a hardcore Yankees fan and someone asks you who your favorite player is, chances are, you'll at least try not to say Derek Jeter. Because he's everyone's favorite player. It's too obvious.
Even dummies like Wallace Matthews can appreciate what Jeter has done. What Matthews can't do, however, is write an even-handed column using "facts" or "relevant statistics" to explain how great Jeter is:
And yet, Jeter - unlike teammates Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, not to mention probably hundreds of others throughout both leagues - resisted the temptation to take advantage of what was encouraged by the Players Association and tacitly approved by Major League Baseball.
That took more strength than any of the juice monsters could ever imagine, or ever hope to muster up.
He never tried to be more than what he was, a contact hitter with an inside-out swing who was as happy to dunk one just over the head of the second baseman. He kept score not by the number of tainted home runs he could hit . . . but by the number of rings he could collect.
He's got the rings, four of them, and he's got the money. But most of all, he has his self-respect and the knowledge that his accomplishments are not beholden to an unscrupulous chemist, a rogue doctor, a failed police officer turned "personal trainer'' or some sleazy gym rat disguised as a clubhouse toadie.
Aside from being wrought with weak clichés and and the same bullshit every boring writer has always said re: Jeter's intangible winnerificness, it's incredibly unequivocal. You'd think that after so many players seemingly above speculation like Andy Pettitte, Rafael Palmero, Manny Ramirez and if you'll recall, A-Rod at one point, have been exposed for using steroids, Matthews might want to steer clear of unilaterally proclaiming his cleanliness. But Matthews thinks he can do that, because Jeter is just different.
Again maybe it's because I'm wired to go against the grain, but I don't like the milestone chases. The flashbulbs going off when he's still 3 hits away from Gehrig's mark don't make sense to me. I'm not a fan of the love Derek Jeter gets for being Derek Jeter®. I enjoy watching him more when the attention subsides and we don't have to incessantly talk about how great he is. Because talking about how much you're enjoying something makes it less enjoyable.