Mariano

I woke up on Wednesday morning to my home phone ringing. I would later find out I had 8 missed calls on my cell phone, which had been vibrating in my drawer. My brother’s fiancee was calling. My dad was in the hospital – he had a stroke that morning. By 9:15 I was in Forest Hill Hospital, holding my dad’s trademark Stetson hat as the nurse gave him an injection of some blood thinner.

My dad is okay. It was a small stroke, literally the least serious stroke you could have and still have a technical stroke. He should be going home tomorrow, slightly more than 48 hours after he was admitted. With some slight life style changes, he should be healthy for many more years.

This comes after a year of frustration after my graduation, in which my attempts to start a job, a career, and a life have been continually rebuffed and ignored. Love life has been remarkably stagnant. And various family drama has brought stress and emotional duress.

As anyone who knows me knows, in times of difficulty, I turn to sports. And most of the time, I get let down. The Jets always manage to disappoint in the most spectacular way, the Nets wish they had expectations to disappoint, and Syracuse sports vacillated from the former (SU basketball) to the latter (SU football).

But I always had the Yankees. And since I’m right between 22 and 23 years old, I’ve always had Mariano Rivera. Jogging in calmly, glove in one hand, head down, Mo would take the mound as Enter Sandman blared over the loudspeakers. And with a few cutters, a broken bat or two, and on his worst nights, a bloop single, Mariano would close the game out. There would be no histrionics, no dancing – he would nod, shake his catcher’s hand and congratulate his teammates. Later on, in interviews, he would always pass praise on to those teammates, or his coaches, or the fans, or God.

(A sidenote: I hate when athletes rave about God or Jesus. But when Mo did it, it never bothered me. Maybe its because I’m pretty sure I’ve always thought he was a deity, so it was just a 2nd-degree form of confidence.)

Today, in a ballpark in Kansas City, Mariano Rivera collapsed while shagging fly balls near the outfield wall. A forgettable game later, news broke that he has torn his ACL, a ligament in his right knee. He is out for the rest of the season, and since he’s 42, his career is in doubt.

Despite a year full of disappointment and bitterness, and a week of hospital beds and the words “clot,” “numbness,” and “stroke,” I hadn’t cried. But I did tonight, when Mariano stood at his locker, and said that, rather than go to NYC and get final confirmation on the injury and relax at home, he would stay with the team. In his words “To make sure the guys are okay.” During a night when his body failed him for the first time in two decades, when he is questioning his own athletic mortality, he is putting his teammates before himself.

Mariano was always the best. He was leagues ahead of regular pitchers, and always had numbers amongst the best closers. Except he did it for almost twenty years in a row when most flamed out after three. And he always raised his game when it mattered. When he entered the game, Yankees fans breathed a sigh of relief, and even played the Mo Game. Guess how many pitches it will take Mariano to close this one out. Sports fans, a notoriously superstitious lot, took his success for granted.

Even more, Mariano is the epitome of class and grace. A leader amongst the clubhouse, especially amongst the Latino and especially the Panamanian kids, Mariano had no hesitation teaching anyone who asked how to throw his cutter. He even tried to teach it to pitchers from rival teams! He tried to give the secret of his success away.

For me personally, I grew up on the Yankees teams of the late 90s and 2000s. We had four public faces. Derek Jeter was the star, Andy Pettitte was the drawling southern steadying force, while Jorge Posada was the emotion and heart and passion. Mariano was something else. He was a level above. We idolized Derek, we admired Pettitte and we roared for Jorge, but we worshiped Mariano.

We hear people talk wistfully of watching Ali fight. Of watching Bird pass. Of watching Jim Brown run. Of watching Orr skate. I’m gonna talk wistfully of watching Mariano pitch.

In a year of disappointment and a week of heartache and fear, the dam broke when a 42 year old relief pitcher from a tiny village in Panama, whom I had never met, snapped an ACL in his leg. I cried. For the first time since 2001, I cried because of sports.

But it wasn’t really because of sports. It was everything. When my life was too difficult, I turned to the Yankees. And when the games were too difficult, the Yankees turned to Mo. And he always got the save.

I could use a save right now.

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MLB Playoffs Keys, Narratives and Consequences

There are eight teams left in contention for the World Series in 2011. Here are the keys to each team winning the championship, and the fallout from each victory.

