Derek Jeter Must Retire Now

Derek Jeter must retire now. Effective immediately. Before these final four home games against the Baltimore Orioles. His season and career over. For good. No more farewell tour. No more parting gifts. No more self indulgent sports drink commercials. No more out of character photo essays in local magazines. That’s it. Time for everyone to move on. Jeter. The Yankees. And the fans. Because at this rate, if he plays out the final week of the season then someone is going to get hurt. Like seriously. We’re talking broken limbs, fractured skulls, bruised egos you name it. And it it can all be avoided if manager Joe Girardi does what’s right, what’s required, and keeps his legendary shortstop out of the lineup.

The proof that something seriously wrong could and will happen if the situation is not resolved immediately is in the posh Yankee Stadium stands and bleachers where several incidents have already occurred demonstrating the severity of the threat. Fans, ushers and vendors are in jeopardy of a catastrophic injury every time Derek Jeter comes to the plate. Since it was announced way back in spring training that this would be Jeter’s final season in pinstripes, people have been lining up to grab a slice of history and in recent weeks the most prized piece of memorabilia has not been an autograph or picture but a foul ball off the bat of the Yankee captain.

Innocent bystanders have turned to cautionary tales as this battle for super fandom has been raging for some time now. Two weeks ago when the Yankees hosted the Kansas City Royals a man nearly lost both life and limb in pursuit of a Derek Jeter foul ball. The incident occurred during Jeter’s 5th inning at bat when on a 0-0 count he fouled a fastball straight back over the screen towards the broadcast booths. The ball ricocheted off the facade of the Delta Sky Suites directly into the outstretched hands of a husband and wife who were visiting Yankee Stadium with their two kids for the first time this season. As the happily married couple secured the baseball, their beautiful children rejoicing at their good fortune, another man, perhaps 45, with headphones covering his ears, body slammed the husband to the ground and pried the baseball from the wife’s hand. Boos rang through out the section as this overzealous man-child retreated to his seat with his new prize tucked safely in a fanny pack while the family of four was reduced to tears as they gently bandaged the husband’s bloody knee with leftover napkins from a Lobel’s roast beef sandwich. The Yankees did their best to cover up the ugly affair by offering the family the alleged baseball Derek Jeter warmed up with before the game, which was a nice gesture yet will not make up for the pain and suffering associated with coming this close to history only to have that memory dashed like the 2014 Yankees playoff chances.

And just think, all of this could have been avoided if Joe Girardi and the Yankees front office did what was right and kept their captain on the bench. Baseball writers and some disgruntled fans have been calling for Jeter to play less due to on field performance which is not enough of a reason especially when the roster was so clearly overmatched and outclassed by more formidable teams like the Baltimore Orioles. No the only reason why Derek Jeter’s farewell tour and illustrious career must end now is because the longer he plays the more likely it is that some fan, perhaps a father, maybe a mother, gets seriously injured while trying to catch a foul ball.

It’s the right thing to do, for the fans.

That Time I was Booed at Camden Yards for Cheering On the Orioles

In honor of the 3 game series opening this evening in Camden Yards between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, I figured this was an appropriate time to pass along the story of how I was heckled and told to sit down for rooting for the O’s in BALTIMORE!!!!

For years now, well really since the Orioles last winning season in 1998, and especially after Cal Ripken retired in 2001, the club has struggled to draw fans to Camden Yards. The appeal of the still gorgeous looking, trailblazing retro ballpark has not been able to overcome rosters full of overpaid (Albert Belle), over the hill (Miguel Tejada the 2nd time) players and an owner in Peter Angelos who Orioles fans loathe with a passion akin to maybe only the budding relationship between Jerry Seinfeld and Donald Trump. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with its various attractions, restaurants, and aquarium, still attract tourists to the downtown area but these crowds do not always migrate the 6 blocks or so west to the Warehouse to catch a baseball game. That is unless the Orioles are hosting either the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees.

