People (haters) love to say Jeter was “overrated” or “he played in NY so he was “top of mind.”
As a die hard Yankee fan aka crazy sicko Yankee fan since I can remember I know what Jeter was.
As someone who grew up watching his idol Don Mattingly never win, play in one playoff series that had the worst possible ending and led to a Yankee dynasty, I know the difference between “great” and “overrated.”
“Donnie baseball” as he was called when I was a kid and still is as manager of the Florda Marlins was a true great and likely future Hall of Famer who never won and had his career ended early due to injuries. He retired after the same year that Derek Jeter had his first at bat.
My first memory of baseball was my brother sitting in our hideous blue Buick in the driveway listening to the second to last Yankee game of the 1985 season. I was 8. He was was listening in the car because it was Hurricane Gloria in Long Island and our TV/Cable was out. Mattingly made the last out in Toronto and the Bluejays won the American League East division and went on to lose in the ALCS to the ’85 World Series champions Kansas City Royals.
From that point I watched almost every Yankee game I could. I can remember crying in 1986 when Rickey Henderson made the final out in a meaningless game that the Yankees lost in the last inning.
Fast forward 10 years to 1996 when Derek Jeter showed up full time.
He was the catalyst of a dynasty. Along with Mariano Rivera and a cast of “clutch” non superstars who played their best “when it mattered.”
They went on to win 5 championships and played in 7 World Series in the next 20 or so years.
The greatest thing I ever heard about those Yankee teams came from the same brother who was listening to the game in the car in ’85. He said the reason why they won so much in those years was they were underachieving players “overachieving when it mattered.” That says everything. It all made sense when the Jeter teams of the 2000’s became a bunch of teams that were overachievers “underachieving.”
But not Derek. In a way maybe the fact that they were not winning anymore during his final years was a way for the fans to just pay attention to Jeter’s every final ab. He was not overrated, he was the greatest player in the history of sports (maybe besides Tom Brady) “when it mattered.” And “when it mattered” wasn’t just the post season, or the 13th inning when he jumped into the stands, or hitting the game winning homer in the first of the only four games ever played in November. By the way he played in all of those. “When it matters” is all the big moments and below are the final few that we forget. Tomorrow night when the Yankees retire the second to last single digit number in Yankee history (Joe Torre will be the last) reminds of us of what “happened when it mattered.” Below are a few reminders.
-In Derek Jeter’s final at bat at Yankee Stadium he hit a 9th Inning walk off base hit.
- In Derek Jeter’s final all star game he went 2–2 with a diving play at shortstop
-Jeter hit a homerun as his 3000th hit
- In the game where Jeter hit his 3000th hit he went 5–5 and had the game winning hit in the bottom of the 8th
-Jeter had an rbi base hit at fenway park in his final at bat of his career
Now Jeter will be the part owner of the Florida Marlins where the manager is “Donnie Baseball.”
Maybe he can bring his “overrrated” talents to Miami.