Schein on Sports: Week in review and a weekend preview (9/22-9/26)

Everything you need to know heading into the weekend in the world of sports.

Pop. Sizzle.

Start spreading the news! In case you’ve been living under a rock or with your head in the sand for the last seven months, Derek Jeter is retiring after Sunday’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

Not surprisingly, the reaction to Jeter’s “farewell tour” has been split. Some baseball fans, and many Yankees fans, have enjoyed seeing him say one final goodbye throughout baseball this year. Others have groaned at the idea of another Yankee celebration tour overshadowing everything else going on in baseball this year after seeing Mariano Rivera receive similar treatment in 2013.

Some in the media, such as Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, SNY’s Chris Carlin and ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, have gone as far as to call Jeter a hypocrite, a fraud and overrated.

Adam started out Wednesday’s show taking the haters to task.

Full disclosure: I am a Yankees fan. I grew up on the Yankees in the late ’90s. The ’96 team holds a special place in my heart for being the first Yankees team in my lifetime to win a championship. The ’98 team is arguably the greatest team in the history of baseball, if not the greatest team in the history of organized sports. Along with long-time Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, Jeter and Mariano Rivera are near the top of my list of favorite athletes ever. With Rivera retiring last year and Brodeur seemingly having played his final game in a Devils sweater in April, Jeter is the last of “my guys” from my childhood.

I give you that to give you this: People knocking Derek Jeter have no idea what they’re talking about. The haters need to shut up, and I don’t care about their opinions on this particular matter because they are wrong.

Look, there were valid complaints and criticisms with Jeter throughout this past season. He has been a roughly .600-OPS hitter throughout much of the year batting in the two-hole in a Yankees lineup that can’t score runs. He has never been a great defensive shortstop (despite winning numerous Gold Gloves) and has gotten worse in the field toward the end of this year. The only reason he was in the All-Star Game this year is because his name is Derek Jeter and the fans voted him into the game. I also think the prices for Jeter memorabilia are absurd.

Those gripes aside, Jeter is also the best shortstop of his era, and arguably the best shortstop in baseball since Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States. He had more longevity than Nomar Garciaparra. He is not a steroid cheat like A-Rod. He’s been a far better hitter than Omar Vizquel.

Jeter amassed over 1,900 runs scored and 3,400 hits. The only other players in baseball history that accomplished that? Pete Rose, Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Cap Anson. Last time I checked, one of the main objectives for any hitter in baseball is to hit the ball and score runs. He has proven to be one of the greatest tablesetters in the history of Major League Baseball.

Oh, and he was the starting shortstop for five World Series Championship teams, all of which playing under the bright lights and pressure cooker of New York City. Critics over the years have knocked Jeter by saying, “Nobody would be talking about him if he played in Kansas City.” Well, he didn’t play in Kansas City, or Milwaukee, or Houston or Oakland. (Nothing against any of those cities.) He played in New York! Bright lights! Big city! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of!

Jeter’s final home game was on Thursday night, the chance of rain disrupting his curtain call dominating headlines throughout the day. MLB had announced that if the game was rained out, it would not be made up unless the Orioles needed the game for seeding purposes in the postseason. (The Yankees had been eliminated from postseason contention the day before.) Fortunately, the rain stopped, the sun peeked through the clouds, and a rainbow appeared in the sky, because of course it did. Jeter’s last home game would start on time.

Then, the Jeter magic happened one last time at Yankee Stadium. A first-inning RBI double; what we thought was the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning.

And after David Robertson blew the Yankees’ 5-2 lead in the 9th inning, the stage was set for Jeter one more time, in the bottom of the ninth.

What else can you say? Of course Derek Jeter had the game-winning hit, because he’s Derek Jeter! Swinging at the first pitch, Jeter slapped an opposite-field single to drive in the winning run, just like he has done so many times before.

Obviously, this should come as a surprise to nobody who has followed baseball since Jeter made his debut. This is the same guy who has always been cool under pressure. Longtime Yankees radio voice John Sterling summed it up best after Jeter’s RBI double in the first inning.

The flip against the A’s. Diving into the stands against the Red Sox. World Series walkoffs. The same guy who raised his game in October. Five hits on the day he gets his 3,000th career hit, including a home run for No. 3000 and the walkoff to win the game. Was there any way that Jeter was not going to drive in the game-winning run in his final game in Yankee Stadium? With the audio recording of the late Bob Sheppard introducing Jeter one final time in front of a packed house that chanted his name throughout the night? With his family, former teammates and former managers in attendance? With Frank Sinatra blaring over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers after the game? It wouldn’t have felt right had anyone other than Jeter won the game, because he’s done it so much throughout his career. This wasn’t just seizing the moment; this was the type of script that Hollywood would reject because it seems so far-fetched and ridiculous.

For one final time in Jeter’s career, mystique and aura made a late-night appearance in the Bronx, and it was awesome. Baseball became magical and fun again during an otherwise forgettable season for the Yankees and their fans.

Adam said as much Friday during his opening monologue.

Take THAT, haters!

haters gonna hate

I’ll never understand the people who knock Jeter. Are people really that cynical today where we don’t want to celebrate the career of a player who was not only a Hall of Fame talent, but did things the right way off the field? Jeter has never been accused of hitting a woman, abusing a child, or any other horrible crime. In a day and age where few athletes can be considered role models, Jeter has been just that; somebody that I can’t wait to tell my kids and grandkids about one day. Instead of being bitter, people should just sit back, relax, appreciate what this man has accomplished and enjoy the ride for what it is. Let Jeter tip the cap and soak it in one final time. If anybody has earned it, it’s him.

I’m going to miss Derek Jeter, and you should too. He’s simply one-of-a-kind, and there will never be another like him.

GIF of the week

Since I have already dedicated this week’s edition of the Week In Review to Derek Jeter, let’s relive his final home game in GIFs. (Credit to MLB.com.)

Jeter 1

Jeter 2

Jeter 3

Jeter 4

Jeter 5

Jeter 6

Jeter 7

Jeter 8

Jeter 9

 

What to watch for this weekend

The MLB regular season concludes this weekend. The AL and NL Central Divisions are still up for grabs, as is the American League wild card. Plus, a certain Hall of Fame shortstop is wrapping up his career in Fenway Park.

Oh, and Week 4 of the NFL is here too. Enjoy the weekend.

You can follow Adam Schein, Nick Kostos, & Jared Moore on Twitter to keep track of the latest with the Schein on Sports crew!

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