I remember it well. It was the later innings of this years All Star Game and Marino Rivera was being brought out of the bullpen. If I would have been at home, I would have muted it, and in doing so would have missed one of the best moments of the year. Thankfully, I was at a local restaurant and the more I watched it the more I found myself cheering for him despite the fact that he was a dreaded Yankee. I am 40 years old, and one thing that I have learned is that you do not have to like someone to respect them. I do not like the Yankee pinstripes, but I do have to respect some of their players.
In doing so, I have to say thank you to Derek Jeter, the best postseason position player in baseball history. He has 650 career postseason at bats, he has 5 world championship rings, he holds the records for most postseason games played with 158, the most hits in the postseason with 200 and the most runs scored in the playoff with 111. While the Yankees seemingly buy their way into the postseason year after year, I can’t fault Jeter. When he got to the big dance, he owned the floor. Simply put, if you hold the record in three of biggest categories in baseball postseason history, you are the best postseason player in history.
Thank you Derek Jeter for your loyalty to your team, even if I do not care for them. Not since Tony Gwynn has a marquee player of your caliber stayed with the same team his entire career. I could have purchased a #2 jersey in 1994 and wore it today like you never left.
Thank you Derek Jeter for being a great ambassador for the game, that I and so many others love. You were never linked to drugs, never arrested, never beat your wife, never corked a bat, or lied about doing any of those things just to have them later exposed.
Thank you Derek Jeter for the highlights. Your 3,000th hit was a home run on a 5 for 5 day at the plate. Your ability to backhand the ball behind your body when you are deep in the hole was legendary. Your ability to do a mid-air pirouette as you rocketed the ball across the infield to nail the runner at first left me shaking my head.
Thank you Derek Jeter for playing every play in every game as though the game depended on you. You understood that if your attitude was that you would never be 100% successful, then your actual success rate would be much lower. You played with visible passion and were not afraid to pound your glove with frustration and shout god only knows what into it when you didn’t meet your own expectations of success.
Thank you Derek Jeter for July 1st 2004 and the ultimate play of grit and toughness. I can imagine Mr. Steinbrenner holding his breath and covering his eyes, hoping his million dollar investment would not end up on the disabled list as you went barreling headfirst into the stands for a baseball. I never saw your uniform but a man who has the same love and passion for the game as I do.