Yankees: Ugh, The Evil Empire wins again! Sportswriters furiously announce that this is just another sign baseball is going in the toilet, even though the final day of the season was the most exciting day in sports in like 30 years. One more final ring for Derek, Jorge and Mo, before Jorge (hopefully) retires. He immediately becomes the New York Mets 3rd base coach, and baserunning instructor. 2012 Mets are first team with negative SB percentage in a season. CC Sabathia regains spot as most feared big game pitcher in baseball, mostly because he ate Tim Lincecum after game 2 of the World Series. Mariano Rivera is anointed the Next Mariano Rivera.

Phillies: The city of Philadelphia falls silent as they try to digest winning two titles in four years. Unable to deal with the success, most fans move to Cleveland. Major League Baseball votes to rename the National League the ‘Roy Halladay League’ after he throws 4 perfect games in a row on his way to World Series MVP, NL Cy Young and 2012 GOP candidate for president. Ryan Howard’s contract is extended even further, and he will stay in Philadelphia until ‘Cthulhu takes his dominion over our universe.’

Rangers: A first world series for the Rangers, Nolan Ryan is vindicated for his belief that a pitcher with less than 120 pitches in a start is a sissyboy and a loser. CJ Wilson’s arm falls off after throwing 160 pitches on 3 days rest to clinch the AL Pennant. Manages to beat Yankees in ALCS, mainly because Hank Steinbrenner informed team pregame that Wilson had already signed a 6 year, 190 million dollar deal with the Pinstripes. Randy Levine insists deal still stands, even though CJ Wilson has no left arm anymore. Michael Young hits .130 with a .243 OBP, but after winning game 1 of the World Series with a bloop, broken bat single, Tim McCarver talks so long about how great of a hitter Young is, the World Series experiences it’s first ever Announcer-Delay. Neftali Feliz is Next Mariano Rivera.

Brewers: An underrated baseball town (or at least thats what ESPN tells me – no one from Wisconsin cares about anything but Packers football, beer and cheese-shaped headpieces) finally gets a title. Ryan Braun dances the Hora in Milwaukee as confused Milwaukee-ians drink beer and wonder why he’s wearing a tiny baseball hat with no brim. Prince Fielder celebrates by eating what he thought was lunch, but was actually Nyjer Morgan. He signs a 12 year contract with the Mets, and contributes to that negative SB percentage. MLB locks out the players, refusing to allow a league in which a team with Yuniesky Betancourt won the World Series. No one protests.

Tigers: Justin Verlander throws 103 MPH on his final pitch to strike out Justin Upton and win the World Series. His 201st pitch of the game, and 615th of the series across three starts, Verlander immediately retires to join the Rangers as pitching coach, where he believes Ryan’s pitch count limits are too low. Miguel Cabrera does not drive drunk in celebration, however he commits a serious faux pas when he spikes the World Series Trophy. Gerald Laird and Brandon Inge burst in to the clubhouse and furiously hump the fallen trophy. Jim Leyland retires to become the new mascot for Camel cigarettes.

Diamondbacks: Arizona’s deal with the devil holds strong – they win the World Series in every year that ends with 1, are absolutely awful every year that ends with 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9. Ian Kennedy manages a complete game winner in Game One of the World Series despite not throwing a pitch above 71 MPH. Tim Wakefield watches, jealous of his velocity. Justin Upton wins the title on a walkoff home run in Game 6, that bounces off his brother’s head in centerfield and over the fence. Upton parents announces BJ was adopted, renege on the agreement and yell ‘NO BACKSIES.’

Rays: The most incredible comeback in baseball history, the Rays sweep the Rangers, Yankees and Phillies to win their first title. A tell-all book from Joe Maddon 10 years later reveals that Jonah Keri’s ‘Extra 2%’ was actually massive amounts of steroids. Joe West stirs the pot when he ejects the singer of the National Anthem for holding the final note too long. Evan Longoria wins World Series MVP, and officially becomes the most famous E. Longoria in history. During a game in which Rays fans chant BJ to honor ALCS MVP BJ Upton, 12 years old all over the world giggle under their hands. To avoid any more trouble, Upton changes his name to BTJ, which stands for Better Than Justin.

