Thursday, September 25, 2014

How Profoundly Did Jeter Impact My Life?

There's been a lot of love going around for Derek Jeter the last few months, and it's reached a fever pitch these past few days. Some of my favorite tributes are here and here. And here:

I'm just warning you now that I'm about to break the idol-worship-ometer in this post. You've been warned.

On Wednesday morning, SportsCenter re-ran a special Top 10 of Jeter's best moments. Unsurprisingly, I remember where I was for almost every single play. I've written before about how much I'll miss the Yankees of my youth, but here's one last reminder of the impact Jeter had on my life. Let's take a look at that Top 10:

Now, for my personal memories of each play:

10. Hit Number 1
I was in bed on a school-night, like some sort of nerd. I do remember reading about the hit the next day and wondering if the Yankees had finally found a replacement for the light-hitting, boring-as-hell Tony Fernandez.

9. Opening Day, 1996
This was a day game in Cleveland, and I was at school. (Again, NERD!) That day -- Game 1 of the 1996 season -- began the best stretch of my sports-fan life. Unfortunately, this is the rare iconic Jeter play that I don't remember vividly. I apologize, Captain.

8. First Career Grand Slam
I was playing Wiffle Ball with the Murphy brothers and my dad told me about the grand salami when I came inside. Jeter's two homers that day represent a small part of The Captain's considerable legacy.

7. Leadoff Home Run, Game 4, 2000
As was the case for many of these moments, during this game I was working on my ass-groove in my parents' couch.

As Mike Francesa would say, this was a YUUUGE, YUGE play. The Mets had won Game 3 to make it a series, but the Yanks never looked back after Jeter's homer.

6. Hit Number 2,722
When Jeter passed Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees' all-time hits leader, I was at the Stadium with my dad. It's a total cliché, but how many father-son relationships was Jeter an integral part of?

5. The Jeffrey Maier "Catch"
Every prepubescent boy in the tri-state area secretly envied Jeffrey Maier in 1996. I was working on my ass-groove for this play, too.

4. The Dive
On this night in July 2004, I was 17 years old and came home from a bonfire party. Normally, my parents would have been asleep, but the Yankees-Red Sox game kept them up that night. That was crappy news for Drunken Underage FranT. Fortunately, the game was so captivating that they seemed like they didn't notice my BAC. I made it home in time for Jeter's play and John Flaherty's game-winning hit. Definitely a solid summer night.

3. Mr. November
I was watching this game with my dad. I fell asleep for a few of the middle innings, but he woke me up in the ninth. I cheered with Dad for the rest of the game, culminating in a series of high fives, high-pitched screams, and high-intensity hugs after Jeter's homer.

2. The Flip
I was at a Christening party for one of my 230,000 cousins. After the play, Fox quickly went to a commercial, leaving many of us wondering what the hell had just happened. I thought that pitcher Mike Mussina had made the terrific play, a reasonable conclusion because Moose was a Gold Glover and because there's no freakin' way a shortstop should have been in that spot.

I've read and heard a few people opine that The Flip is overrated. Those people should be tortured by Sayid Jarrah until they admit that they're wrong.

1. Hit Number 3,000
This game took place on a Sunday, and I watched it with two buddies in my bandbox of a Bronx apartment. We drank a bunch of beer, ate White Castle belly-bombers, and talked about how excited we were to read all the New York papers the next day. Yes, Derek Jeter made three twenty-somethings excited to read newspapers. Is there anything he couldn't do?


During Wednesday night's telecast, YES ran this clip:

No. Thank you, Derek. You've been a huge part of my life, and I'll certainly never forget it.

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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