Game 151: NYY vs. TOR — “We made too many wrong mistakes”

This was just not going to be a good day for the Yankees. It started off with terrible news, a loss in the Yankee Universe, and ended with terrible news, another kind of loss.

In tonight’s finale in Toronto, the Yankees were looking for a win to close the gap between them and the Blue Jays for that division title. With just a handful of games left, every game matters. It just wasn’t going to happen tonight, it seems. And that’s a shame.

Ivan Nova started for the Yankees tonight, giving it his all — 110 pitches through 5.2 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 6 batters. Nova was only charged for 1 run under his watch, a lingering runner when he left the game in the 6th inning. With 2 outs, Nova walked a batter on his 110th pitch of the evening. He was exhausted and done, and the Yankees were ready to open their bullpen. James Pazos gave up a single to his lone batter before handing the ball over Caleb Cotham. Cotham struggled his way through his batters, giving up an RBI single (again, charged to Nova) and a walk to load the bases before getting that final out of the 6th inning.

Andrew Bailey came on in the 7th inning, promptly giving up a lead-off double. Two outs and an intentional walk later, a big 3-run home run just firmly planted the Blue Jays’ lead. Bryan Mitchell had a great 8th inning, throwing just 8 pitches for a 1-2-3 inning.

And the grand total of Yankees’ offensive impact — 6 hits and a walk. And not one player crossed the plate. Yep, it wasn’t going to be the Yankees’ night in the giant bright blue sea that is Rogers Centre.

Final score in Toronto: 4-0 Blue Jays, Blue Jays win series 2-1.

I woke up this morning, and like most mornings, I immediately reached for my phone and began the trolling through various news and social media apps. Almost instantly, my news feed was packed with some disheartening news — the great Yogi Berra passed away last night. Son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, Yankee, catcher, war veteran, coach, manager, champion, all-star, humanitarian, educator, legend, inspiration, quotable, mentor, and friend — Yogi Berra was so many things to so many people in his 90 years on this earth. (MLB’s obit here, with links to much of the coverage around the league, with MLB alumni and players, press releases, and more.)

And no matter how you saw him or if you were privileged to know him, Yogi was unforgettable, a character even, but always, always, always spoken of with love and affection and sincere kindness because that’s what he showed to everyone. He was really the first to be so inclusive at the beginning of the desegregation era of baseball. Yogi didn’t care what color or belief or position you played, but rather he judged on the content of your character, a living embodiment of MLK’s famous speech made toward the end of Yogi’s career.

May we all be a little more like Yogi Berra, being legacy-bearers of all he was — complete with quirky sayings, a friendly persona, and a sincere passion for our families and dreams. You will be missed, #8, but forever in our hearts. (My previous post here on Yogi as one of my favorite all-time Yankees.)

(Media links on Berra’s passing: The Yankees Remember Yogi; a flashback: an Aflac commercialmemorials across baseball; the Empire State Building; and tributes by Al Leiter, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams, Ron GuidryDerek Jeter, Joe Girardi, and Hal Steinbrenner.)

Go Yankees!

(The next time you’re in the New York area, take a trip out to Montclair State University and visit the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, full of great bits of history and baseball and those great Yogiisms.)

Game 68: DET vs. NYY — #30, #30, and #30

Today featured a trio of gentlemen who have donned the number #30 for the Yankees and did so in extraordinary fashion. Plus, a host of amazing legends in their own rights graced the field for the annual Old Timers’ Day.

Before the regular season game tonight, the Yankees hosted their annual Old Timers’ Day, honoring the legends of the past and recent past who have donned the pinstripes including David Cone, Johnny Damon, Cecil Fielder, Whitey Ford, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Don Larsen, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mel Stottlemyre, Joe Torre, and Bernie Williams; former trainer Gene Monahan; and a representing their husbands widows Arlene Howard (Elston Howard), Helen Hunter (Jim “Catfish” Hunter), Jill Martin (Billy Martin), Diana Munson (Thurman Munson), and Kay Murcer (Bobby Murcer).

