Last night, Andy Pettitte had one bad inning, the bullpen couldn’t hold the line, the offense couldn’t break through, and the Yankees lost 6-2. Sing me a new song.
As early as tomorrow this game will be remembered for just one reason. In the bottom of the first inning, Derek Jeter hit a hard grounder to third base on the first pitch he saw from White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. Sox third baseman Juan Uribe was playing in and dropped to one knee in an attempt to backhand the ball. Instead it shot through his legs. Jeter was awarded a hit, which pushed him past Lou Gehrig as the man with the most hits in the history of Yankee Stadium. It looked like an error to me, but Jeter made that irrelevant with a single in the fifth.
I mocked the attention lavished on Jeter for passing Babe Ruth for second on the Yankees’ all-time hit list, and YES’s coverage of last night’s hit and the hits leading up to it–particularly Michael Kay’s call of the hit (“Hit or error? Error or history?”)–was every bit as over-the-top if not moreso, but I actually think this record is pretty nifty. For one thing, it’s an actual record. For another, as Kay histrionically pointed out on the broadcast, it’s a record that can’t be broken. Sure, Gehrig had far fewer at-bats at the old Yankee Stadium than Jeter has had in the remodeled one, but there’s a purity and an absoluteness to “the most ever” that even applies to Barry Bonds.
Best of all, this is a record that honors not just the man who broke it, but the Stadium in which it was achieved. Yankee Stadium will go dark for good six days from now, but though there will never again be a meaningful game played in the old yard, and the Yankees as an organization have completely punted the opportunity to do something special for the final season of baseball’s most significant ballpark, Jeter was able to give us one last piece of history, and a private kind of history at that. For all of the great performances, accomplishments, and players who have graced the field on the southwest corner of 161st and River Ave over the past 86 years, the player who got more hits on that piece of real estate than anyone else ever has or ever will is Derek Jeter. I think that’s pretty cool.