As many of you are aware, I split my time as an editor. I work for two sites couldn’t be more polar opposites on the Fansided MLB Division. On one end, I push the buttons at Yanks Go Yard, our New York Yankees’ affiliate site, and of course, here at Friars On Base for the Padres. Both organizations have always been near and dear to my heart, so it’s a rarity that I get to perform work for not one, but two loves in my life.
I’m sure all of you are also aware, that the Yankees’ team captain, Derek Jeter, is playing his final game in pinstripes tonight in the Bronx against the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees were eliminated from postseason play yesterday, with another sub-par offensive performance against the AL East champion O’s. In 20 years, do you know how many games Derek Jeter has played in that the Yankees were mathematically eliminated from October baseball? After tonight, two. Yep. Two games in twenty seasons, the Yankees were out of it with Derek Jeter on the field. The other instance? The final season of another legend, the might Yankee Stadium back in 2008. We can’t count last season, because Jeter was shut down due to lingering ankle and leg injuries that held him to only 17 contests in 2013.
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The Captain does have some history against the Padres. I should know. I was in attendance when the Yankees stormed the field after completing arguably the greatest team season in baseball history. In 1998, the Yankees, including the postseason, went 125-50, culminating with a sweep of the Padres in Southern California. That series seems like a lifetime ago. From Tony Gwynn‘s home run in the Bronx, to Tino Martinez‘s grand slam off of Mark Langston, to Scott Brosius putting the final nail in the coffin against Trevor Hoffman, it was a memorable series for me as a fan of both teams.
But how did Derek Jeter stack up against the current version of the Padres? Not well if that is any consolation. In 37 at-bats, Jeter has six whole hits. That’s good for a .162 batting average, along with one RBI, three drawn walks and 11, count ’em, 11 strikeouts against the Padres’ power arms. Which Friars’ pitcher owns the retiring shortstop? Of course it’s Joaquin Benoit from his days in the American League.
What are Jeter’s numbers against the Padres over his entire career? Let’s take a closer look. In 10 games not including the 1998 World Series, and we’ll get to that in a moment, it’s a different story for the sixth all-time leader in base hits. Jeter is a career 13-for-41, good enough for a .317 clip, or just above his career batting average, with four runs, a pair of doubles, and four runs driven in. Jeter also stole a pair of bases against the Friars.
While Petco Park and the Padres were not among the teams and places on the Derek Jeter Farewell Tour in 2014, the gift of Jeter’s second World Series ring will more than make up for that. At the tender age of 24, the Yankees’ shortstop had himself quite a Fall Classic against San Diego. In 17 at-bats, Jeter had 6 hits, scored four runs and drove in one himself. That was a .353 average during the four-game sweep.
Many fans are still upset that Derek Jeter’s retirement overshadowed Major League Baseball and Fox Sports acknowledging the passing of another all-time great in Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter had kind words for Mr. Padre shortly after his death:
"“My first memories are of watching Tony as a player…Remembering him winning all those batting titles [eight], hitting over .300 every year, and then having the pleasure to play against him, especially in that World Series. He was somebody I admired and respected. He didn’t disappoint when it came time to meet him.”(h/t, Barry Bloom, MLB.com)"
Both Derek Jeter and Tony Gwynn are similar in several ways. In an era of players jumping teams, each stayed loyal to their original franchise. While Gwynn stayed when more money was on the table, that was never the issue for Jeter. Both men were the face of their respective franchises for the better part of two decades. Neither man threw tantrums, showboated, and the like. They let their performance speak for itself. Both men were about the team first mentality, and winning was all that mattered. For these two all-time greats to have crossed paths in one Fall Classic, as a fan of both teams and players, it didn’t get much better than that for me personally. Jeter concludes:
"“A lot of times, when you meet guys that you have watched growing up and have respected, you’re almost in awe that they’re just talking to you, so you don’t really remember what they’re saying…Does that make sense? That home run he hit in the World Series? That was a bomb. I’m just glad I had an opportunity to play against him.”"
Best of luck in your future endeavors Derek Jeter, and thank you for however brief it was, making a mark in the history books of the San Diego Padres as well!