Monday, August 17, 2009

The Jeter Countdowns Begin

As I write this, the Yankees have just begun a 3-game series at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum -- apparently, the naming rights have run out and the "Mausoleum" has reverted to its original name -- against the Athletics.

It's not clear how much longer the A's will stay there. Plans for new ballparks have failed, both adjacent to the Coliseum site and in neighboring Fremont. With the Giants having a splendid new ballpark across the Bay, the A's need to get out of what is essentially a 43-year-old football stadium and get into a place suitable for baseball, or baseball will not be long for the East Bay.

The Yankees took the 1st 3 in Seattle before losing the 4th yesterday. Derek Jeter collected his 2,688th career hit. He now needs 34 hits to surpass Lou Gehrig, who had 2,721, as the Yankees' all-time leader, and at the rate he's going, he'll get there on September 13, a Sunday, at home against the Baltimore Orioles. That's 27 days away.

It was his 2,674th hit as a shortstop (the rest coming as a designated hitter), breaking the record of Luis Aparicio, the speedy, slick-fielding Venezuelan of the 1950s and '60s Chicago White Sox and (for the moment) the only South American in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Robin Yount, Cal Ripken and Honus Wagner all collected over 3,000 hits, but all played quite a few games at other positions, and thus trail Jeter and Aparicio on the list of hits by a shortstop. (In fact, along with Hank Greenberg, Yount is 1 of 2 players to win MVP awards as both an infielder and an outfielder.)

At this rate, Derek will join the 3,000 Hit Club on May 15, 2011. That's 637 days.

The Yankees are now 7 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox, their Magic Number to clinch the American League Eastern Division Championship is 38, and at this rate they will clinch on September 27 -- the next-to-last Sunday of the season, and at home against the Red Sox. Wouldn't that be sweet. Anyway, that's 41 days.

The Mets are 12 games out of first in the National League East, and 9 games out of the Wild Card. The "tragic number" to eliminate them from Playoff competition is 36.

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