Like a swarm of locusts they descend upon the Charm City devouring anything that crosses their path. Merchants and hotels love it when these two teams are in town because it means a tremendous boost in sales. Orioles season ticket holders enjoy the return on their investment as Yankee and Red Sox fans are more than willing to shell out the extra dough for a game at Camden Yards because it still cheaper, travel down the northeast corridor included, than taking a family of four to a game at either Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park.

All of this being said, having so many Sawx and Yanks fans in OPACY does not make for an enjoyable experience if you happen to support the home team. Now to my tale. It had to have been around 5 years ago that my girlfriend, now wife, and I made what has become our annual trip down to Baltimore to catch a couple of Oriole games. For us, we go all in. Fancy Hampton Inn 25 minutes outside of the city? Done. Nothing but the finest dinners at places like Pizzerio Uno and Hooters? You got it! We live for the entire experience. That was until the moment where I was belittled in my own ballpark.

I think it was right after I stood up to celebrate a Jeff Conine home run against the Yankees that a New York fan in the Eutaw Street bleachers told me to “sit down and shut up”. If this were Yankee Stadium, I understand a fan defending their turf but this was Oriole Park and as an Oriole fan I thought I had a right to root for the home team. My reaction to this verbal chiding? Nothing. Zero. Bupkis. And here’s why, when the Yankees and Red Sox are in town, their fans outnumber Oriole fans 5 to 1. I must have been surrounded by an entire section of Staten Island’s finest. In this moment of spiritual survival I couldn’t locate a single ally.  A verbal and/or physical altercation would not have worked out for me. Speaking up also would have put my girlfriend in jeopardy of verbal abuse and I wasn’t about to bring that sort of ridicule and embarrassment onto her.

5 years, and as many losing seasons later, I have had to live with the shame of being booed in Camden Yards for cheering on the Orioles. I must also live with my wife constantly reminding me and anyone else who will listen that when confronted by a Yankee fan in Oriole Park, I stood down and did nothing. Of course pride is often the highest form of self indulgence so I can keep my head high while continuing to avoid Camden Yards anytime the Red Sox and Yankees are in town.

view from Camden Yards courtesy of @vtbeach

ALCS: Cliff Lee Successful in Tryout for 2011 Yankees

At some point this winter, someone is going to construct a formula that will show just how much money Cliff Lee made himself pitching Game 3 of the ALCS.  The “soon to be free agent” was simply dominant against an overmatched,aging New York Yankee lineup.  It was such a struggle for the Yankees, and their fans, that the entire stadium stood and applauded a full count to Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the 4th inning.  More impressive than his final line (8IP, 2H, 1BB, 13K, 0ER) was the way Lee went about carving up the best lineup in baseball.  He was not so much overpowering as he was accurate.  How many Yankees couldn’t resist swinging at that 2 seamer tailing away from the strike zone?

So where do we go from here?  Early word this morning is that AJ Burnett is still scheduled to take the mound in Game 4.  We shall see if this actually happens because I’m sure Joe Girardi is feeling the pressure to go with Sabathia in game 4 and 7, if necessary.  By the way, I think the Yankees still have a great shot to win this series.

MLB Playoffs: League Championship Series Open

Fans turned out in record numbers to watch Cy Young award winners CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, and Roy Halladay take to the mound in the opening weekend of the MLB League Championship series.  It comes as a major surprise  that, with all this pitching talent, Cody Ross would be the player every fan is talking about this morning.  Ross, who came over from the Marlins in a late season trade, belted 3 homeruns this weekend, 2 off of Halladay Saturday night, to lead the Giants to a crucial 1-1 series split in Philadelphia.  As the games shift west to San Francisco, expect to see more great pitching as the likes of Matt Cain and Cole Hamels prepare to take their turn.

Sabathia and the Yankees are relatively lucky to leave Arlington with a 1-1 split. Except for the 8th inning of game 1, the Rangers have outhit, outpitched, and outplayed New York.  Tonight represents an enormous game for the Yankees, who will face Cliff Lee and his impressive playoff ERA.  Yankee fans are hoping that Andy Pettitte can come through tonight because that means that unless Joe Girardi sends Sabathia back to the mound on short days rest, AJ Burnett will start game 4 for NY down 2-1 in the series and that makes all Yankee fans very, very nervous.