Welcome to The Daily Yam, bringing you Yesterday’s Awesome Moment and what to look forward to today. Yesterday, Derek Jeter returned to the diamond — again — and hit a home run on the very first pitch he saw. Then we were treated to the scene above, and struck by the fact that we may have just witnessed the greatest Yankee ever embarking on his last stand.
Your Daily Yam.
Derek Jeter already returned to the Yankees lineup once this year, and it went pretty well. But his second season debut after pulling a hammy was just awesome. He swung at the first pitch he saw and hit it over the right-center field wall, a solo shot that proved to be the difference in a 6-5 win over the AL East-leading Rays. He was nearly overshadowed by new-old Yankee Alfonso Soriano, but not quite (via MLB.com):
Back in the dugout, we caught the beautiful moment seen above — Jeter glancing at the camera, on the cusp of a smile, while the batboy behind him stands in for pretty much every baseball fan there is. Even if you hate the Yankees, you have to appreciate Derek Jeter, who unlike his similarly exorbitantly paid teammates continues to come through time and again in the clutch.
And you know what? This is probably the recency effect talking, but in that moment I realized I was looking at the greatest Yankee ever. Yes, Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig stand monstrously tall in Yankees lore, but putting numbers aside for a moment: We never had the kind of access to those guys as we do to Jeter. Sure, there are videos and photos and interviews from the old Yankee greats, but in this Internet age we have followed Derek Jeter’s every move, from slight weight gains to Pittstown suppers, and yet he handles the attention the same way he does a hanging curveball. He grew up and became great in an era defined by historic feats that would later be undercut by PED admissions. Through it all, he remained the Yankees’ most consistent and often most productive player. He’s been the face of the franchise while other false prophets, seeking false profits, aspired to take the throne.
Baseball historians will be able to look back and recall moments like this — moments when the Yankees were struggling, and the Captain buoyed them with his skill and his will, and brought joy to the faces of the youth, faces which recently have been frowning with distaste for players like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun. They’ll also be able to calculate the tangibles as well, and those stack up quick nicely: to this point, Jeter is first all-time in games played for the Yankees, third in runs, first in hits, ninth in homers, seventh in RBI, first in stolen bases, sixth in batting average, first in being a horndog and number one in our hearts.
Derek Jeter isn’t considered the greatest Yankee ever by most pundits… yet. Let’s meet back here in 50 years to see how this panned out.
What’s On Tap Today?
Rays-Red Sox at 6:10 p.m. ET; Cardinals-Pirates at 7:10 p.m. ET.
It’s Monday. Bring a towel.
Screencap by the incomparable CJ Fogler.