Yesterday, Derek Jeter, long time shortstop for the New York Yankees, played in his last game at Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Stadium is the second to last stop in the farewell tour that began at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros in April to honor the career of a man who played two decades in pinstripes.
At each stop along the way teams have paid their respects to Jeter by bestowing gifts upon him, and making donations to his charity.
The final stop on the tour will be Fenway Park this weekend and it will be interesting to see what kind of tribute Red Sox Nation has for the Captain.
While fans throughout baseball have saluted Jeter all season long, yesterday was about saying goodbye to the hometown fans at Yankee Stadium.
Even unfavorable weather forecasts that threatened to move the game to Monday, or cancel it altogether, could not dampen the spirits of fans who paid well above face value on tickets to be able to say that they were there when Jeter said farewell to Yankees Stadium against the Baltimore Orioles.
In the end the rain stayed away, and the Yankees defeated the Orioles 6-5 thanks to the retiring bat of Derek Jeter.
While Derek Jeter’s career was certainly full of big moments, one could argue that securing a victory in his last game at Yankee Stadium with a walk off single was one of the biggest, if not one that he will remember the most.
There are those fans of conspiracies and hats made out of tin foil who are sure to claim that the fix was in to allow Jeter to hit that game-winning walk off single since a) baseball loves happy endings and b) Orioles Manager Buck Showalter was Jeter’s first manager with the Yankees.
Could the fact that Derek Jeter drove in the winning run in his last at bat at Yankee Stadium be called just a little too convenient? Sure.
But as Peter Parker’s uncle Joe would say “With great power comes great responsibility” and for Jeter that responsibility is helping his team win when placed in positions to do so.
It also helped that the Yankees bunted a runner into scoring position ahead of Jeter’s at bat to avoid risk of him hitting into a double play.
While the ending was certainly worthy of a Hollywood sparks falling on the field from the lights kind of thing, to those tin foil loving conspiracy fans I say that there is no way that the game was fixed to allow Jeter to win it.
One need only look at what happened to Charlie Hustle himself, Pete Rose, to see what baseball thinks about game fixing.
For those too young to remember, Rose received a lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games he managed since it was believed that he could somehow manipulate the results in a manner favorable to his wagers.
Another example of what Major League Baseball thinks about throwing games, further back than Rose, is the Black Sox scandal where several players of the Chicago White Sox were banned for life for fixing the World Series.
Beyond the threat of being banned for life for throwing a game, another issue that shoots holes in the “they let him win” argument from the tin foil hat society is the fact that, while Buck Showalter may have managed Jeter for 15 games 20 years ago, his current team, the Baltimore Orioles, are trying to secure home field advantage in the playoffs.
A team looking for home field advantage in the playoffs does not intentionally lose games, even if it makes for good Hollywood stories.
So to be 100 percent clear the fix was not in last night to allow Derek Jeter to score the winning run of the game.
It just worked out that way and gave Derek Jeter another lasting Yankee Stadium memory.
Much like Mariano Rivera did during his farewell tour last year, Jeter has said that he wants his final on-field memories to be from Yankee Stadium despite the team still having three games left in the season.
Jeter will be available as a designated hitter during the series against the Boston Red Sox, but fans expecting to see him standing at the shortstop position at Fenway Park will be greatly disappointed much like the fans at Minute Maid Park were last year when Rivera decided to stay in the bullpen and not make a curtain call appearance against the Astros.
While Derek Jeter’s career will end with a few plate appearances in the designated hitter’s role against the Boston Red Sox, instead of in another World Series as many had hoped at the start of the season, few other players in the history of baseball have had as much success or had the type of fan base as number 2 had.
While Derek Jeter’s career is ending the debate regarding whether he will be the first unanimously chosen member of the Baseball Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in five years is just beginning.
Between now and the time the Hall of Fame voters fill out their ballots in 2019, Derek Jeter will try to become a normal person and do the things that he put off during a 20-year career in pinstripes. Only Derek Jeter knows what that next chapter will be.
What is known is that for 20 seasons, in one of the most intense environments around, by all accounts Derek Jeter played the game of baseball in a way that he can be proud of and in a manner that many would be wise to duplicate.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get ready for the last weekend of the regular season.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson