Wednesday, September 17, 2008

With a first inning single on Tuesday night, Jeter set a record that will stand forever

After his first inning single on Tuesday night, Derek Jeter finally captured the record for most career hits at Yankee Stadium. It took close to a minute of standing applause by the 52, 558 people in the sellout crowd for Jeter to finally take off his helmet and wave it around in appreciation.

"I'm always a little uncomfortable in those situations," Jeter said.

Jeter’s hit off Gavin Floyd was his 1,270th in the 85-year-old ballpark, which is scheduled to close for good on Sunday. However, the quickly declining Yankees will, without a doubt, miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Their 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night dropped the New York ballclub another game back of the Cinderella team now known to the world as the Rays.

Absolutely noone would write this script for the final season of the ballpark lovingly referred to as “The House that Ruth Built.”

The hit, which set a record that will never be broken, provided not only the Yankee faithful with something special to gain out of their club's miserable season, but also a memory that Derek Jeter will carry with him as long as he lives.

"It's kind of hard to enjoy it because we lost the game," Jeter said. "I was talking with my parents last night. They were saying, you know, you need to sit back and try to enjoy it while it's happening, because I'm always thinking about how we can win and things like that. But this is something that is pretty special. I mean, I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't. Records are made to be broken, but this one at least will never be broken."

The hit came in Jeter's 8,002nd major league at-bat, and he passed Gehrig for second on the Yankees' career list behind Mickey Mantle (8,102). Jeter also added a fifth-inning single.

Manager Joe Girardi had much to say about the dazzling superstar who will forever be immortalized in the minds of, not only every Yankees fan but, every baseball fan for years to come.

"He's a true Yankee," spoke Girardi. "I think he embodies what baseball people want to see in a player: a guy that goes about his business the right way. He stays out of the headlines. He just does a lot of great things. He's important to the community. He gives back all the time, to children, to everyone."

The man who held the record before Derek Jeter, Lou Gehrig, played with the Yankees from 1923—Yankee Stadium’s opening season—until 1939, when he was forced to retire due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS, which is a fatal disease that deteriorates the body’s muscle, would eventually take the life of the “Iron Horse” two years after his retirement. The 34-year-old Jeter came up with the Yankees in 1995 and, like Gehrig, quickly became the Yankee captain.

While the Yankees have faded from contention, Jeter has played his best late this year. He is batting .397 since Aug. 12, raising his season average to .306.

Jeter said of Gehrig, what he admired most about him was his consistency.

"He was as consistent probably as any player that ever played the game. What he did year in, and year out, I think it's something that all players admire," he said.

White Sox third baseman Juan Uribe, playing on the edge of the infield grass, tried to backhand the hard, grounder in the first but it went under his glove.

There have been camera flashes with every pitch thrown to Jeter in recent days. He didn’t want to react too quickly after reaching first base.

"I didn't know if it was a hit. You can't really tip your cap," he said.

Next year, New York will move to the $1.3 billion, new Yankee Stadium, which is being built directly across the street from the old Yankee Stadium.

But Jeter, surely the last of the Yankees with a single-digit number on his back, will always have the ball and the lineup card from this night. Again, this record will stand forever.

"I don't know how many can't be broken," he said. "It's pretty special, this stadium. It's kind of funny how it all worked out."

-Chris Barfield (with a special thank you to The Associated Press, and to and

Eagles at Cowboys, an old-fashioned NFC showdown

After all of the talk surrounding the loss of Tom Brady, many overlooked what turned out to be the best game of the week.

The Monday night showdown between Philadelphia and Dallas saw 7 lead changes, with Dallas finally prevailing in the 4th quarter in a 41-37 thriller at Texas Stadium. It would also be the final Monday night game ever played in the place the Cowboys have called home for over 30 years.

The game showcased two high-powered offenses lead by two volatile quarterbacks, Philly's Donovan Mcnabb and Dallas' Tony Romo.

McNabb, who resembled the sly quarterback we once knew, looked healthier and more versatile than ever. McNabb was 25 of 37 for 281 yards and a touchdown. He also had a couple of carries for 20 yards.

“These were two great football teams going at it...and there are a lot of positives we can take from this game." McNabb, always humbling, also added, "What we need to do is focus on working on the negatives."

One of those negatives was the knucklehead play by DeSean Jackson. McNabb connected with Jackson on a long pass and Jackson proceeded to toss the ball backwards in celebration before actually crossing the goal line, losing the touchdown after review. The Eagles did retain possession and would end up scoring a few plays later on a Brian Westbrook touchdown.

Dallas also had their fair share of bad plays.

Early in the game, Romo lost grip of the football on a routine hand-off and fumbled into his own end zone. The Dallas play-caller was able to recover his own fumble, but when he tried to make a play, the ball was knocked loose and recovered by the Eagles for a TD.

Romo finished 21 of 30, with 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also threw a costly pick early in the game.

Romo, who earned his fantasy owners a multitudinous amount of points this week (myself included), connected with Terrell Owens for two touchdowns. The combined effort of the two Dallas stars garnered the pair some recognition as the best quarterback/receiver duo the NFL has ever seen. When you are mentioned alongside the famed duos of the NFL, such as Montana/Young and Rice or Manning and Harrison, you are obviously doing something right.

T. O.’s two touchdowns also propelled him past Cris Carter into 2nd on the NFL’s all-time touchdown receptions list. Now, only the great Jerry Rice stands ahead of him. Rice finished his career with an astounding 197 touchdown receptions, a record some believed would never be touched. Owens 132 career touchdown receptions trails Rice by 65. T.O. is certainly on pace to break that record, granted he plays long enough while staying healthy.

Owens, always McNabb's "humble" antagonist, was quoted after the game, "It doesn't matter what [the Eagles or anyone else] say(s) about me now." He also added, "The Lord has obviously blessed me with a lot of talent."

The game really was an old fashioned NFC showdown. It was the 6th highest scoring contest in Monday Night Football history, and the first half point tally was tied for 2nd all-time on a Monday night.

If you missed this one, try to catch some highlights, because it sure was a shootout.

After the game, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said, "We kept believing in each other, and we came out on top."

If Monday night’s action wasn’t enough for you, the two teams will meet again in week 17 for the season finale of this great NFC East rivalry. After the performance each team put up on Monday night, one would tend to believe playoff implications will most certainly be on the line.

-Martin Lewis (with a special thanks going out to The Associated Press)