I feel bad for the poor bastards that just couldn’t hold it anymore. Thursday night, there had to be people that were at the stadium but in the bathroom when one of the unequivocally best things that has happened in the new Yankee Stadium took place. At the urinal or in the stall, perhaps washing their hands, or adjusting themself in the mirror, when they heard Sterling & Waldman over the bathroom speakers erupt with excitement and then the roar of the crowd flooding with praise as they witnessed pure greatness in fairy tale form.
As for me- I had finally popped my “VIP seating” cherry and oh what a night to experience it! I was readily prepared to allow excretion of any and every bodily fluid, onto my padded seat below, if my 4-5 drinks absolutely had to come out. But my bladder knew better than to do that to me on this night, and the adrenaline was pumpin’. The impending rain had held, not even a sprinkle for 8 innings of play. We all stood there in shock, as D.Rob came in and blew the save by serving up two homers…something he NEVER does.
Jose Pirella gets on, Kelleher spanks the pinch runner coming in on first, Gardner sets down a textbook sac bunt, and here comes #2 to the plate, for the last time EVER (at home) and cue the epileptic, strobe light-like, simultaneous flashes of thousands of cameras.
Emotions ran high but sadness at this moment was nowhere to be found. On the first pitch (how it always is in the movies) he hits it to his favorite spot, short right field. Watch my crazy, live video of this epic moment HERE: click this link! (WARNING: abridged version & adult language used through the excitement). After we all came down from the surprise and climax, utter joy, screaming, and asking each other to confirm what we had just seen…I felt that warm and fuzzy, happy ending, content feeling like what you experience at the end of your favorite Disney movie.
We somehow didn’t care that our rude waitress “Love” hated us for no reason, took forever, rolled her eyes, and charged us for pretzels that the stadium had suddenly “just ran out of”, didn’t get our money back, or the pretzels…but we didn’t care. This friendly guy, Michael, from Montreal (we obviously called him “Canada”) threw up the consolation Cracker Jacks into the air like celebration confetti. FYI- Yankee Stadium Concessions Manager- you totally need to fire your girl Love, because her name shows actually the complete opposite of how she feels about her job.
This is how it was supposed to end. Derek wouldn’t have it any other way but validating, yet again, his nickname of “Captain Clutch”, from now on will be a known understatement. That walk-off in the bottom of the 9th, was the cherry on top of a virtually seamless, historic career. Like it or not, the majority of baseball fans agree: Derek Jeter is an Untouchable.
Goodbyes tend to bring out the best in players. A time when magnificence is magnified and pettiness recedes. We appreciate the present before it slips, unyieldingly, into the past. As we bid farewell to the staple of New York sports. He leaves the game with his talent and accomplishments irrefutable and his modest class and demeanor irreplaceable.
Everyone talks about his: class, actions on and off the field, consistency, tunnel vision for winning, dedication to excellence, Colgate smile and humor that sparkle during interviews but I think what’s really remarkable about this guy is that fans from every other team really like him. Even if they’ve always hated the pinstripes and the Yankees organization as much as teenagers despise acne breakouts…they admit to possessing “RE2PECT” for the captain and would love to have him play for their team. Who else can that be said about in professional sports? Can you name another “face of the franchise” that is revered by even the fans from rival teams? No. No, you can’t.
What does his retirement mean? Of course, we saw all the ostentatious, ridiculously expensive and sometimes cheesy goodbye gifts given to him during his final season farewell tour. As if he couldn’t afford to go online and order all these random, personalized: guitars, plaques, kayaks, cowboy boots, watches, etc., on his own dime. Because let’s be honest- a “farewell tour” isn’t really Jeter’s style, perhaps it’s a bit more pre-scandal ARod-esque.
It means more, like, “Damn, this is it!” The warm, unparalleled security blanket of DJ comforting us that the Yankees will be OK this season, will be no more. Now, “El Capitan” along with the Yankee glory days, are in the rearview. It’s last licks to see #2 take the field, to hear the “Voice of God” recorded introduction play. We won’t see him become a MLB manager, hopefully he plays at Old Timers days. It’ll be eerie seeing a player, most of us grew up watching play, be enshrined in Monument Park.
At least we can look forward to the weekend in July, 5 years from now, when he will no doubt be a unanimous shoo-in inducted into the Hall of Fame (I better set up my tent at the site this weekend). It will surely be the hugest crowd to date (even surpassing the record-breaking crowd for Ripken & Gwynn’s year, was it ’07?). This will be arguably one of baseball’s best who’s going in as an only-Yankee. Think of the density of New York fans within driving distance of Cooperstown, plus all of the out-of-towners that will be willing and eager to make the venture.
Like I posted Friday on social media:
“I was fine last night, ecstatic even…now watching the replay today…blubbering like a little baby. Steps 3 & 4: bargaining and depression. Oh. My. God.”
It will hit all of us fans in different ways and at different times. I know, Opening Day 2015 will probably be hardest for me to swallow. As for me, I cannot be stoic as he is, through this all. Who says there’s no crying in baseball? Sorry Mr. Dugan, but this grieving process is sure to take some time and seeing our Yankees without our beloved captain, is gonna take some getting used to. He was the last piece (of the Core Four) left and has now been stripped from our baseball life, just as our childhood is taken from us after growing up.
The once-prodigy, turned proven hero, is now a 40-year-old (which is like 70 in baseball years) man who’s tired and wants to abandon his pinstripes to settle down to a regular life. We used to get chills from his “I Live For This” and VISA commercials, now we still get chills but they’re from his Gatorade & Jordan goodbye commercials, soon to see their last airings. His swan song could not have been any sweeter. DER-EK JETE-R, is, was, and forever will be our Yankee Savior.