And the Yankees also chose today to honor Willie Randolph, a former #30, with a plaque in Monument Park. Randolph played 2nd base for the Yankees 1976-1988, seeing both championship years and those very lean years. Randolph was a crucial member of the Yankees, even taking on a co-captain role with Guidry in the mid-80s before Randolph’s free agency took him elsewhere. Randolph ended up back in pinstripes in 1994 as a coach, eventually earning 4 more rings as part of the new dynasty of the late 90s. Congrats on the honor!

Then the Yankees pulled a surprise on everyone and honored another former #30, Mel Stottlemyre. Stottlemyre pitched for the Yankees 1964-1974, through the end of the Golden Era and into the early first set of years. He then came back as a coach under Joe Torre in 1996, and much like fellow honoree Randolph earned those 4 rings as part of that late-90s dynasty. Stottlemyre was diagnosed with cancer in 2000, and after a short battle, went into remission for a decade before doctors discovered its return in 2011. Stottlemyre has been fighting for four years, getting special permission to attend today’s game and then being surprised with his own plaque in Monument Park. Best of luck in your journey, Mel! We’re praying for you and your family.

And following a fun game of legends, the Yankees of today took the field against the Tigers in front of a sold-out crowd. The current #30 took the mound to start tonight’s game. And Nathan Eovaldi pitched a really great game. It certainly helped that he had quite the run support in the process, but most of his outing was rather reminiscent of his “Nasty Nate” moniker — 93 pitches into the 7th inning, just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, and 4 strikeouts. Honestly, Nasty Nate held onto the game until the 7th inning when he put 2 consecutive runners on base with a lead-off double and a walk, making him responsible for those two runners (who would score).

Even with a double-digit lead (more in a moment), the Yankees opted to give Eovaldi a break and call on recent call-up Bryan Mitchell to finish up the inning and then the game. A force out left runners on the corners, but a ground-rule double scored the Tigers’ first run and a wild pitch scored the second. A single scored the Tigers’ third and final run of the evening before Mitchell got the final 2 outs of the inning. And then pitch a nice 8th and 9th innings, keeping the Tigers from doing any more damage, or rather minor denting into the Yankees’ lead.

Maybe it was the parade of legends that set the mood or dampened the spirits of the visiting Tigers. Whatever it was, it certainly worked on their pitching staff because the Yankees were hitting like crazy from the start of the game. In the 1st, Gardner led off with a big triple and then scored on an error-filled fielder’s choice, where Rodriguez ended up safe at 2nd due to a very sloppy throw to the plate (the Tigers’ 3rd baseman threw the ball at Gardner and it bounced off his helmet as he slid into home plate).

In the 2nd, Didi Gregorius led-off with a nice solo home run into the 1st row of the right field seats. Bases loaded as Drew singled, Gardner hit a 1-out double, and Headley walked. Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly then scored Drew, though the outfielders nearly collided on the catch because they weren’t listening to the other on the “got it” call.

And on into the 3rd, Carlos Beltran led-off with a solo home run. Two outs later, Young and Gardner each singled, ending up on the corners. Headley’s single scored Young, moved Gardner to 3rd, and forced the starting pitcher out of the game. After 85 pitches in less than 3 innings, 8 allowed hits, 7 runs (well, 5 runs and 2 runners on base), and 3 walks, the Tigers’ starter headed back into the visitors’ dugout as the Yankees never stopped their offensive advance.

Still in the 3rd inning, with 2 outs, and runners on the corners, it’s Alex Rodriguez to hit his 3,001st career hit — a 3-run home run. And despite getting that final out of the 3rd, the reliever’s 4th inning wasn’t great for anyone in a Tigers’ uniform. Beltran hit a 1-out solo home run, his 2nd of the game (and from the opposite side of the plate, as a switch hitter). Gregorius and Drew each singled before Chris Young’s single scored Gregorius. And that put the Yankees at double digits on the scoreboard, and the Tigers calling on their second reliever of the game, who didn’t fare all that well either.

