With Derek Jeter Down Again, The New York Yankees’ Season Is Over
Derek Jeter landed on the disabled list for the third time this season. They say that the third time is the charm, but this is baseball. You get three strikes. You get three outs. You get the idea.
Since going down with a cringe-inducing ankle break in the 2012 American League Championship Series versus the Detroit Tigers, the Captain has been on a mission to rejoin the New York Yankees and right the listing ship. He made it back on July 11 to single on the first pitch he saw this season – scoring a run and knocking in another as the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals – before hitting the DL a second time with a quad injury.
Upon his return July 28, he again hit the first pitch he saw, inside-outing a Matt Moore fastball into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium, as a cheering crowd stopped the game until he waved to them from the dugout steps. That day, it was 2003 again, with Jeter and Alfonso Soriano combining to score four runs and drive in four, as the Yankees downed the Tampa Bay Rays in ten innings.
With Jeter in the lineup this season, the Yankees are a .600 team. Okay, he’s only played five games, returning to the 15-day DL on August 5 so it’s a tiny sample. But he is a man who remembers how to win, how to dominate the American League Eastern Division.
As it stands, however, the Yankees’ .518 winning percentage puts them 9.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and 4.0 games behind the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers for the second wild card spot. They are nowhere near out of it yet, but they need to climb over the Baltimore Orioles and the Rays to get to Boston.
Although the arrival of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez through the revolving DL door might give the Bombers an offensive boost, the distraction of A-Rod’s Biogenesis drama makes the Captain’s focus and leadership more important to the team than at any time this season. But with no forecast yet for him to come back, there’s no guarantee that Jeter’s return will be in time to help.
The 39-year old shortstop has an $8 million player option for 2014 which he will almost certainly exercise, if only because he cannot let his storied career end this way. Jeter and baseball deserve that farewell tour. The way the Yankees’ season has been going, that, more than the playoffs, will be something to look forward to.