Cardinals: The Greatest Fans In the Game™ erupt with joy as the World Series returns to St. Louis. Albert Pujols hits .415 across the playoffs, with an OPS of 1.100. Also, he grabbed momentum in the NLCS after pulled off a mask to reveal he was actually a cyborg sent from the future to win this World Series, hereby preventing two joyous Yankees fans from copulating, which would have led to the birth of John Connor. The Phillies stunningly forfeit the NLDS during game three, because the game slowed to a crawl after Tony LaRussa made 13 pitching changes before the 3rd inning ended. Colby Rasmus cries himself to sleep in snowy Toronto.

BONUS: Red Sox: Just as CJ Wilson is preparing to start the playoffs, a gang of sportswriters and ESPN anchors, led by Peter Gammons and Eric Ortiz, announce that due to extenuating circumstances, the Boston Red Sox have been awarded the 2011 World Series Championship. In their reasoning, they state that how could so perfect, so awesome, so divine of a team be expected to compete with mere mortals? MLB agrees, in exchange for Boston agreeing to never mention the words ‘2004’ or ‘bloody sock’ again, with the corollary that Curt Schilling should have his mouth sewn shut. No one disagrees.

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The Post Everyone Is Writing

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade,

and he carries the reminders, of every glove that laid him down,

and cut him, till he cried out in his anger and his shame

“I am leaving, I am leaving,” but the fighter still remains.

The Boxer, by Paul Simon

On September 11th, 2001, I was in 7th grade and goofing around in Mrs. Rannestadt’s earth science class when the guidance counselor, Mr. Grassel, came in. He let us know that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. In my stupid, 7th grade sense of humor, I chuckled at the thought of a plane sticking out of a building.

Next period was humanities with Mr. Carlisle. We were sitting with our desks in a giant circle, when my brother’s face appeared in the door’s window. My brother was in 12th grade and I went out to see him. He told me it was a terrorist attack, and the buildings had collapsed. I relayed that to my classmates sitting around me.

We all went home during lunchtime. My dad picked up me and my brother and brought us to my mom’s home. My other brother was already there; his high school was a block away and he managed to get home by himself. It was maybe 12 o’clock. From that time until I went to sleep, I watched Nickelodeon. Spongebob Squarepants, Rugrats, the works.

Outside of maybe a few infomercial channels, every other channel was playing the news. Even the sports channels (ESPN, ESPN2, MSG) were streaming other news’ channels. Just over and over, the planes hitting the buildings, the flames erupting out the side, and the collapse. It was just too much. I was 11 years old. I couldn’t watch the tape over and over.

So on a day where our entire nation and perhaps world changed in an instant, my strongest memory is sitting in my room, watching Spongebob and Patrick.

On every 9/11 since, there has been some sort of quiet memorial. News shows would make mention of it, maybe interview someone about it. Privately, I would try to make some memorial of it, especially in my four years at Syracuse. I was surrounded by people from all over the country who didn’t know what my city was like before the attacks and after.

I like to watch a clip of the Daily Show, from the first episode after the attacks. Jon Stewart delivered a powerful, heart-wrenching monologue, where you could see how raw his emotion was, and that he really was a New Yorker born and bred. On the next Saturday Night Live, Paul Simon performed one of the best live shows I have ever seen, singing a quiet, solemn version of The Boxer, including a poignant moment where he got choked up during the final verse. As the song was played, the camera panned across a group of firefighters, EMTs, and policeman fronted by then-Mayor Guiliani. All of them stood at attention, looking at the camera with stoic expressions.

New York City is the greatest city in the world. On 9/11/01 we were irrevocably changed. People who would do us harm announced their intentions in a deliberate and evil strike on the greatest symbol of our strength and power. But we recovered and ten years later, we’re just as strong and powerful and united.

Though we carry the reminders of every glove that laid us down and cut us, we cried out in our anger and our shame. But we still remain.

Jon Stewart monologue

Paul Simon, Saturday Night Live

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Have You Found Jesus (Montero) In Your Life?

Finally.

Catching/DHing/Home run mashing super-prospect Jesus Montero will join the team today and likely make his official major league debut within the next few days. We’ve been hearing about this guy for three or four years and now the offensive expectations are high. I expected everyone to be just about as giddy as I am.

Imagine my surprise when trusted Twitterer @firstheart42 disagrees. She wrote an excellent piece on why her enjoyment of this has suffered due to fans and a lot of their stupid reactions. You can read it here.

Hannah (Firstheart42’s actual name) is one of the most level-headed Yankee fans out there. Never gets too high, never gets too low, unless she sees David Robertson, then all bets are off. Many times she has talked me down off a ledge when I was angry at some dumb reactionary things I had seen on Twitter about the Yankees and their players.