In the 5th, he quickly loaded the bases with Headley’s single, Rodriguez’s single, and Teixeira’s walk. Brian McCann’s single kept the bases loaded as Headley scored, and then Beltran’s hit-by-pitch essentially walked in a run and kept those bases loaded. A ground out from Gregorius scored Teixeira (and got the Tigers their first out of the inning), before the Tigers’ pitching staff suddenly remembered how to pitch. From there, the Tigers’ relievers were pretty decent, keeping the Yankees’ roaring offense down to a meow, except for a lead-off solo home run by Chris Young in the 8th.

 

Final score: 14-3, Yankees.

Every single starting player got at least one of the 18 total hits or one of the 6 walks to get on base, and almost everyone scored at least one run. Brett Gardner continued his hitting streak by being a home run short of a cycle. (A “cycle” is hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in a single game; the last Yankee “cycle” was in 2009.) The Yankees took a bit of that legend magic running around the stadium again, combined it with their rising success, general talent, and a bit of luck, and just went for it tonight. Well, that and the 5 home runs they hit tonight.

I’m not a huge fan of blowout games, but even I was getting excited through the first half of this game, watching the score rise higher and higher. I blame #30… you pick which one you want to blame for the Yankee win.

Go Yankees!

Happy Birthday, #7

Reblogging this today… was thinking about this story when I remembered it was Mantle’s 83rd birthday!

Yankees Life

Mantle The Legend, Mickey Mantle, #7
via Google Images

Today would have been the great Mickey Mantle’s 82nd birthday. I’m going to say this right off the bat (pun intended) with full disclosure — my absolute favorite Yankee of all time is the great #7 himself Mickey Mantle. I have lists of my favorite Yankees (which I will disclose and explore more in detail following the World Series, so stay tuned) in many seasons of the Yankees history — like the Classic Era (pre-expansion/pre-1961), Recent Alumni (1961-recently retired), and Current Roster (that changes every year). And while Mantle most definitely tops the Classic Era list, he also tops my All-Time Yankee list. And today is his birthday.

So in honor of his birthday, here’s a nice story about the Mick during his later playing years from a friend of our family:

Patti and Mikey were twins. In the early 60’s, they…

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Game 159: BAL vs. NYY — Jeter says farewell to the Bronx

Jeter-finalYS
photo credit: YES Network

Only for Derek Jeter could the Yankees script such a storybook farewell in the last game he would ever play in Yankee Stadium. It poured all over New York all day long, and suddenly as game time approached, the skies cleared, the tarp came off the field, the drying agent applied to the infield, and it was game time as scheduled in the Bronx. And there would be no rain, but instead a glorious orange sunset streaking across the sky as the Yankees warmed up for their final home game this season.

Hiroki Kuroda started tonight’s game, in what may be his own last game in pinstripes (as he has yet to announce his plans for next year). And despite a rocky start, Kuroda settled down and just put the Orioles in their place. In his 8 innings, he threw 95 pitches, gave up just 3 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 9 Baltimore batters. Those runs came as back-to-back solo home runs in the 1st inning. But after that, Kuroda became the Kuroda the Yankees know and love, just keeping those pesky birds from doing much in front of this sold-out crowd.

The Yankees, however, weren’t going to let the Orioles just have this game. In the 1st inning, Brett Gardner singled and then scored as Jeter doubled. Jeter then stole 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a fielding error that got Brian McCann safely to 1st. The game was tied 2-2 at the end of the 1st inning.

