Derek Jeter, who is the best shortstop in Yankees history, will have his #2 retired and get a plaque in Monument Park on May 14, which is Mother’s Day. He played his final game with the Yankees at the end of the 2014 season after a career that saw him go to the All-Star game 14 times.
Before their game against the Houston Astros, Mr. November will become the 22nd player in the illustrious history of the Yankees to have his number retired. He played a franchise record 20 seasons with the Yankees and they were all at a high level except his final farewell season.
The Yankees will now not have any single digit numbers left since Billy Martin (#1), Babe Ruth’s (#3), Lou Gehrig (#4), Joe DiMaggio (#5), Joe Torre (#6), Mickey Mantle (#7), Yogi Berra & Bill Dickey (#8) and Roger Maris (#9) all have their numbers retired. They are all in the Hall of Fame except Martin and Jeter will be too in the first year that he is eligible (2020).
Jeter finished his career with four Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year award in 19963,465 hits (6th all-time), 1,923 runs scored (11th all-time), 260 homers, 1,311 RBIs, 358 steals, a .310 average, 544 doubles and a .377 on-base percentage. He also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times. In only his third season away from the Yankees, he deserves to have a day at Yankee Stadium dedicated for him where his family and former teammates will be able to support him on the field and he he will be able to give a speech to address everyone at the stadium and watching on TV.
Captain Clutch retired in 2014 with a winning percentage in games that he played in of an excellent .593 and five World Series championships. He is known as a player who would do anything that it took to win on the defensive and offensive side. Jeter tops the Yankees all-time list in hits, games played (2,747), doubles, stolen bases, at-bats (11,195), singles (2,595) and hit-by-pitches (170). While Jeter was playing during his 20-year career, he was always the most popular Yankee and his jersey or shirt would be worn by fans more than any other player’s.
He will be the last member of the Core Four to have their number retired. Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte had their numbers retired in 2015 and Mariano Rivera, who has the most saves in MLB history, had his number retired in 2013 while he was still playing and was given a plaque in Monument Park in August of last season.
Bernie Williams, Jeter’s longtime teammate for 11 seasons, also had his number retired during the 2005 season. He is one of the great Yankee outfielders and helped the team win four World Series titles but the reason he isn’t included in the Core Four is because he wasn’t still on the team when they won the World Series in 2009.
I went to the T-Mobile All-Star FANFEST yesterday at the Javits Center, thanks to winning a contest from Time Warner Cable, and it has something for everybody. Major League Baseball did a great job making sure that every type of baseball fan would enjoy this event.
Jesse Orosco, who made his debut in 1979 and retired in 2003, and holds the major league record for career appearances, made his presence known at two different areas of FanFest. He pitched for a total of 10 teams, including the Yankees in 2003, and his clutch relief pitching helped the Mets win the World Series in 1986. Orosco was interviewed during a segment of the Michael Kay Show live from the Javits Center and was signing autographs for a long time before that.
Other former Major League Baseball players with various amounts of fame that were in attendance and signing autographs while I was there were Barry Lyons (the back-up catcher to Gary Carter when they won the World Series in 1986), Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, George Foster, Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, among a few others. They signed autographs in designated areas and as a result of either being World Series champions or Hall of Famers they will always have a line waiting for them at events like this.
Live radio was also a prominent part of FanFest. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who rose to fame with his Mike and the Mad Dog show on WFAN with Mike Francesa, had his show on Sirius XM Radio stationed next to MLB’s booth. During commercials he interacted with fans by signing autographs and taking pictures. Something that stood out was that during the show he asked his producer how to pronounce the name of the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Edward Mujica, but the producer was caught of guard and didn’t know the answer.
As stated earlier, Michael Kay and Don La Greca also held their radio show from Fan Fest. ESPN NY 98.7 had been holding many of their radio shows live from the Javits Center since the first day of FanFest, on July 12. Seeing the show live was interesting since I was able to see what they did during commercials.
Another theme that I enjoyed about FanFest was the trivia aspect. There was a computerized game where there was one All-Star Game related question at a “first base” station, a “second base” station and a “third base” station. Then, depending on how many correct answers you got correct, you would claim a prize at home plate. I ended up winning a landyard, a wristband and something else. Also, there was more trivia set up on the stage of MLB Network where I got to spin a wheel to find out what kind of prize I would win.
There were also interactive areas where people could test out new MLB video games, try out their sliding ability, hit in a batting cage and see how fast they could throw a baseball. These events were popular with all age groups. I also got to see a display of what All-Star jerseys and lockers from players like Mariano Rivera, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrara will look like in the All-Star Game.
