From the desk of: BLAME CARLOS MAY
new york YANKEES: The Captain Leads His Team Against Rangers. Derek Jeter WAS the Lone Star In Texas.
When he reached the 100 at-bat mark, Derek Jeter had 25 hits. Now, numbers have a way of distorting truth but can be equally revealing. In either case, they only tell a story after the fact. Jeter was only 5 hits away from a .300 average. But his hits were mostly of the singles variety. Two handfuls of those were of the infield variety. And only two went for doubles.
There has to be frustration accompanying a start like the one he's endured especially coming on the heals on signing his latest contract extension. If Derek Jeter was already a little upset over the way Brian Cashman handled the pre-season contract negotiation and writer Ian O'Connor's new book rehashing old dirt, he seemed down right terse when asked about his alleged hip situation. In response to questions, he snapped numerous times "it" was nothing. But the constant talk of his demise and his supposed faltering in the twilight of his career, are no doubt being thrown on his plate as more items he's having to contend with. And there's a slight change in his demeanor accompanying this slow transformation towards inevitably becoming a retired player from being the star player from just a few years ago.
Yea..., so how do ya like me now!? One game does not a turn-around make, but that's a hell of a statement Jeter made this afternoon. After getting pulled for a supposed tweaked hip and sitting out the following game against his will, Derek Jeter used the friendly hot-air elevation effect of middle- Texas to quiet some critics, if only for a game.
Derek Jeter is batting over .300 over his last 11 games. Today against the Texas Rangers, The Captain hit 2 home runs as part of a 4 for 6 day; with 3 RBI; two runs scored; and a stolen base. He was 1 for 2 with runners in scoring position and grounded into no double plays. That all came while batting from the lead-off position against the defending American League Champions.
Is it pure coincidence Jeter should have such a breakout game against the Yankees' ouster from last year's playoffs? Maybe; maybe not. But I hardly think he'll be going out with a mere whimper like some have suggested after watching the first three weeks of the season. But like I said, he's batting over .300 over the last 11 games he's played. I'm not sure how he'll go out. But I'm sure he'll bow out more gracefully than the fans, Media, and critics have foreseen.
You have to be close to, if not in your forties to understand the natural deterioration of a player's skills and how careers rightfully should end. I place the line of demarcation of the steroids era in the late 1980's. If you were born after 1988 or so, you have lived your entire life withing the enhancement era of Baseball. The marked improvement in what should be the ending of careers has become a reality for the younger to twenty-somes of this more modern generation.
Ken Griffey Jr. is an example of a more realistic deterioration. Closer to home, so was Bernie Williams' and Mike Piazza's careers. And now, so is Derek Jeter's.
But I'm sure Derek Jeter will play representative Baseball for himself the deeper into May we get. But my question is for how long? Because I honestly couldn't tell you whether he has four weeks or all four years left in him.
To repeat my over-all concern for Derek Jeter; - It is my sincere hope that once he achieves his 3,000th hit of his great career, that he do everything responsible to ensure his lifetime .300 batting average stay in tact. Mickey Mantle stayed around way too long and allowed his lifetime .300 batting average to dip below that status level, while also losing the prestigious claim of being a 30% hitter. Derek Jeter is well aware of his place in Yankee History, and is well aware Mickey Mantle was well spoken about his regret for allowing that to happen.
Derek Jeter is already a Hall of Famer without the 3,000 hits. But when he is all said and done with this game, and when it comes to contemplating his number of games played; runs scored; hits; doubles; AND lifetime batting average, the final word about Derek Jeter be nothing short of greatness.
We've learned in life how exploits and heroics have always grown more grand as years go by and then into Legends, and Myths; reaching Epic proportion. Imagine pondering Jeter with his 3,000 hits and a .300 average to validate it?
How great he can become as a future Old-Timer sporting such a dual achievement came place him in the TOP FOUR discussion of Yankee greats. But that's all if he recognizes when to retire.