Then came the 7th inning, which has to be the inning where the Orioles realized they weren’t going to win this game. I watched this inning and honestly wondered how a team so sloppy in their defense could possibly be where they are in the standings (much like I did in the first game of this 4-game series). Drew led-off with a strikeout, but ended up safely at 1st due to a passed ball (a rule I still don’t understand exactly, but I’m happy to watch it land in the Yankees’ favor). Ichiro Suzuki then walked, in what could also be his last game in pinstripes, as he too has yet to announce his plans beyond Sunday’s game in Fenway. And then Pirela singled on a bunt and the bases were loaded. Gardner’s groundout gets Drew trying to come home.

Bases are still loaded as the Captain steps up to the plate, and the Orioles bring in a new pitcher as this guy certainly wasn’t doing the job. Jeter actually has a really poor hit on a broken bat, but the Orioles’ shortstop bobbles it badly, so Ichiro and Pirela each score as Jeter and Gardner end up on the corners. Another new pitcher and it’s McCann again for a sacrifice fly to score Gardner.

And it’s 5-2 Yankees.

And into the 9th inning, Jeter takes his place at shortstop for the last time in the Bronx; chants of “Der-ek Je-ter” echo through the stadium, met with a couple of tips of the hat and waves with his glove; David Robertson on the mound for the 9th inning; Yankee fans just praying for those 3 outs to victory. A lead-off walk on base and one out, a 2-run home run to the 2nd deck of left field put the Orioles within 1 run. Another out. And then another left field home run to tie up the game. You could feel the air being vacuumed out of the stadium in an instant. Robertson would get out of the inning with a blown save.

No one moved like the usually do at this point. The guy they came to watch was up 3rd, and his family was right behind the netting, waiting for his final at-bat. Everyone in New York (and I’m guessing across the viewing audience) was praying for something spectacular. Pirela led-off with a single, before speedy Antoan Richardson was pinch-run for him. Gardner’s sacrifice bunt moved Richardson to 2nd. And the world waited. An 86 mph change-up was all it took — a single into right field, Jeter rounding 1st, ball thrown into home, Richardson sliding in… SAFE! WALK-OFF!! It’s what Girardi himself ordered for Jeter’s final at-bat. And when the boss puts in an order, the Yankees deliver.

Game over. Yankees win 6-5. And the madness in the Bronx began. It was as if they had won a Championship. The entire team celebrated, hugging their Captain goodbye. Former Yankees Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Gerald Williams, and Bernie Williams were waiting to celebrate with former manager Joe Torre. Interviews, time alone on the field, greeting his family, more interviews, the customary Gatorade shower (by Gardner and Sabathia), and the final walk down the dugout steps to the clubhouse for the final time. And that was it.

Another farewell that makes me a little sad is that with Jeter’s final at-bat also goes the “Voice of the Yankees” Bob Sheppard. Before Sheppard passed away in 2010, three years after he stepped away from the microphone in 2007, Jeter specifically requested that his at-bats at Yankee Stadium were always going to be Sheppard’s voice announcing him: “Now batting, number 2, Derek Jeter…. number 2”. It’s as nearly familiar to any Yankee fan as Jeter himself. So as we in New York bid farewell to the one announced, we also bid farewell to the Voice that echoed through Yankee Stadium since 1951 announcing the likes of DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Rizzuto, and Jackson. It’s part of the old game that now fades into the history books and our memories.

Go Yankees!

Game 141: KC vs. NYY — It’s Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx

I guess you could say that the best part of this picture perfect day was the pre-game festivities because the game itself wasn’t much to talk about. Everyone went into today knowing it was going to be “Derek Jeter Day” at Yankee Stadium, but a proclamation from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio made it “Derek Jeter Day” all over the five boroughs — certainly an honor deserved from someone who has contributed much to the city for the better part of the last two decades.