In another area, they had baseball’s previously signed by dozens of players like future Hall-of Famer Ichiro Suzuki, to marginal players like Tad Iguchi and Matt Laporta, to the current Yankee power hitter and great guy, Curtis Granderson. Comparing what a baseball signed by various players sold for was interesting. A baseball signed by defensive wizard, Omar Vizquel, was $125, but one signed by Hideki “The Fat Toad” Irabu was $295. Current Nationals player Denard Span’s baseball went for $79.
A final noteworthy area of FanFest for me was the Hall of Fame & Museum exhibit. The most notable jersey in this section was Babe Ruth’s jersey from 1930. George Sisler, Tris Speaker and other players from that era were also displayed, as well as a tribute to the origins of how baseball became so popular in Latin America.
It is a great thing that MLB is putting on so many events in the host city besides just the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby. MLB also staged the All-Star 5K run for Sandy Relief in Prospect Park, as well as a concert in Central Park featuring Mariah Carey and food trucks featuring food from various MLB cities whose proceeds will go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund and support people impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
The Yankees had a chance to push their lead in the American League East to 5 games, with 10 games remaining, but Brandon Morrow pitched eight dominating innings for the Blue Jays in their 3-0 victory.
This loss, in a game where Freddy Garcia was only able to pitch 4.2 innings, closed out their three city road trip where they only went 4-5. Luckily, the Red Sox are 2-8 in their last 10 games so the Yankees did not lose ground in the standings. The Red Sox now only have a two game lead in the Wild Card over the Rays after losing three out of four in the series that ended on Sunday.
Morrow only gave up four hits in his eight innings and has owned the Yankees offense this season pitching to a 1.74 ERA in three starts. However, the Bronx Bombers did not exactly send out the A lineup as Eric Chavez replaced Mark Teixiera at first, Ramiro Pena was the shortstop giving Derek Jeter the day off and Chris Dickerson got a rare start as Curtis Granderson didn’t play as a result of having a very low career average against Morrow.
All-Star second-baseman Robinson Cano got half the game off, as he was the Designated Hitter and Eduardo Nunez got the start at second base. Nunez was the only player who really showed up on offense as he improved his average from .254 to .261 with his three hits.
Another troubling sign about this game, in addition to the offensive ineptitude, was that Garcia had his third consecutive subpar start. He only gave up three runs, but Girardi took him out at the right time since he gave up five hits and three walks including two solo home runs to Adam Lind. In his two previous starts Garcia had allowed five and seven runs, respectively. Hopefully this is not a sign of what is to come as he will be needed to be relied upon as the fourth starter in the playoffs.
The Yankees bullpen continued to be a bright spot as they were lead by Luis Ayala who pitched 1.1 perfect innings, and Raul Valdes who pitched 1.1 innings, only allowing one hit in his first appearance for the team.
The imminent Comeback Player of the Year, Bartolo Colon, who was the other pre Spring Training signing to a cheap contract, also struggled mightily in his last start, on Saturday, against the Blue Jays. However, this was not totally unexpected as he has a 7.99 ERA and a .327 BAA in five starts against Toronto this season. He should be the Yankees number three starter in the playoffs.
If Manager Joe Girardi would have trotted out all of his regulars they could have had a 5.5 game lead over the Red Sox heading into their makeup game against the Twins, in the Bronx, on Monday afternoon. It is impossible to win when you don’t put any runs on the board and having all the normal starters playing would have surely helped the offensive attack.
However, this was the last chance for Girardi to give some of his injured players a day off as the rest of their games down the stretch are all critical. It is almost guaranteed that the Yankees will win the division, since they are up by 4.5 games with 10 games left but it is important to go into the playoffs with momentum.
In today’s matinee tilt against the Twins A.J. Burnett will be pitching who comes into the contest with a 5.20 ERA and 10 wins. He is lucky to have that many wins as Colon has eight wins but a very respectable 3.81 ERA. This should be Burnett’s last start of the season as he has mysteriously received a few extra starts since Girardi decided to stick with the six man rotation.
The Twins rookie, Scott Diamond, who is from Ontario, Canada, will be pitching for the Twins. Diamond went to SUNY Binghamton, in upstate New York, which is not known for producing professional baseball players. He has made only five starts after coming up from AAA Rochester and has one win with a 3.94 ERA.
Minnesota is the worst team in the American League so the Yankees need to win this game before the Tampa Bay Rays invade the Bronx for three games. The Yankees are in as strange position during the series with Tampa since sweeping the series will drastically help the Red Sox win the Wild Card.
Also, on Saturday, Granderson became the only Yankee besides Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth to have had seasons of at least 20 doubles, 10 triples and 40 homers. He has joined exclusive company as those are three of the best players of all time.