I want to say this to Yankee fans: whatever Montero does over the next month (and possibly more) has absolutely, positively no effect on long-term projections, barring some crazy injury (Mo forbid). He could bat .050 with 75% K rate and it doesn’t matter. It would suck because any Yankee player going through that would suck. He could bat .450 with .900 SLG and 10 HRs and it wouldn’t matter. It would kick ass because any Yankee crushing the ball like that would kick ass.

Hannah is right – whatever Montero does over his month-plus cameo with the Yankees will inspire some idiocy. If he does well, there will be some idiots crowing that he should’ve come up earlier, and some idiots somehow trying to ‘lay claim’ to his success because they touted him in a blog post in 2001 when he was 11. If he struggles at first, there will be idiots saying he’s a bust and we should’ve traded him for Hiroki Kuroda when we had the chance, and some idiots will say that he should’ve stayed down in AAA and Cashman has destroyed his potential.

The idiots are wrong. Ignore them. I am greatly excited to see Montero because I have heard such awesome things yet, because I don’t go to/watch minor league games, I have yet to see him swing a bat live. If he does not meet expectations, that will be sad but I will be just as excited next April to see him starting at DH or catcher.

Montero was born on November 28th, 1989. That is 17 days after me. He is 21 years old, competing against the highest level of talent in the world, whilst I am unemployed and my days consist of job applications, playing Madden and watching sports. Jesus will see pitches over the next month he has never seen before. I’m 21 and the thought of getting in to the batter’s box at Fenway, against Papelbon as the winning run with the tying run on 2nd and two outs, and I would probably wet my pants out of fear. And disgust, because Papelbon is one ugly dude.

Montero was ahead of his age group in AAA. That is even more true in the big leagues. I urge all Yankee fans to follow Hannah’s general example in fandom: don’t get too high, don’t get too low in your reaction to Montero. If he hits a homerun his first game, I will probably stand up in my living room, do the macarena before some serious Fist Pumps (copyright Francisco Cervelli 2011). It’s okay to be excited or disappointed, just think before you say anything rash and remember he’s 21.

Enjoy seeing one of the best hitting prospects in years and the hopeful cornerstone of our franchise make his debut. Chances are, in 20 years, you’ll be telling your kids about the debut of Jesus Montero.

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The Question of Bandwagoning

The sports story over the past week has the success, and yet ultimate ‘failure’ of the United States Women’s National Team reaching the Women’s World Cup finals. After two thrilling victories against Brazil and France, the team was minutes away from the championship in both normal and extra time before Japan tied it up, and the ladies of America lost in penalty kicks (Brutal to watch.)

Upon returning home, the leaders of the team (goalkeeper Hope Solo, striker Abby Wambach, captain and centre back Christie Rampone and midfielder Megan Rapinoe) have led the team on a whirlwind tour of media in the past two days (Sportscenter, First Take, Sportsnation, Good Morning America, Today Show, Rachel Maddow and the Daily Show). Obviously, this is the most publicity the team has gotten since 1999 when the women won the Cup on penalty kicks. The team’s Twitter accounts have gained thousands of followers; hell, Abby Wambach’s head and *Megan Rapinoe’s hair have their own Twitter accounts.

*There is nothing you, the reader, could ever do that is as awesome Megan Rapinoe’s hair. Her hair, pinpoint long passes, and general badassery made her my favorite player on the team*

As people are apt to do, there has been some backlash against this sudden publicity. The hardcore fans of the team, who rooted for them during qualifiers, who follow women’s soccer in America, can get resentful of newer fans who don’t know as much. I’m sure more than one older fan has gotten irritated from someone saying ‘oh my god I am such a soccer fan! What is the offside rule mean…’

The word bandwagoning has been thrown around a lot in this case, and it’s only the latest case of that accusation. It happens whenever a team enters the spotlight – the most notable recent example was with the San Francisco Giants after their World Series win last year. All of a sudden you had fans of other teams, or non-baseball fans giggling over Tim Lincecum’s hair or Buster Posey’s baby face.

But what is wrong with bandwagon fans? More fans of your team are good right? Especially for a team like the USWNT, which desperately needs support in both a cultural and financial sense for their league. But there is still this backlash.