The ceremony began with long-time Yankee broadcasters John Sterling (radio) and Michael Kay (TV) taking turns announcing the special guests and introducing the gifts, emceeing the entire “not-a-farewell-tour” stop in the Bronx. Representing the very large family of the retiring shortstop were his maternal grandmother (escorted by Girardi); his parents; and (escorted by Sabathia) his sister (and Turn 2’s president) and his adorable nephew (who once again stole the show with his own tip of the cap). Then came the familiar faces — Rob Manfred (baseball’s newly elected commissioner), Harold Reynolds, Reggie Jackson, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hideki Matsui, Joe Torre, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, and Gerald Williams. (And for those wondering, Andy Pettitte was away on a trip with his sons and regrettably couldn’t be in New York for the event.)

(Also, many of these guests were part of a pre-game press conference where they paid their tributes to Jeter. Here is some of what they said.)

Following all those introductions, the Yankees invited alumni and current Jeter’s Leaders onto the field, streaming in from center field to the infield to stand with the other guests. One person commented that this is truly where Jeter’s legacy is felt because of the active involvement of the Turn 2 Foundation in the lives of kids (and former kids) and their communities in Kalamazoo, New York, and Tampa. A video of Turn 2 was shown on the big board, showing that impact and how its Leaders are effectively changing their world.

After a “highlights” reel was shown, the man of the day himself jogged his way out to the infield to greet every one of the special guest and wave to the cheering crowd and to the opposing dugout where the Royals clambered over the barrier to give Jeter his due with their own standing ovation (complete with cell phone cameras).

Once the cheering died down (something that really never happened fully until the middle of the game a few hours later), it ramped back up again as Jeter was “surprised” by a handful of very special guests. First were Cal Ripken and Dave Winfield. Then as a tie in with the campaign from the All-Star Game (#RE2PECT), astronauts Steve Swanson, Reid Wiseman, and Alex Gerst tipped their caps from the International Space Station about 200 miles above Earth. This could only be topped by the founder of the #RE2PECT campaign himself — Michael Jordan.

Then came the gifts. Joan Steinbrenner (George’s widow) presented the proclamation from the mayor. Current trainer Steve Donohue rolled out a new version of the massage therapy machine Jeter always joked about “stealing” when he retired; no “stealing” necessary now. Yankees’ CIO Felix Lopez walked out a framed art that had all 14 patches Jeter has won in his All-Star Games, with the patch of his retiring logo the Yankees are wearing this month in the center. Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal presented Jeter with the Yankees’ donation to Turn 2 in the amount of $222,222.22. And Hal Steinbrenner, his wife Christina, and a handful of Steinbrenner grandchildren gave Jeter a custom-made Waterford Crystal, etched with the retiring logo and an engraved message from the Yankees.

And then Jeter addressed the crowd, speaking mainly to the fans. It was rather reminiscent of the speech he gave on Closing Day of the Old Yankee Stadium just a few years ago. He has been a fan-favorite (even outside of New York) because he does remember that the fans are an integral part of baseball. In this era where it seems so easy for professional athletes to be so involved in their sport or their endorsements or their personal lives, it’s nice that someone remembers that without the fans, they don’t have a job. It’s the fans that buy the tickets, the concessions, the jerseys, the things they endorse; and it’s the fans that cheer or jeer from the seats.

(You can view the entire speech here or the transcript here. Also, this is a link to the entire 42 minutes of the pre-game ceremony.)

And then it was “play ball”…

I’m going to be as diplomatic and positive about this as I possibly can. It wasn’t a good game. And it’s not just on the Yankees’ side of thing. No, the Royals weren’t good either. And it’s only by some really sloppy defensive errors that anyone actually won today. The Royals just landed on the less fuzzy side of today’s lollipop. But let’s face it, the entire lollipop was awfully fuzzy.

Shane Greene got the start today and barely eked out 5 innings. For being so good in so many of his starts this year, it’s been rather disappointing to see his struggles have been more consistent than his success as of late. 90 pitches took him those 5 innings, but it was really the first few innings that tried and tired the young pitcher. He allowed 5 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (though none were technically earned), and struck out 4 Kansas City batters.

