Monday, September 8, 2014

Yankees Embarrass Themselves On Derek Jeter Day

On Saturday, the Yankees bounced back, getting some runs against the Kansas City Royals. Martin Prado went 3-for-4, including 2 doubles. Ichiro Suzuki had 2 hits. So did John Ryan Murphy, returning to the team as a September callup. Five different Yankees had RBIs: Ichiro, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Derek Jeter.

Brandon McCarthy took the hint, and pitched well into the 7th inning. He's now 6-4 as a Yankee. The bullpen of Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson pitched 2 2/3 perfect innings (no save).

Danny Duffy started for the Royals, but had to leave the game after throwing only 1 pitch, due to pain in his shoulder. Last year, he had surgery on his throwing elbow, so the Royals have reason to be concerned for his future as a pitcher. He was relieved by Liam Hendriks, and he only went 4 innings on virtually no notice (1-1).

Yankees 6, Royals 2.


Yesterday was Derek Jeter Day. On hand were his parents, his grandmother, his sister, his nephew, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Joe Torre, best friend Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, David Cone, Tino Martinez, Tim Raines, Hideki Matsui, Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred (I guess Bud Selig had to attend a luncheon in Cleveland, a la Bowie Kuhn blowing off Hank Aaron for his 715th home run), former trainer Gene Monahan, Gerald Williams and Harold Reynolds (the last 2 as friends of Derek's, since Gerald didn't win anything as a Yankee and Reynolds never played for us) -- but, strangely, not Andy Pettitte. Only 3 of the Core Four were there.

Also on hand was Cal Ripken, the only man besides Jeter who could, legitimately, be called the greatest shortstop in American League history. And Michael Jordan was a guest. Presumably, he wanted to remind Jeter that, even if he's no longer working for the Yankees come November 1 -- or, more likely, come September 29 -- he still works for Nike and Gatorade.

Let the record show that the NBA made things easier for Jordan, and he won 6 titles; MLB made things harder for Jeter's team (by enabling their opponents to headhunt and use steroids, but not letting the Yankees do the same thing), and he still won 5 titles.

Obviously, since Derek's career statistics are not yet finalized, they couldn't give him his Monument Park Plaque. But neither did they officially retire his Number 2. Just as they didn't retire O'Neill's 21, even though no one (with a very brief, dubious exception) has worn it since he retired. They did retire Mariano's 42 while he was still active (albeit for 1 more week). It's clear that no future Yankee will ever have the guts to ask for Number 2; if any does, he might get released on the spot. So why not retire it now?

Derek's speech was short. He thanked his family, and his teammates collectively, mentioning only Torre and the Steinbrenner family by name. He added:

Lastly and most importantly, I want to thank you, the fans. Anyone who is here today, anyone who is at home watching, anyone who has ever been over the course, over the last 20 seasons, thank you very much. You guys have watched me grow up over the last 20 years. I've watched you, too. Some of you guys are getting older, too. I want to thank you for helping me feel like a kid the last 20 years.

In my opinion, I’ve had the greatest job in the world: I’ve had the chance to be the shortstop for the New York Yankees, and there’s only one of those.

I always felt as though my job was to try to provide joy and entertainment for you guys. But it can’t compare to what you’ve brought me, so for that, thank you very much.

He began to walk off, and hand off the microphone, then stepped back, and said, "And, hey, we've got a game to play!"

Always focused on the task at hand. That is Derek Jeter.

Unfortunately, his teammates didn't seem to get the message. As they so often do on celebration days, such as Old-Timers' Day and Monument Park dedications, they embarrassed their assembled greats.

Jeter got a hit -- Number 3,450 -- and so did Ellsbury, Beltran and Teixeira. But that was it. Yankee starter Shane Greene made a throwing error to allow a run in the 2nd, and he allowed another run on a single in the 3rd. The Yankees should have been able to overcome that, but they didn't. As on Friday night, they went out meekly.

Royals 2, Yankees 0.  WP: Yordano Ventura (12-9). SV: Wade Davis (2 -- both in this series). LP: Greene (4-3).


So, with 3 weeks left, just 21 games, the Yankees are 9 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Eastern Division, 9 in the loss column. Forget it: The O's have it wrapped up.

The Yankees are 4 1/2 games, 4 in the loss column, behind the Seattle Mariners for the 2nd AL Wild Card berth.

It looks bad. How bad? ESPN says that the Yankees currently have a 1.7 percent chance of making the Playoffs.

Missing the Playoffs in his last 2 seasons is bad by Derek Jeter's standards, but at least he's not as far out of it as Mickey Mantle was in his last 4.

If the current standings turn out to be the final ones, here's the Playoff picture:

AL: Seattle at Oakland, winner to face Anaheim; Kansas City vs. Baltimore.

NL: Pittsburgh at San Francisco, winner to face Washington; Los Angeles vs. St. Louis.

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