The problem of bandwagon fans isn’t necessarily joining a successful team; it is giving up on them after the success goes away. For the game of US women’s soccer to really profit from this World Cup run, fans needs to keep paying attention to the team. They need to buy some jerseys, attend some club games, buy hats for their kids, etc. However, that rarely happens. This fall, when the Giants in all likelihood either miss the playoffs or get knocked out early on (as they probably will: it’s so damn hard to repeat as championships), a vast amount of these bandwagon fans will stop paying attention. And that is what is frustrating about bandwagon fans – they don’t really root for the team. They just enjoy the success and social relevance of a successful sports team, and then they drop it when you actually have to care about the team through hard times.

I believe the backlash comes from the idea that, as sports fans, you are expected to be closely linked with your team. You have to experience the ups and downs equally. The Pittsburgh Pirates are finally in first place, and all the old Pirates fans who have suffered for the past 2 decades are finally being vindicated. When fans start following a team after they have success, something rings hollow. At the end of the day, it’s just too easy to be a sports fan of a team only when it is successful. There is a masochistic part of fandom where you have to suffer with your team.

I fully admit I did not pay attention to the US Women’s National Team before the World Cup. I got in to the team as knockout play began, and partially because a Twitter friend (@fuddlecuddle) is the most passionate and knowledgeable fan about the team. I will do my best to keep track of the players: watch their club teams play when I can, follow their training for the 2012 Olympics, etc. Hopefully other people will do the same – because these ladies deserve fans who will follow them through thick and thin.

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The Circle of Pinstripes

Twitter is a strange place. Tonight our very own Hiba (@GoGetMyCoffee) tweeted the following:

“If Derek Jeter & Minka Kelly have a baby… Will it be a Lion King moment, where         Baby Jeet will be lifted up & crowds at Yankee Stadium bow?”

And from there we erupted: we created Yankee representatives for every major Lion King character. Not all Yankees were used because there weren’t enough Lion King characters. So starting with Hiba’s beginning:

Mufasa and Sarabi are of course: Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly. The First Couple of Yankeedom. Simba is their as-of-yet-unborn child. Nala is uh… I don’t want to go there. Jorge Posada’s daughter?

Rafiki is the easiest: Mariano Rivera. Wise. Mysterious. Learned. He shall wipe pine tar across baby Jeter’s forehead before lifting him up for the crowds of cheering fans at Yankee Stadium. No one knows where Mariano/Rafiki really came from, and no one really knows his secrets.

Timon and Pumba: Nick Swisher and AJ Burnett. Swisher is easy. Fast-talking, jokester; the best interview on the team is a perfect fit for Timon. And Pumba just seems like a slow-talking southerner who enjoys pieing his teammates.

Zazu: Francisco Cervelli. Zazu is an annoying just necessary part of the Lion King kingdom. Cervelli is the same. Plus, can’t you see Cervelli dancing around the clubhouse singing “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…”

The hyenas: The opposition of the Yankees must of course be Red Sox. And what better threesome (eww bad mental image) of Red Sox to be jackass hyenas than pitchers Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey. Idiots.

Finally, Scar. We searched and searched for a Yankee who signed with the Red Sox. The most recent ones in memory were Alfredo Aceves and Ramiro Mendoza. Frankly, neither of them is evil enough, nor do we want to burden them with the curse of being Scar. We needed someone universally hated by Yankees’ fans. Carl Pavano was an early entrant, as the fans hated him. But he didn’t betray us, rather he just sucked and left. Then we tossed around Cliff Lee. After all, the Yankees fans hate him – he was a Yankee in all but uniform before he shockingly signed with the Phillies. But we decided we needed someone who betrayed the Yankees, specifically Jeter. Someone who we brought on to help but he failed us time and time again. Someone that was the anti-Jeter in every respect. The perfect answer was staring at us right in the mirror, a mirror which he kissed.

Wallace Matthews was right all along. Alex Rodriguez is Scar.

*Many thanks to everyone who helped out, including @richardiurilli, @lettyroxmysox, @carlosologist, @kit_722, @rebexarama, @anamariana42, and @bkabak.*

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Number 2 in the Program, Number 1 in our Hearts

After Derek Jeter got his 3000th (and 3001st, 3002nd and 3003rd) hits on Saturday afternoon, Kim Jones interviewed Alex Rodriguez. Jeter’s teammate, fellow future Hall of Famer and frequent object of comparison said “I can think of only one person who could have a day like that, Derek Jeter. Speechless.” When asked if this day made him think about his possible 3000th hit, Rodriguez, who has improved so much in the PR department, smiled and said “A day like this makes me think about how special Derek Jeter is.”

