THE BRONX, NY —
I’ve never been a camera guy. I feel that a lot of people miss big moments (sports plays, kids milestones, etc) because they’re too busy taking pictures or video taping. I had decided last night was going to be different for me, I was going to make sure to get some good shots of the Captain as he’s walking off the field for the last time. Most likely from shortstop with 2 outs in the top of the 9th as he jogs off with his cap in the air. Or even better, a double in the bottom of the 7th & they take him out for a pinch runner with the long walk across the infield.
Then, Jeter happened. The only memorable picture I got was in the 3rd inning of a George Steinbrenner doppelganger that was sitting in the row in front of us (if you took the under on Costanza calzone jokes, you lost).
Last night was the perfect example of why I’m not a camera guy. Watching how that all went down from the 8th inning on was unbelievable. YES Network will replay that game 365 times over the next year. There were dozens of photographers on the field that could get a better picture then I could from my scratched up iPhone. I just stood there, as I have countless times over Jeter’s career, and watched him come through yet again.
When Jeter reached on an error in the bottom of the 7th, we figured we just saw his final RBI. With a 3 run lead, Kuroda would get through the 8th inning & hand the ball to Robertson, who would close out the 9th as he’s done all season. Instead, a two run dinger & solo shot off Robertson in the 9th and we have a tie game.
My eyes drifted to center field scoreboard and the lineup: Pirela, Gardner….Jeter. I felt like an idiot for not realizing it was going to end this way. In the top of the first when the Bleacher Creatures were doing their role call and it came to Jeter’s turn for the chant to be aimed at him, Kuroda served up a long homer to right and kind of ruined the moment. It just felt like it wasn’t going to be that special of a night.
Again, I’m an idiot for not remembering how things happen for the guy. It was just all part of the overall plan, leading to a tie game in the bottom of the 9th on a chilly fall night with a man on second. As Jeter’s ball went through the infield into right the place went crazy (old Yankee Stadium crazy). As Antoan Richardson (pinch runner for Pirela) rounded third it looked like the ball was going to beat him to the plate. Have I mentioned that I’m an idiot yet? Of course he’s going to be safe at the plate. As the ump made the safe sign the place went off the charts. It was the first time that the new stadium felt like the old place. It brought back memories of the dozens of times I walked down the concrete walkway at the old Yankee Stadium drunkenly singing along to Sinatra’s “New York, New York” after Jeter came through, as he always has over the past 20 years.
I cannot say for sure that baseball will never have someone like him again. The game is littered with young talent. What I do know is I will never have someone like him again. Even if Derek Jeter 2.0 came into the league tomorrow and played for the Yankees, I wouldn’t have that connection. I was 12 years old when Jeter came into the league and as long as he was still playing I had that connection back to that place in time. Hopefully my nieces, nephews & future kids will have someone like him in sports when they’re growing up.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a lot of big games over the years. This feeling was different. I’m usually going nuts because the Yankees pulled a win out of nowhere and MY team won. Or the Giants pulling a Superbowl out of their ass and MY team won. Last night was nothing about me. I genuinely felt happy for HIM.
Sonny said in A Bronx Tale “Mickey Mantle makes one hundred thousand dollars a year. How much does your father make? See if your father can’t pay the rent, go ask Mickey Mantle and see what he tells you. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you, so why should you care about him. Nobody cares”.
I’m not in a spot to argue with a fictional mobster, but I cared about what happened last night. Maybe I’m an idiot…