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Friday, September 26, 2014

All Washed Up

Derek Jeter's penultimate home game has come and gone. He is still retiring. The Yankees are still not going to the playoffs. The Baltimore Orioles are still the 2014 A.L. East champs.

The biggest non-story of the night was the biggest story of the days leading up to last night's game: the weather. A 50/50 chance of rain was forecast for Thursday evening, threatening to rain on the Jeter Parade and disappoint thousands of fans who paid a steep premium on the secondary market to be in the audience for this last goodbye.


The waterworks help up in the sky. They also held up in The Captain's eyes at the start the the came. As the Bronx crowd chanted "GREAT-EST EV-ER!" after the opening pitch, the jumping of Jeter's nerves were visible in the expression on his face. After launching an RBI double in his first at bat followed by stealing third base and eventually scoring, to the delight of the crowd (chanting "DE-REK JE-TER! - clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!), he appeared more settled down.

During Jeter's career, the Yankees missed the playoffs three times: in 2008, 2013, and this season. Jeter was injured for all but 17 games last season and the Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention during a season-closing road trip at the end of the 2008 season. The Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the 2014 playoffs after Wednesday afternoon's loss against the Orioles. This means that Jeter's career home finale was the first and only home game in his career - spanning 20 MLB seasons - that was completely meaningless for any Yankees' postseason implications.


With all of the build up over the evening and the weather and the absence of the Yankees from the postseason, etc., one may expect that Jeter may show up and go an unremarkable 1-for-something and perhaps trot off of the field in the top of the 9th inning to 50,000 fans standing and cheering. If you haven't seen any highlight shows, Jeter served up one more highlight reel for the fans.

The Yankees led by three going into the top of the 9th only to watch the lead evaporate on a two-run home run by Adam Jones followed by an improbable two-out, game-tying solo home run by Chris Pearce. Keep in mind that, at this point, Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda had retired 16 consecutive Orioles batters. Joe Girardi inexplicably elected to summon closer David Robertson, who gave up the aforementioned booty, instead of rolling with the red hot Kuroda. The notion that Jeter would get an at-bat in the 9th was improbable.

The rest is history. Following a lead-off single and a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second, Jeter came up to bat. The first pitch was served right down Broadway and Jeter delivered a game-winning RBI single to right field. Storybook moment: delivered. Game over....

While the Mr. November and the New York Yankees will not be a part of October baseball, last night's Yankee Stadium sendoff was noteworthy event. Yours truly is no Yankee fan, but I have a profound appreciation for milestone moments in sports. In addition, Derek Jeter is one of the all-time greats in American sports and a class act. In spite of the anti-climactic end to the Yankees' season, Last night's final Bronx farewell was a fitting finish for The Captain.    

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