Derek Jeter is special. Not just special because he’s really good at baseball, because guys like Alex Rodriguez, and Albert Pujols, and Troy Tulowitzki are better than him right now. And not just special because he has 3000 hits, though it is such an exclusive club.

Derek Jeter is special because he is the only athlete left that retains some of the aura of the DiMaggios, of the Ruths, of the Aarons. In this day and age of sexting scandals, steroids abusers and press conference expletives, Derek Jeter has never lost his dignity and class from the moment he stepped on the baseball field in Tampa.

There will be a multitude of written works saying Jeter has class, and dignity, and presence, and all of them of true. He does. But it’s not just class, because other players like Tim Wakefield or Chipper Jones are as classy as they come.

The year leading up to Jeter’s 3000th hit has not been his best; in fact I would say it has been his worst year in professional baseball since he spent his first year crying on the phone every night, begging his parents to let him quit and come home. He has looked slow, sluggish, off-balance and the worst of accusations to throw at an athlete: old. The season was full of choppers towards shortstop, ground balls safely scooting by in to centerfield and weak infield singles. I know I, along with many other Yankees fans I talked to, just prayed his 3000th hit was a legitimate base hit that could be put on the highlight reels for eternity.

And was it ever. After a solid single through the hole between short and third in the first for number 2999, Jeter led off the third inning with a towering fly ball to left field. It cleared the first set of stands and landed in the first row of the bleachers. No question about legitimacy on this one. After the celebration, Jeter didn’t do much, just drill a double down the left field line (turning a single in to a double because he hustled out of the box, as usual), smoke a single to the right in the trademark Jeter fashion, and finally, in the 8th inning, after former Yankee Johnny Damon tied the game, Jeter put a bow on his day with a groundball single up the middle, past a drawn-in infield to score Eduardo Nunez, the young shortstop prospect so many were clamoring for during his recent struggles. After the conventional 1-2-3 9th inning by closer extraordinaire and possible deity Mariano Rivera, Jeter walked off the field to chants of his name, and with a brief point towards the suite where his father Dr. Charles Jeter and girlfriend (fiancée??) Minka Kelly were cheering, the Yankees captain disappeared down in to the clubhouse.

The game was a 3 ½ hour Jeter love-fest. The man could do no wrong. When he was thrown out stealing 2nd to end the 8th inning, even that felt okay – the Yankees had the lead and Jeter wanted the game to end. Once he hit the homerun, those of us on Twitter spent the game basking in Jeter’s awesomeness.

For that is what makes Jeter different than other superstars. He has kept that bond with his fans where they feel his successes and his failures. When he goes 0-5 with 3 double plays, those of us who grew up with Jeter feel each out. And on days like today, when Jeter shows that he still has it, we are euphoric. By the end of the game, which just felt fated, a Yankees Classic in the making, I had reached an almost religious state of ecstasy. And for an atheist, that’s saying something.

It is remarkable that Jeter has managed to hold on to this connection with his fans. Even players that stay relatively clean from scandal are seen as distant millionaires with none of the common problems of everyday folk. This is clearly seen in the current NFL lockout, where billionaire owners are seen to be fighting with millionaire players.

But I think Jeter has maintained our loyalty because he plays like we all think we would play. He treats the game with respect. He knows his history – he quoted Tony Gwynn’s comments that the last 10 hits to 3000 were the hardest. He knows the power and presence of the uniform he wears. More than any other player, he embodies the essence of the quote by Joe DiMaggio, who when asked why he hustles on every play said “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.” Jeter never wants to take a day off. He fights through every injury.

Paul Simon wrote the line ‘where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you,” in the song Mrs. Robinson. The song is about the end of an era, and DiMaggio’s status as the last hero in America. A player that seemed less a player and more a god.

In the modern day, where 140 characters can spark emotional Twitter confrontations with fans, people with journalism degrees psychoanalyze ballplayers and a single misspoken word can label a player lazy, cheater or convict, Derek Jeter is the modern-day DiMaggio. He never misspeaks. He never puts anything before the team.

28 hitters have 3000 hits. 2 of them have hit a homerun as their 3000th. But only Derek Jeter could have hit a HR for his 3000th, gone 5-5 on the day, knocked in the winning run and scored another. Just like Alex Rodriguez, we’re simply speechless.

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