Now a days it is hard to find a player as well liked and respected as Derek Jeter. Last night’s All-Star Game festivities was a prime example of that. This was Derek Jeter’s 14th and final All-Star Game appearance, and it was only proper to pay homage to a living legend such as himself. Personally I believe Major League Baseball, the people of Minnesota, and his fellow competitors did a great job in honoring Derek Jeter last night. To start the night off, Derek gave his team a pregame speech, and in typical Derek Jeter fashion he decided to thank his American League teammates rather than make it about himself. The entire night seemed too good to be true, as if it were scripted for a play, but that is exactly how it should have felt.
To start off the game, Derek was tested in the field. Derek made a diving stop on a sharply hit ball up the middle and nearly threw out the speedy Andrew McCutchen at first base. It was funny to hear Derek Jeter say, during his 4th inning interview with Tim Kurkjian, that he wishes he could have thrown the replay flag on that play. Side Note: What is the umpire thinking not calling McCutchen out on sheer principal???? What transpired in the bottom of the 1st inning was priceless and yet again perfect. Derek Jeter was called to the plate by the late great Bob Shepard, something that has happened since the dawn of time in Yankee Stadium. As Derek approached the plate, he was ready to dig in and get this show on the road, however, Adam Wainwright and the fans had other plans. Wainwright, being the class act that he is, set his glove down on the mound and stood halfway between the mound and second base. Wainwright had no intentions of interfering with the 63-second standing ovation that the fans in Minnesota gave Derek. When Derek’s first at-bat finally got under way, on the second pitch, Derek drove the ball the opposite way (in typical Derek Jeter fashion), for a stand-up double. We have watched that inside out swing of his for 20 years now, a swing that has produced 3,408 regular season hits (9th on the all-time list). After Derek’s double, he was promptly driven in by the living, breathing version of He-Man; Mike Trout. As we fast forward to the 3rd inning, Derek notched another All-Star Game hit on his belt, where else but to right field (this one of the bloop variety). This final hit brought his all time All-Star Game batting average up to .481 (13 for 27), which is 2nd all time.
The start of the 4th inning seemed like any other. The players for the American League took the field and went through their warm-up routines, but boy were they in for a surprise. Just as warm-ups concluded and the inning was about to start, American League Manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez out to shortstop to replace Derek Jeter. This move allowed Derek to receive an individual standing ovation, which lasted about 2 and a half minutes. In the dugout, Derek went to every person on the roster and gave them their own personalized hug. I think he even gave the grounds crew members a hug on his way out of the stadium too. And as expected, the fans continued cheering until Derek came out for a well deserved curtain call. Last night was nearly perfect for Major League Baseball, for the fans, and for Derek Jeter. The only part that they missed (besides not calling McCutchen out on the play at first) was not giving Derek the All-Star Game MVP Award. All the baseball writers of the world can talk about how last night was the passing of the torch from Derek Jeter to Mike Trout (who won the MVP Award) all they want, but that is incorrect. Last night was about Derek Jeter and Derek Jeter alone. Last night’s game was not about, and should never be, about home field advantage in the World Series. It was about one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. It was about paying tribute to one of the most decorated careers in baseball history. No one handles themselves better in these situations than The Captain. Over his career he has always remained gracious and most importantly he is never selfish. Last night was another testament to that and the greatness that is Derek Jeter.
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