Saturday, July 09, 2011


(Number 3000 is on its way.  Photo by Suzy Allman for The New York Times)

The haters are hating. The fans are cheering. None of it matters.

Derek Jeter collected his 3000th Major League hit this afternoon with a solo home run in the third inning at Yankee Stadium. has the video. It came off of a 3-2 pitch from David Price - his 55th pitch of the day - and tied the game at one.

It also came at 2:00 Eastern Time.  A nice coincidence.

I was watching the game in my "man cave" location, but popped upstairs as the inning began to see it with Sean, who was watching some Nickelodeon show. We sat together, nervously, as Price threw pitch after pitch. Before the big moment, I said to Sean, "I believe the pitcher will give Jeter something to hit", meaning that Price wouldn't walk him. I believed in the Rays' willingness to challenge him and tip their caps if Jeter got 3000 against them.

Then it happened. Jeter got a slider and pulled it over the left center field fence. Michael Kay called it on YES (he overdid it a touch for my taste - give me the Great Scully) and I can only imagine how John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman exploded over on WCBS AM.

But no matter, Jeter became only the second player to reach 3000 via a home run, joining Wade Boggs, a former teammate of Jeter's, who hit a Ray (then Devil Rays).

Here in the 8-4-5, we celebrated. I shot up off the couch, knowing he got all of it. Sean jumped in my arms, exclaiming "he did it", just as he did when we were at Yankee Stadium when Jeter set the team record for hits in 2009. Priceless.

A quick search of my memory bank tells me that, only in its third year, the new Yankee Stadium now has its second greatest moment. Certainly winning the 2009 World Series there should be number one, but this has to be number two (and fittingly, given a certain uniform number).

Yet while the visions of this moment are fresh, how about the class of the Tampa Bay Rays? As an fan, I hate seeing things happen against my team. But there were the Rays, led by former Yankee Johnny Damon, stepping on the field to applaud Jeter. Some of the Rays tipped their caps as Jeter trotted by.

Friends, that's top shelf, especially from a division rival.

Other than the pontificating in the broadcast booths, the Yankees deserve credit for letting the moment play genuinely. In this era of over-bloated antics, this was a nice change.

You may dislike Jeter as a player. Fair enough. You may think he's overrated. I hear that all of the time. In some ways, at times, he is overrated because nobody can be as good as he is made out to be. But you would also be tremendously uninformed. You probably haven't watched him every day.  That's what it takes to recognize what he brings to the game.

The guy has 3000 hits. He's a certain Hall of Famer. This was a moment when baseball is at its best (unlike last night at Fenway Park...stay classy, Papi).

After we all had a moment (my mom also watched it, with her love of the Yankees dating back to my baseball-crazy grandfather), I turned to Sean and said "You want to be a ballplayer? You want a role model? There he is."

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