Pinstripes With a Side of Snark: Week 2
Greetings Yankee fans, Twitter followers, and non-sports fan friends who’ve simply clicked this link because I posted it, welcome to Pinstripes With a Side of Snark: Week 2. Beyond the normal weekly recap feature, today’s article could easily be subtitled “Brian Yammers on About The Left Side of The Infield” as a vast majority of today’s discussion is going to center on Derek Jeter‘s 3000th hit and a bit on the Alex Rodriguez surgery situation. Let’s jump in, shall we:
The last week before the All-Star break didn’t exactly start out in grand fashion for the 2011 Yankees. Even with the return of Captain Derek Jeter, the team seemed to play a somewhat listless brand of baseball in Cleveland the first three days of the week, with the offense breaking out during Tuesday’s 9-2 victory, but being virtually completely shutdown by Josh Tomlin on Monday, and Justin Masterson on Wednesday, once again highlighting the feast or famine nature of the offense that’s plagued the team this year. Not that the Monday/Wednesday pitchers did much to help their cause, with AJ Burnett surrendering a huge 3-run homer to Austin Kearns on Monday, and an ineffective DL return from Phil Hughes two days later. Granted, Jeter’s “Quest for 3000” may have been a small distraction for the team in Cleveland (the captain got three hits in the series, leaving him 3 away) but the issues that cropped up in the series have been there all season, long before the 3000 chase was an issue. On top of that, midweek brought the news that Alex Rodriguez would most likely need surgery on his knee, sidelining him for at least a month. Whatever the case, the Yankees didn’t look their strongest as they came home for a huge series with division rival Tampa Bay over the weekend, a feeling that was exacerbated by a loss in Thursday’s Series opener. After Friday’s rainout, the Yankees came into Saturday 1-3 on the week, and looked to be limping their way into the break, however the collective will of two specific Yankees put a stop to that. As will be detailed below, Derek Jeter took the team on his back Saturday. The Captain went 5-5 with a HR (his 3000th hit), 2 RBI, and a run scored, almost solely powering the team to a 5-4 victory. Some, myself included, thought there was going to be a “hangover” effect loss on Sunday after Jeter’s heroics, but CC Sabathia made sure it didn’t happen, notching a beastly complete game shut-out for his second win of the week in the team’s 1-0 victory. The 2-1 series victory over Tampa gives the Yankees a wee bit of breathing room in the Wild Card standings (it’s never to early too start thinking about these things) and combined with Jeter’s 3000, reversed the team’s fortunes, sending them into the break on a high, which they can hopefully ride into next weekend’s second half-opening series with Toronto.
I’m going to start this section with a disclaimer: I’m a huge Derek Jeter guy. He’s not only my favorite baseball player, but my favorite athlete period, and easily the biggest Yankee icon since Mantle. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m blind. He’s certainly not the player he was even two years ago, and he’ll probably need to be moved out of the top of the order sooner rather than later, but I still think he has a good deal to contribute to the team, and he certainly showed a glimpse of that this past week. After going 0-4 in his first game back from the DL, Jeter got four hits over his next three games, three of said were the type of booming doubles that have been lacking from his game the last two years. With Friday’s rainout, Jeter was left sitting on 2998 going into Saturday afternoon’s game. After collecting a single to right in his first AB, the Stadium was filled with a palpable electricity for Jeter’s next AB, and the captain didn’t disappoint. In true Jetarian fashion, he launched a game-tying HR into the left-field bleachers, becoming only the second man to reach hit #3000 with a long-ball. The entire stadium erupted with a a jubilation never seen in the new building, with many saying it was even more exuberant than the clinching Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. The entire team mobbed Jeter at the plate, in a surreal scene that looked like a third inning, game -tying walk-off, and the crowd chanted his name the rest of the day. Jeter wasn’t nearly done though, coming up with three more hits, including driving in the game-winning run in the eighth. It truly was a magical day in the Bronx, though I think my personal favorite moment came after the game. As Jeter was being interviewed after the game by Kim Jones, the entire stadium restarted the “Der-Ek Je-Ter” chant, and the Captain become visibly choked up, and saluted the crowd with emotion rarely seen from him. From a historical perspective, the 3000th hit put Derek Jeter into elite company, as he’s only the 28th man in MLB history to reach the magic number, and the first New York Yankee. Speaking of the Yankees, let’s look at Derek Jeter’s accomplishments for the franchise: Only Yankee with 3000 hits, most hits as a Yankee (obviously), most hits at the Old Yankee Stadium, 5 World Series Titles, 7 AL pennants. Looking over that list, I don’t see how anyone can argue that Jeter isn’t a Top 5 Yankee of all time. In my opinion, the list has to go Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle, Jeter. For what it’s worth, my father would put it Ruth, Gerhig, Dimaggio, Berra, Jeter, which is huge for him to say as Mickey was his childhood hero. Whatever the case may be, we witnessed something very special on Saturday.
I’ve always had a soft-spot for Alex Rodriguez. Granted, he’ll never be the hero to me that Derek Jeter is, but I honestly think he’s gotten a very raw deal in this city, and with this fanbase, but that’s a blog for another time. Suffice to say though, I was overjoyed that over the first few weeks of this season, it looked like Alex was en route to MVP award #4 (#3 as a Yankee) but injuries have taken there toll on him, culminating in the news that he has a tear in his knee, and will miss at least the next month due to surgery. Granted, he supposedly could have played through it, but I don’t see why anyone would want him to. The injury has destroyed his power numbers (this year will surely be the end of his impressive 30/100 streak), and playing on it could risk further damage. At this point, I’m just hoping for a speedy recovery, so that a fresh A-Rod could be a force in the final month of the season, and hopefully a playoff run.
Alright, that should do it for me this week. As always, please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section or on my Twitter (WWW.Twitter.COM/Titan4Ever2488) See you next week for an All-Star Game discussion, and a recap of the Toronto series.