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For all the naysayers out there, Derek Jeter still’s got an edge. He’s soooo got an edge. On Saturday (July 9th), Jeter became the first Yankee ever to reach one of baseball’s most extraordinary milestones, surpassing 3,000 hits for his career. With his 3,003 hits, Jeter joins a remarkably small list of players to accomplish the feat of recording 3,000 hits or more. Only 27 players in baseball’s over one hundred-year existence have ever reached this plateau.
The milestone ranks as Jeter’s greatest personal accomplishment throughout his 15 year playing career. More importantly, Jeter accomplished the milestone in spectacular fashion as he always does in big moments. Jeter hit a home run for his 3,000th hit that sent Yankees stadium into pandemonium. This day will surely be remembered as one of the most magnificent days in the allure of Yankees history.
Recently, Jeter has undeservingly been a punching bag for criticism by many people in the media. There is no doubt that Jeter is getting older. However, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the captain will continue producing in big situations like he has been known to due time and time again.
Following his historic performance in which he got 3,000 hits and went a perfect 5-for-5, Jeter said at a press conference, “You’re gonna have good years, you’re gonna have bad years. You’re gonna have good weeks, good games, good months. You’re gonna have bad weeks, bad games, and bad months, but, the approach never changes.” These words by Jeter are an accurate reflection on game of baseball and should be a telling reason why Jeter might not be as washed up as people seem to believe.
The game of baseball is such a long season. Jeter’s words emphasize the fact that as player you’re going to struggle at times. Jeter’s words also emphasize that these struggles might come in prolonged droughts but it is always possible to bounce back. Jeter’s approach certainly will not falter or change drastically, even when he is criticized for not always performing at a high level.
Jeter’s aura has always been built on his ability to make big play in the most critical and direst situations. Plays that standout include, the flip (versus the Oakland Athletics during 2001 ALDS), the dive (versus the Red Sox, on July 1, 2004), and a home run off Byung-Hyun Kim (of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2001 World Series). The home run off Hyun Kim was a 10th inning walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Critics have said that Jeter is not worth the contract he signed this past off-season. They have also said that Jeter’s skills are pointedly diminishing because of his age, but, if there is any sign that he is still capable of playing at a high level, especially in important situations, Saturday was that sign.
Not only did Jeter record his 3,000th hit, but he also finished the day at a perfect 5-for-5 mark at the plate. Jeter’s fifth and final hit, which came in the eighth inning, would be the decisive winning hit for a Yankees team that was reeling coming off of four losses in their five previous games.
Jeter admitted after the game, that his first two at bats (in which he reached the 3,000 hit mark) were more stressful than the situation in the eighth inning, when he drove in the winning run. Jeter said that the eighth inning hit was less stressful because he had been in similar situations before. For someone who prides himself on winning, it is consoling to here that Jeter was cool as a cucumber in the eighth inning, when the game mattered the most.
This was Jeter’s day. The Yankees rode Jeter’s back on a day when many other players were not producing. Jeter stepped up to the plate and delivered a Jeter-esque performance, as he usually does in big moments on the Broadway stage that is New York. He reached the milestone, kept his cool, and produced when it mattered most, during the eighth inning. If there is anyone I want up at the plate in an important situation, its not the Barry Bonds and A-Rods of world, its Derek Jeter.