Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Mr. Jeter: If you want to see a final post-season, you will have to do it yourself

Dear Sir,

Last week, the world shuddered in sadness over the death of Robin Williams. Almost immediately, viral videos appeared showing people climbing onto their desks and re-enacing a scene from Williams' first movie, reciting Walt Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain." You couldn't watch without tears forming.

And every time I saw one, I also thought about you.

Sir, your fearful trip is almost done. Unfortunately, the Yankee ship has not weathered every rack, and the prize certainly has not been won. Yet we are still floating...

Yesterday, after a vicious fastball nearly removed your front teeth, you drove in the winning run against Tampa. Joe Girardi said later he's never heard your name chanted so loudly in a foreign park. I didn't believe my memory book could hold another Jeter entry, and - truth be told - yesterday's game may not matter enough to justify its own page... that is... unless something crazy happens.

Unless yesterday turns out to have been a fulcrum point.

Sir, I don't know how to put this, but remember how Hal Steinbrenner was going to spend $500 million last winter to surround you with stars, so the Yankees could guarantee your final post-season? Well, so much for that! The money's gone, the stars fizzled, and nobody wearing pinstripes is going to prop you up for the stretch run. To win a World Series this year, the Yankees must: a) Go on a hellish winning streak to take the final Wild Card slot, b) Win that game on the road against a rested starter and lineup, c) Win a five-game shoot-out against Oakland or Detroit - teams we have no business beating, d) Stay hot through the ALCS against whomever is left, and e) My God, why bother? Nobody expects us to make "a," much less "e." 

Sir, if anything good is going to happen in 2014, you're the one who must deliver it.

No, it's not fair. I know you're feeling old. Yes, you're body aches. Good grief, nobody expected you to still be hitting .275 by now. They wrote your obit in April. Some were even furious that you returned, thinking your "farewell tour" would sidetrack the victory bandwagon. (That's a joke.) But now, with 41 games left - with 41 bullets in the chamber - it's up to you.

Over the last month, can you hit, say, .400?

You don't have to hit .400 with power. Think 40 hits in 100 at bats. A bunch of doubles. Maybe 10 walks? A triple or two? A couple sacrifice flies? If you can't do .400, how about .350?

I hate to ask. You've already done your bit. At this point, you should be sitting back, writing speeches, and siring kids with new supermodels.

But here we are, tugging at your elbow one more time...

Sir, one more great month?

O, captain, my captain... rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung, for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths, for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call the swaying mass, their eager faces turning...

One more month?

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