Sunday, September 14, 2014
Posted by el duque at 7:41 AM
Yesterday, in his final at bat - mired in an 0-19 slump - he tapped back to the pitcher, a routine play that happens in full view of the batter. Almost all MLB hitters jog it out - even the ones not named Cano - and nobody complains. But Jeter didn't jog. He busted it, sprinted down the line. Then he kept his head down, while running to the dugout - 0 for 20, his average dipping to levels never seen in September.
Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away...
The FOX cheerleaders started suggesting excuses, with the exasperation of Lucille Ball standing over an accelerating chocolate assembly line. Somebody said Jeter hasn't been the same since Joba Chamberlain hit him on the elbow, a month ago. That's the kind of excuse that cuts in two directions, because if Jeter was really hurt, he should have rested rather than tank the Yankees season. Then again, did he really have the option of calling in sick? The Yankees built the 2014 season around his farewell tour, and everybody knows that in a nostalgia concert, the headliner has to come out for the final song. For 20 years, he's been the soul of the Yankees. He is beyond our judgment or critique. He is just Jeter.
But it kills me to see him staggering to the finish line.
In another universe, Nick Swisher caught that line drive two autumns ago, instead of swallowing his adam's apple and letting it bounce to the right field scoreboard. As a result, two plays later Jeter didn't range to his left and snap his ankle like a breadstick. In that world, he retired with Mariano at the end of 2013, and who knows what happened, considering how close they came last season to reaching the wild card? Replace Alfredo Gonzalez and Eduardo Nunez with a guy who hits .300, and it's easy to imagine the Yankees playing last October...
Ah, but this is just self-torture. We don't get to choose our universes, do we? We can only imagine them, skittering on the edges of our consciousness. What happened yesterday was that Derek Jeter went 0-4. He tapped to the pitcher, and he busted it to the end. Not everybody does that.
Damn, it feels like November. This farewell crap has gone way too long.