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Column: Derek Jeter Immortal No More
Derek Jeter glided to his left to gather up a slow ground ball hit in his direction in-game one of the American League Championship series. The New York Yankees Shortstop, swooped down to collect the ball in the same manner a mother picks up her child who has just falling to the ground, with gently ease and great care. It is a play Jeter has made countless times over his eighteen year career, part of the routine of playing Shortstop.
Instead of making a strong throw to second baseman Robinson Cano, however, Jeter awkwardly stumbled to the infield dirt. On his way down flipping the ball weakly out of his hand like a critical injured animal that lets out one last gasp. With a mixture of pain and anger Jeter lay on the ground, looking down at his now fractured ankle that had said “no mas” at the worst possible moment.
The Baseball postseason is where Derek Jeter made his name. A five time World Series champion, Jeter has excelled when it has mattered the most for his team. Be it “The Flip” in Game 3 of the American league Division Series against the Oakland A’s. When Jeter, left his position at shortstop to run up the first base line after anticipating Right Field, Shane Spencer’s throw would miss the cut off man. Collecting the overthrown ball and gunning down Jeremy Giambi at home plate to preserve the Yankees lead in a must win game. Not to mention his game winning home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series of Byung-Hyun Kim. There was no stage too big, nor lights too bright for a player nicknamed Captain Clutch by the fans who adore him.
As a diehard Red Sox fan, I shouldn’t have cared that Jeter got hurt. No man has single handily tormented me more than Derek Jeter. Yet, the sight of Jeter vulnerable, limping off the diamond of Yankee Stadium his arms draped around the shoulder of his manager and team doctor unable to put any weight on his ankle was unnerving.
We don’t expect our Sporting Gods to end up like this, face down in the dirt, wounded in pain. Like the emperor who lost his clothes the once unbreakable Jeter was suddenly a mere mortal. At a time of year that has routinely made him seem anything but.