Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jeter truly the King of New York

The Daily News today states the obvious: 2009 was Derek Jeter's year. But Jeter has ruled New York since that Opening Day in 1996 when he gave Yankee fans a glimpse of the greatness he had in store for them. Jeter slugged a home run that day and make the first of many memorable over-the-shoulder catches. His former teammate David Cone, who started that game, referred to it as Jeter's "coming-out party." Boy was it ever!
Flash forward 14 years and Jeter is once again on top of the baseball world. Jeter's historic pursuit of and his eclipsing of the Iron Horse Lou Gehrig's all-time hits record for the New York Yankees was rightly recognized as the Moment of the Year. He also broke Luis Aparicio's record for the most hits by a shortstop in major league history.
Those two achievements will be appropriately recognized on Jeter's Hall of Fame plaque. But for Jeter, there was another event that gave him more joy than these individual accomplishments. It was the Yankees' winning their 27th World Series title (Jeter's 5th title). Even here, Jeter played a big role, hitting .355 in the postseason with a couple of Jeter-esque moments. The Yankees were down two runs early in Game 1 of the division series against a scrappy Minnesota Twins team that had just beat Detroit in a thrilling one-game playoff the night before. Just in case the Twins thought momentum was on their side, there was Captain Jeter to quickly put an end to such notions with a homer that evened the score. It wasn't the first time Jeter has crushed a team with a well-timed blast and knowing Jeter it won't be the last.
But Jeter isn't adored by Yankee fans just for his amazing exploits on the field. It's what Jeter quietly represents: a return to the greatness of legendary Yankee eras of the past, the last hope for purity in a tainted sport, the notion that one man can play his entire career devoted to one team and one city and be the better for it. That is why he is truly the King of New York.

Thanks to Chris.ptacek via Wikipedia for the photo.

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