I have let my opinion be known regarding how I feel about the New York Yankees (which is funny, really, considering that the Yankees' provenance developed right in Baltimore, Maryland, 1901). The perennial team of "haves" and World Series titles and the most-prized free agents over the last few decades or so, Team Pinstripes has been an annoyance and the object of my disaffection for years—including when they won the 1996 ALCS over the Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.
The fact that the first game of that was series was decided by a game-winning home run in the 11th inning, 5-4, by a younger and thinner Derek Jeter was not the problem for me. What still steams me is the fact that a pre-teen fan by the name of Jeffrey Maier should have been called for fan interference, sticking his grimy little digits out on that low-lying fly ball near the edge of the right-field bleachers. (Seeing that protesting look of awe and shock on O's right fielder Tony Tarasco still pains me.)
If the Yankees lost that first game, maybe that Orioles would've beaten the Atlanta Braves in the World Series and started off an illustrious four-titles-in-five-years World Series streak like how the Yankees were able to pull off from 1996 to 2000.
Maybe Davey Johnson would've stayed with the Orioles.
Maybe Peter Angelos wouldn't have still been the owner of the team.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
However, despite this vitriol, I hope that even the most loyal of O's fans don't throw rotten tomatoes at me when I say that I congratulate pretty boy Jeter, who eclipsed a 70-year franchise record (most hits) on Sept. 11, of all days, in the Boogie-Down Bronx of the new Yankees Stadium against the O's. The shortstop captain had two hits that evening as he battled the rain, nerves, and a record that had stood since April 29, 1939.
Unlike Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has shown nary a thing more besides power numbers and tabloid fodder since arriving via trade from the Texas Rangers, Jeter—the biracial Kalamazoo, Mich., native—has remained relatively healthy since his rookie season in 1995.
In addition, unlike power hitters recently accused of steroid or performing-enhancing drug use, Jeter—like his smooth countenance—has stayed clear of any failed drug tests or ignominious George Mitchell reports.
Jeter has also been unfazed (and without scandal) by the attention he has created by being with various paramours du jour (beauties such as Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly, to name a few) over the years, and seemed to resonate the look of the consummate professional on the field as well as off of it.
To see and hear Mr. Derek Sanderson Jeter reach hit numbers 2,722 and 2,723 (yes, even if a majority of those career hits has come against the O's, close to 10%) on Friday night had this O's fan giving No. 2 a standing ovation.
Even sweeter was, on his historic evening, the team lost (yes!) to Baltimore, 10-4, and then 7-3 (yes!) on Saturday. (Hey, the Yanks are 91-52; they can afford a few loses, even on New York's and Jeter's rain-soaked celebration.)