I have to admit, I enjoyed Derek Jeter's record tying hit more than I expected last night. My buddy Frank and I had just settled in at my sister's place and flipped on the TV during Brett Gardner's at bat in the bottom of the 7th, with Jeter waiting in the hole.
After his line drive squirted down the right field line and Jeter took of his helmet, acknowledging the crowd while standing on first base, I said, "Wow, it would be awesome to be there right now".
And then I realized that the best thing about being at the Stadium at that moment wouldn't have been hearing the crowd noise firsthand or feeling like I was one of the people Jeter was responding to with the helmet tip or being able to say that I witnessed something special that night. No, the best part of being there would have been that the absence of a coarse voice incessantly reminding me how "special" and "historic" the moment was.
Like Cliff from Bronx Banter said his recap of last night's game, "It’s an impressive accomplishment that might have meant something to me had the YES Network not killed it to death by overhyping it beyond all reason."
For the people in attendance last night, the moment didn't get overhyped. I'm sure there were some graphics up on the scoreboard, but there was no one standing in between them and what happened on the field and the reaction in the stands. No one yelling in their ear, "LOU GEHRIG HAS COMPANY!!", like there was in mine.
When Jeter was standing on first base, Michael Kay said, "The bedrock of this franchise since 1996, the Yankee Captain now stands atop the Yankees' Mount Olympus with Lou Gehrig". And with that, the deification of Derek Jeter was complete.
As Matt demonstrated earlier, if one were to create a hypothetical "Yankees' Mount Olympus", it certainly wouldn't be based on who had the most hits for the franchise. Yet Kay had clearly crafted that phrase for that precise moment and been sitting on it for days, betrayed by the fact that he used it during the intro pieces for the two games of the double header.
Amazingly, it was the radio duo of Sterling and Waldman who were calm and collected by comparison. When Jeter rounded first and the stands started to erupt, Sterling simply said "And Jeter has now tied Lou Gehrig at two thousand, seven hundred and twenty one hits...". Suzyn described the cap tip, what the scoreboard said and the reactions of the fans while Sterling added that the Rays dugout was also applauding Jeter. They focused on the present instead of preemptively trying to declare the moment as historic.
As much as the events of last night helped congeal and quantify Jeter's presence among the greatest Yankees, it also badly exposed the most unbearable aspect of the YES Network.
The network apparently is convinced that it is vital to their success to make sure that every viewer in constantly reminded of the history of the Yankees at every possible turn. The dramatic irony is that YES turns moments that should be enjoyable to excruciating with each attempt to frame its significance, making them more memorable for the ridiculous way in which they are covered than for the moments themselves.