In the 2nd, back-to-back singles put runners on base, but 2 outs later, it was looking better for Greene. But a little dribbler back to the mound had Greene really miss the easy out at 1st and scored a runner. Then in the 3rd, the lead-off batter reached on a fielding error (Beltran couldn’t hold onto the ball), stole 2nd base, and scored on a single. That was 2 unearned runs. But runs, be it earned or unearned, always count toward a win, like they did for the Royals today.

Adam Warren took the 6th and 7th innings in relief of Greene, keeping the Royals planted there, while waiting for the offense to wake up. Shawn Kelley’s 8th followed Warren’s pattern, even getting himself out of a bit of a jam in anticipation of a rally sometime soon. Then Outman and Rogers split the 9th, but that offensive rally never came. The Yankees ended up with 9 baserunners via 4 hits, 4 walks, and an error, but nothing to show for it. The Royals took yet another “unearned win” today with their score of 2-0, taking the series 2-1 and the overall match-up between the teams this year 4-3 (the first time they’ve won a season series against the Yankees since 1999, or so I was told).

Yes, it was a shame that on “Derek Jeter Day” the Yankees couldn’t come up with a win. But it’s the way it is.

I mean, there’s still a nice chunk of the season left to play and a postseason race to catch-up in… so it’s still a lot of “play ball” without completely saying goodbye to the Captain just yet.

Go Yankees!

Game 127: CHW vs. NYY — Happy Joe Torre Day

To me, one of the iconic Yankee greats will always be Joe Torre. It is under his leadership that I fell in love with the Yankees and learned to appreciate their history and legacy and amazingness. I cannot think back to my later growing up years, watching the Yankees win championship after championship after championship after championship, without thinking of Mr. Torre. They are forever intertwined in my memories.

So, it was no surprise on the year Torre is elected to the Hall of Fame that the Yankees continue to honor the legacy of the man who was the most successful team manager in recent history (at least in my lifetime) by selecting today to memorialize him in Monument Park and retire his #6 alongside other legends like Rivera, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Maris, and Berra. Showing up today to honor him included an All-Star lineup of both Yankee fame and Yankee rivals — players David Cone, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Hideki Matsui, and Bernie Williams; coaches Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Lee Mazzilli, and Jose Cardenal; and rival managers Jim Leyland and (recent Cooperstown inductee himself) Tony La Russa. Current manager Joe Girardi presented Torre’s plaque to him, and Derek Jeter (the only guy in full pinstripes on the field prior to the game) made sure to give his first MLB manager a big hug. Torre returned the sentiment and noted that with his retired number there was only one more single digit left from Monument Park… for now.

(Torre talking about his experiences today with the YES Network broadcasters during the game is very worth the link.)

And then the Yankees played the White Sox, led by Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda threw 101 pitches over his 6 innings, giving Chicago 5 hits, 2 runs, and 2 walks, and striking out 6. The White Sox struck first in the 2nd inning, with back-to-back doubles that led to an easy run scored. Chicago’s second run scored was an RBI single in the 5th inning.

On the other side of things, that pesky run the White Sox got in the 2nd was quickly regained in the bottom of that inning by the Yankees. With no outs and the bases loaded, a ground out scored a run to tie up the game. And in the 4th inning, the Yankees just pounced. McCann led off with a double; he and a walked Beltran scored on Martin Prado’s double. As Kuroda left the mound in the middle of the 6th inning, the score was 3-2 Yankees.

But that really wasn’t enough cushion for a win for them (and can we call the bottom of the 6th inning the “challenged inning”?). Carlos Beltran led off with a solo home run (that was rightly upheld after a review). And then Prado hit a double — originally ruled an out, challenged by the Yankees, overturned at MLB HQ, and ended up a double. Prado moved to 3rd on Headley’s ground out and then scored on Stephen Drew’s sacrifice fly.

It was now 5-2 Yankees.

