Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jeter joins Mattingly in special fraternity

All I want to do in my life is to sit in Derek Jeter's private suite at Yankee Stadium.

Seriously. That's all I want.

I can't imagine a better place on Earth. You get the deep leather seats. The unlimited Premio sausages. The constant face time on YES. The opportunity to make off-color jokes with Derek's friends. The chance to awkwardly hug Minka Kelly and perhaps inadvertently brush up against her firm buttocks once or twice.

Best of all, sitting in Derek Jeter's private suite would in all likelihood make you a friend or family member of Derek Jeter, which in turn, would make you awesome.

Perhaps I sound a tad sycophantic, or, in regards to Minka Kelly, straight-up creepy. But the love affair between Jeter and Yankees fans has gone to the next level this season, and I'm just as swept up in it as everybody else.

I grew up idolizing Don Mattingly, and I never thought I'd see a player in my lifetime who could be as beloved as Donnie Baseball. I was at Game 1 of the 1995 ALDS, Mattingly's first playoff game in 13 years, and I still get chills thinking about how the crowd lost it when he first emerged from the dugout during pregame warmups. Mattingly didn't have any rings, and he was a shell of his former self physically, but he was absolutely, uniquely, adored.

Jeter has always been adored, but never in the gutteral sense that fans loved Mattingly. That's all changing now, ironically over a team record that nobody was even aware of a month ago.

This is a good thing, since Jeter's statistical exploits have always been overlooked. Why talk about how Jeter is one of the most consistent hitters of his generation when, for the 1000th time, you can talk about how he used moxie alone to back up Shane Spencer's throw in the 2001 ALDS?

Jeter will likely finish his career amongst the all-time leaders in hits and runs scored. He'll also probably end up with around 300 homers, 400 steals and 1,500 RBIs. These are big-time Hall of Fame-worthy credentials.

Jeter has always been about intangibles. But the guy is about numbers, too. The week-long celebration that has accompanied his chase of Gehrig has provided some long overdue recognition of that fact.

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