I have seen many remarkable moments in Derek Jeter's remarkable career. From his 1996 "Rookie of the Year" season to his 2012 season, when, at the age of 38, he led the major leagues with 212 hits, before opening the postseason with a fractured ankle.
But as that great baseball philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said: It ain't over till it's over. And this season is still most definitely not over, though, mathematically speaking, the New York Yankees have been eliminated from contention in the postseason.
But Derek Jeter and the Yanks still have one more weekend of regular season baseball left to play, the last weekend, to be played on another stage, in another storied field: Fenway Park. I'd call it "enemy territory"---except in this season, Derek Jeter has had no enemies. Everywhere he has gone, on this farewell retirement tour, his opponents have shown him the "RE2PECT" he has earned over a two-decade career of consistently extraordinary achievement. Every opposing team, in every ballpark in which he has appeared across this country, has honored him, and given generously to his Turn 2 Foundation.
So last night, several weeks after the Stadium celebrated an almost funereal Derek Jeter Day (September 7, 2014), Yankee fans knew this would be their last opportunity to see this future Hall of Famer play in his home pinstriped uniform on his home field.
There isn't a Jeter fan I know that didn't want this man to leave this grandest of sports stages without the kind of "last hurrah" that each of us has come to expect. Jeter provides us with a legacy that transcends self; for all his self-achievement, it has always been about The Team, in his view; he has marked his career with an obsessive concern for winning, and it is only with an integrated team, one with professionalism and passion, one that embraces a stoic celebration of tradition, history, and pride---and a youthful exuberance.
Last night, partly through Jeter's efforts, the Yankees entered the top of the ninth inning, leading the 2014 ALDS victors, the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2. But reliever, David Robertson, pitched up a few home runs, and by the time Jeter came up in the bottom of the inning, the Orioles had tied the score, 5-5. With two men on, the Voice of God, the late Bob Sheppard announced Number 2, Derek Jeter, for the last time at Yankee Stadium; and it was a youthful Jeter who seemed to approach the batter's box on this field of dreams. He lined a first pitch to right field, demonstrating the inside-out style that has come to be called "Jeterian", and drove in the winning run, unleashing an explosive ovation from the soldout stadium crowd as if the Yanks had just clinched the World Series. He even got a Gatorade Baptism for this walk-off single, usually reserved for the walk-off HR.
Jeter would later crouch down by his shortstop position, kneeling as if in prayer, and later announced that he had just completed his last game as shortstop for the New York Yankees, opting for the Designated Hitter role at this weekend's Fenway Fest.
By Sunday night, I should be all cried out.