Shawn Kelley took the 7th inning and struggled some only getting 2 outs, allowing an RBI groundout to push the score to 5-3 Yankees. Failing to get that 3rd out of the inning, it was Betances to the rescue; 4 pitches and they’re out of the inning. (Can we all just agree that a 6’8″ pitcher would make a great new superhero? I claim rights Marvel/DC/other comics I don’t know because I’m not a 14-year-old boy.) Warren’s quick 8th inning set up Robertson’s 34th save with a quick 15-pitch 9th inning.

The Yankees handed in a win on Joe Torre Day. And as happy as I am that coincides, I never need a reason to be happy for a win. I mean, who doesn’t like winning?

I guess it was reminiscent of Yankee days under Torre’s leadership. In that case, how about the next 36 games are played for him so they can head into October with the zeal and confidence of that late 1990s dynasty team. I miss those days sometimes, and today might be just what I needed to remember all those good things. Sometimes you just need to “remember when” so you can “hope for whatever”… a little faith, a little hope, but a whole lot of love. Because if you know me at all, that’s about right for me and that’s about right for my boys. And the memories of Joe’s Boys.

Go Yankees!

“The great thing about being a Yankee is you’re always a Yankee.”

Jeter-presser
Derek Jeter greets the media
via Yankees.com

Derek Jeter didn’t have a press conference today. No, it was called a “media availability”. There wasn’t a written statement or family present or anything that really signified an official retirement conference. Basically, a Q&A between reporters and the Captain, something he alluded to being in good faith that the media will then let him have the season to play and do what he loves best — win.

It didn’t really feel like one of those press conferences we’ve seen before from his Core Four partners-in-crime. It was just Jeter almost completely re-stating what he said in his Facebook post last week. He’s fine; he’s healthy; he wants to play as many games as possible this year; he has other aspirations after baseball that he’s ready to start pursuing (after this season, though); and he really wants to focus on playing the rest of the season and not have to answer a million continuous questions about his decision to retire at the end of the 2014 season.

You can read the full transcript of the “media availability” here. And the full Q&A video is below:

Jeter’s original decision and announcement has elicited mostly supportive responses from fans, players, coaches, executives, and reporters across the league, and today seemed to continue the accolades.

After a clearly un-Jeter-like 2013 season, playing only 17 games, 2014 is shaping up to be a much better season for both Jeter and his team, something he clearly desires to remind everyone is what he’d prefer to think about. Jeter knows what it means to be part of a team, so much so that he practically dismissed the team that was just hanging out to watch his media event. It should be noted that no player made a move for the door; they, like everyone else, didn’t want to miss a moment of the event.

I do think back to Rivera’s pre-season press conference though. He mentioned that he only had a few bullets left in the tank to throw, and he felt that 2013 was going to be it. There is a minor echo of that in Jeter’s sentiment, more along the lines of coming to the reality of “time” and how limited a player’s career really is in the span of a lifetime. Though he believes he has more than a year left to play in him, it’s very telling that he’d prefer to go out on top and on his own terms. And that should say a lot to up-and-coming players who have grown up knowing nothing but Jeter on the field. Professional athletic careers are just a small part of one’s life, so when you get someone like Jeter who’s played 23 seasons for one team (including his minor league days), it’s an exception. But still, he’s only turning 40, which may be old in baseball, but still very young in life.

And I think that’s what the whole “event” today has really reminded people. Fans and the media often only see the players as players, maybe sometimes forgetting they have real lives and real dreams that aren’t baseball related just like everyone else. Sure, baseball has been so much a part of the lives of players that it’s hard to ever really completely divorce yourself from the game you love. Which may be why you see so many players become coaches, managers, color commentators, spokesmen, special assistants, or even executives. I guess the world that watched the young kid from Michigan (who became the dynamic Rookie of the Year in 1996 and World Champion) is now going watch what the man from Florida (who became a baseball legend in his 20 seasons with the Yankees and won 5 rings, and hopefully 6) to see how he will further impact his world through his foundation and through whatever dreams may come.

Go Yankees!