Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Primetime for future Yankees Old-Timers

Derek Jeter batted .334 this season. He had 212 hits, 18 homers, 30 steals, and 107 runs scored. He also played Gold Glove-caliber defense at shortstop, the game's most demanding position.

Think about that for a second.

Of all the subplots of a superb 2009 regular season for the Yankees, this is by far the most welcomed and unlikely development.

This was the season when Jeter was supposed to trend downward, his 35-year-old legs doing to him what they do to everyone else. Jeter refused to let that happen, however, rededicating himself and staying healthy to put up one of his best all-around seasons. He also made lots of sensual love to Minka Kelly.

Jeter wasn't the only Yankees veteran to stare down Father Time in 2009.

Jorge Posada, 38, came back from major shoulder surgery to put up his typically solid .285/.363/.522 campaign, clubbing 22 homers with 81 RBI. Mariano Rivera, who turns 40 next month, was magnificent again, registering 44 saves with an unreal 1.76 ERA. Andy Pettitte, 37, was projected as the No. 5 starter and ended up winning 14 games.

This won't happen again.

It wasn't supposed to happen this year, but it really won't happen in the future. The odds of all four of those players remaining healthy and effective in 2010 are about equal to the chances Miguel and Rosangel Cabrera will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

It's a wholly unique moment in the history of the franchise. In DiMaggio's rookie season in 1939, Ruth was retired and Gehrig's career and life were being cut down by ALS. By the time Mantle made his entrance in 1951, DiMaggio was a .260 hitter playing his final season. When Winfield, and eventually Mattingly, arrived in the early '80s, Reggie was clubbing homers in California and Munson was gone.

History tells us that the Yankees have a golden opportunity in front of them as the postseason kicks off on Wednesday night. You have the Old Guard of Jeter/Po/Mo/Pettitte performing at a high level alongside the New Guard of Tex/A-Rod/CC/Hughes.

It's a special moment for baseball's most historic franchise. We'll know by the end of the month if this version of the Yankees can take advantage of their unique place in time.

No comments: