New York Yankees: Three Must See Regular Season Series

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees play plenty of tough regular season series against challenging teams, but there are some that you just don’t want to miss. Here are three to circle on your calendar:

April 2-5: Toronto Blue Jays

This series is the first home series for the Yankees. They play on the 2nd, 4th, and the 5th at 1pm. The 3rd is the rainout date for the 2nd. Fans will have their first opportunity to see new players for the first time. Assuming that Gerrit Cole pitches on opening day, he will be in line to pitch the final game against the Blue Jays or the first game against the Orioles (the 6th).

Fans will also have an opportunity to see some great young talent on the Blue Jays. Though they kill the Yankees, guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio are very fun to watch.

June 26-28: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs come to town early in the year with a new manager (David Ross) and just the fact that they are in the NL. You only have an opportunity to see an NL Central team at home every six years, so take advantage of it. They will be towards the top of the National League again.

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Anthony Rizzo are also fun players to watch, and it should be a really fun series.

September 21-24: Houston Astros

The Astros come to town at the end of the season, and this should be the most entertaining series of the year. Not just that both teams are stacked, but Gerrit Cole faces his old team and it will be the first time that the Yankees are facing them at home since the cheating scandal.

It’s gonna be sold out at the Stadium, and fans aren’t going to let the Astros hear the end of it. Should be highly entertaining.

I didn’t put any of the Red Sox series down because they faceoff 19 times per year. No series will be astronomically different from the usual rivalry antics.

 

New York Mets: Van Wagenen says Cespedes will be ready for Spring Training from “an offensive standpoint”

Now that he is running, batting and doing several baseball-related activities, the attention is now over Yoenis Cespedes. The New York Mets’ outfielder is recovering from multiple heel surgeries and ankle fractures.

He hasn’t played since 2018, yet he is highly motivated to make the Mets’ opening day roster. The team managed to restructure his deal and Cespedes went from making almost $30 million to just $6 million guaranteed. He can earn more through incentives, and playing from day 1 would take the guaranteed amount from $6 million to $11 million.

The Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters today that Cespedes will be ready to go for spring training from an “offensive standpoint.” It is not clear how much time he will need to be ready to defend the outfield adequately, without giving up any competitive advantages.

The GM said that Cespedes “continues to build his progression running, catching fly balls, etc.”

Cespedes, who is 34 years old, as involved in an incident with his boar at his ranch. That resulted in severe ankle injuries and the subsequent restructuring of his deal.

The Mets continue to explore trade possibilities

The team has also, reportedly, explored trade avenues for the Cuban slugger. The pay cut generated a buzz of interest around the league, but nothing has materialized so far. He remains a veteran, injury-prone player coming from multiple surgeries and teams won’t give up significant assets.

He may be an ideal fit for an American League team given that he could occupy the designated hitter spot. No deal seems imminent, though. He may very well start the season with the New York Mets.

Even if he is healthy to start the season, Cespedes will have a lot of competition for playing time. The Mets currently roster Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, Jake Marisnick and even Dominic Smith as outfielders.

The New York Mets’ universe reacts to the Luis Rojas’ hiring

The New York Mets finally have someone at the helm. They went the internal route and appointed quality control coach Luis Rojas as the team’s next manager. It will be, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, a multi-year contract.

The Mets were sold on Rojas for quite some time. They delayed things a bit, however, because they were reportedly convincing themselves to go into the season with someone with no managerial experience in the bigs and no prominent player career like the one Carlos Beltran had.

The New York Mets’ players loved the Rojas pick

The Mets universe, however, loved the team’s pick, and they went to Twitter and other social media outlets to express their happiness.

“Loved having Luis in ‘17 and ‘18 as my AA manager! It’s awesome playing under him and having him on staff last year as well!!! Super pumped to have him as the Jeffe. Also he throws some damn good bp #LFGM,” were the words of Pete Alonso, the Mets’ first baseman and reigning Rookie of the Year.

Meanwhile, starter Marcus Stroman didn’t hide his joy. “LUIS ROJAS! Love love love it. Loved being around him on the bench last year. Always teaching and full of knowledge. Super laid back and brings nothing but great vibes each and every day. Beyond even keel. Excited even more for the year! @Mets.”

First baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith was more “visual” than “talkative:”

The media also had some interesting takes about Rojas

“The Mets have inadvertently hired a highly qualified manager,” Keith Law said, while Tim Heiman stated that “Luis has a spectacular ability to see things from other people’s perspective: Players, coaching staff, front office, media, fans, clubhouse staff. One of the most empathetic individuals in the game. He has the perfect mindset and temperament to succeed in this role.”

Only time will tell if Rojas will have a successful stint as the manager of the New York Mets. He is, however, prepared for the role and the challenge of leading a major league team.

New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez returns ripped and ready to go for spring training

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees have solidified nearly every position on the field, but the catcher spot has been troublesome due to consistent injuries to Gary Sanchez.

A groin ailment has plagued Sanchez for the past few seasons, and it struck once again in 2019 as he attempted to slide into second base. The injury hampered his production during the postseason, but he still managed to battle it out, despite posting abysmal numbers.

The most important thing for Sanchez is to remain healthy, as consistency continues to be the epitome of his demise. Regular at-bats and starts allow him to gain confidence and establish his eye for the ball, a factor that has fluctuated due to separate stints on the injured list.

However, hiring Eric Cressey, a well-known strength and condition coach should help alleviate soft-tissue concerns for players like Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton. Aside from hiring Cressey, Sanchez is looking lean and ready to roll into spring training.

While injuries have derailed El Gary at times, he posted substantial numbers in 2019 (.841 OPS, 34 home runs). These numbers are adequate, but his potential currently lands at (.923 OPS – career-high).

The Yankees’ batting order needs consistency in 2020, and Sanchez slotting in at No. 5-6 in the order would give them another slugger to work off of. With Aaron Judge, Stanton, Luke Voit, Sanchez, and even Gleyber Torres all featuring close together, it’s fair to assume the Bombers might set a few records next season.

Are the New York Yankees in over their heads?

Pinstripe Alley details an interesting point regarding Sanchez’s arbitration pay-day:

What’s a first year arbitration-eligible catcher worth? One who has posted 11.4 fWAR in his first four seasons, despite never appearing in more than 122 games in a season? If you’re the Yankees, you apparently believe he’s worth the second-highest contract ever given to a catcher in his first round of arbitration. Over the weekend the club and Gary Sanchez agreed on a $5 million dollar deal, avoiding the maligned arbitration process entirely.

The most pressing concern isn’t specifically related to Sanchez but rather his backups. With Kyle Higashioka set to be Gary’s reserve option, the Yankees are taking a big risk at the position, and it could end up stabbing them in the back if they’re not careful.

New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist Showing Eli Manning-Like Class in Backup Role

New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist

The New York Rangers and the New York Giants have something in common: their long-time face of the franchise has handled their demotion to backups with class and dignity. The soon to be retired Eli Manning handled his demotion this year behind rookie Daniel Jones without any public complaining or dramatics. Blueshirt goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has done quite the same as he has been backing up youngsters Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

The New York Ranger Goalie did not see much action in January

Since Shesterkin was promoted on Jan 3, Lundqvist has been the backup for six of the past seven games. His only start was the most difficult match of the month, a road trip to the defending Stanley Cup Champions St. Louis Blues. For the other six contests, Lundqvist has been the backup in all of these contests. Head Coach David Quinn has done this to provide a safety blanket in case either of the youngsters falters.  Quinn also indicated that he wants Lundqvist around the team by stating that “He’s a guy who carries a lot of weight in that locker room. I want him around, and I want him to be part of the game.” The best part of this is that he has accepted and at least publically embraced the role. Not only has he done this, but he has also been seen working after practice with the “third” goaltender, the player who will not dress for the next game and get less practice time than the other two goalies. He has also been one of the first players off the bench to congratulate his fellow goaltender when they have won.

Like Eli Manning, The New York Ranger Veteran is handling the situation with class and dignity

Especially during the last month, the Ranger goalie has dealt with the difficult three goaltender situation quite well. Unintentionally, Coach David Quinn praised Lundqvist for accepting the role in a manner consistent with Eli Manning when he said: “It’s about players adapting in their careers, and as their careers evolve.” Quinn also went on to say that “Henrik is in a situation where he’s obviously not playing the amount he’s played in the past. That doesn’t mean he’s not a really good goalie. We have faith in him. But our organization feels that we’re gonna have three goalies here as of right now, and that is the situation we are in.” And like Eli Manning, he has not made any public statements condemning the situation, this in spite of some rumblings on social media that he waive his no-movement clause and make way for his younger counterparts. New York sports fans have to be quite happy to have such stalwart cornerstones of their teams for almost two decades.

New York Yankees: Latest on Josh Hader & J.A. Happ

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

A month ago, the hot stove was cooking for the New York Yankees. The Yankees had agreed to terms with Gerrit Cole and Brett Gardner, and they were hot on the trail for star reliever Josh Hader. In addition to looking to acquire Hader, they were talking with multiple clubs about trading starting pitcher J.A. Happ. So, what has happened in the last month? The Yankees have been very quiet, and all talks that they had going on have seemed to cool. I’ve reached out to a few folks to see if I could get a read on what is going on in the world of the New York Yankees.

What’s up with Josh Hader?

Let’s start with the Josh Hader rumors. Empire Sports was reporting that the Yankees were “Aggressive” in their pursuit of Josh Hader a few weeks ago. That information came from sources close to the Brewers organization. Various reports in the mainstream media were linking Josh Hader to the Yankees.

Well, the Yankees were aggressive, but mostly have backed away from the poker table with the Brewers. What I mean by that is they have let the Brewers know where they would go to acquire him and scooted back from the table after laying those cards down.

The two teams discussed Miguel Andujar, Deivi Garcia, and multiple other prospects, but it’s not known what offers, if any, Cashman put up for Hader. Cashman is known for being a tough negotiator and usually only offers something when he’s really serious, whether it be a trade offer or a free agent contract. He often speaks in parameters instead of solid pieces.

I think another thing that has stalled the Josh Hader talks is his arbitration hearing. Hader is a super two player who filed for a record, $6.4 million, while the Brewers came in at $4.1 million. That is a considerable gap, and many teams backed away without knowing precisely what Hader will be making next year. Remember, the Brewers have never needed to trade Hader but were entertaining offers because of the haul that they could get for him considering his four years of club control.

The Brewers still have holes on their roster, but not as many as they did a month ago, making the deal less and less likely. I think after Hader’s salary is determined, you will see teams revisit the Hader discussions, but the sources I spoke to in Milwaukee, who were once confident he would get traded, now believe he will likely start the season in Milwaukee.

Is Happ going to be a Yankee in 2020?

In my first article with Empire Sports, I talked about how the Yankees trading J.A. Happ was inevitable. J.A. Happ is set to make a whopping $17 million this upcoming season after his awful 2019 season. He was so bad that he didn’t even make one start in the postseason for the New York Yankees. J.A. Happ is a solid veteran pitcher, but he is not worth the $17 million he is owed in 2020.

The Yankees have been exploring deals all offseason with teams to see if they could get anyone to take on his salary in 2020. The Yankees payroll is close to $260 million, which is over the third luxury tax threshold. From what I can tell, the Yankees have kept dialogue alive with multiple clubs about J.A. Happ.

However, teams are very reluctant to take on the money that Happ is owed, and they are just in their caution. The Yankees would only get someone to take Happ’s full contract if they attached a top prospect with him. At one point, it looked like the Yankees might be willing to do that, but it has become apparent that they are not enthusiastic about that option.

I personally still believe that Happ will get traded before the season starts. The trade could come in the next couple of weeks, or it could occur during the final week of Spring Training. I think the Yankees envision Jordan Montgomery as their fifth starter for 2020 behind Cole, Severino, Paxton, and Tanaka. Time will tell if Happ is still on the team, but if the Yankees do hold onto Happ, you can bet they will manipulate his innings, so his $17 million option does not vest for 2021.

New York Yankees: The Flip of a Quarter at Third base

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

With Spring Training just around the corner, the nerves and anxiousness that come with seeing the Yankees take the field for the first time in months come with it. All offseason there has been speculation, rumors — some true, others not so much, and many discussions about what the Yankees can do to get even BETTER, with one of the main discussion points; what should the Yankees do about their third base situation.

While there are only two true contenders for the position this upcoming season, I still expect Estrada, Wade, or even LeMahieu to see some time at third this next year. With that, the true candidates are of course Miguel Andujar and 2019 fan favorite, Giovanny Urshela. I am a firm believer in Andujar’s offensive abilities, and I think he can only go up from his 2018 electrifying rookie showcase of a season. Urshela brings a more contact driven approach, and pairs it with a better defense than Dujar. That is the main discrepancy between the two, as it is the universal belief that Gio is the far better defensive man of the pair — thus he deserves the starting spot at the hot corner.

Andujar or Urshela- defensively

However, in this article, I figured I’d discuss the true defensive differences between the two players, and how ultimately playing Andujar at third may not be as costly as one may think. Below is a table comparing a handful of defensive stats of both Urshela and Andujar (* = 2018, info via Fangraphs):

Gio Urshela Miguel Andujar*
Innings Played at 3B 978.1 1169.1
Errors Committed 13 15
UZR/150 -3.4 -24.5
DRS -4 -25
Plays Made 177 149

Now, at first look it appears as if Andujar is OBJECTIVELY worse at the position, as the stats seemingly indicate. However, the difference between two guys that are both below average — Andujar significantly below — defensively, shouldn’t be the thing keeping Andujar off the field. Urshela is a great player in his own right, but to parade him as this excellent defender is a false statement.

There’s no secret that Miggy struggles massively, defensively. However, to take Urshela’s numbers from this last season, and extrapolate them to the same amount of innings that Dujar had (roughly 1100-1200), I truly believe the numbers would’ve been a fair bit closer than everyone cares to admit — not too close, but Urshela wouldn’t be heralded as this defensive guru. Urshela is a quality player but is a below average defender, so using the argument of “him being way better and way more solidified defensively” than Andujar, is an argument and reason that holds no substance. The way I view it is that Urshela is the ‘better of two bad’s’ and that his near-average levels of defense do give him the edge.

With that, there’s no malicious intent in “knocking” Urshela, I just don’t believe that he is as good a defender as he gets credit for. Very similar to Jeter, honestly, in that defensively his numbers aren’t positive, but the public perception is that he’s very good defensively. Having both Urshela and Andujar on the team gives the Yankees a two-headed snake, and with the larger amount of attention on the offensive side of things, Andujar could end up being the go-to guy throughout the season.

Andujar or Urshela- offensively

I believe in Gio, but I am still unsure whether or not he is the long-term answer at third, as I would personally rather hang onto Andujar, simply because Dujar holds more value — if it comes down to having to choose one. The interesting thing for Andujar is if he is to be used as a full-time DH — which is what the Yankees are thinking about doing, similar to the Astros with Yordan Alvarez — that he would re-up some of the lost value from the 2019 season, but that’d be putting a cap on a young up-and-comer’s improvement and development. Andujar’s 130 WRC+ in 2018 was just a tick below Urshela’s 132 in 2019, but having both of those bats in the LU could be massive for the Yankees.

With that, I believe that when it comes down to it, Andujar will likely be the odd man out at the beginning of the season. Having Stanton return and easing him back into everyday reps in left field will allow Andujar to have a handful of AB’s the first few weeks, but until Stanton is fully slotted in at LF, and the DH spot is “available”, I’m not too sure how much of Miguel Andujar us Yankees fans will get to see for the first month or so. The fact that this Yankees team has so much talent in the LU, means that quality players like Dujar, Ford, Tauchman, and even Gardner, will likely see more off-days than they would anywhere else in the league.

I don’t have an issue with the defensive gripes and concerns over Andujar, as they are all warranted reactions. My problem is just that there are so many people who have written off Andujar because of both that and an unlucky injury. I was one of them that doubted his future and overall abilities, until I looked more into it and saw how similar of players both Urshela and Andujar are, and how Dujar’s defense shouldn’t leave him out to dry.

In Urshela’s first full season with NYY in 2019, he posted BB% of 5.3% to pair with a K% of 18.3% en route to finishing with an OPS of .889. In Andujar’s first full season back in ’18, his BB% was 4.1% and his K% was 16.0%, contributing to his OPS of .855. With Urshela, you get a bit more consistency defensively, whereas with Andujar you get more pop and excitement offensively. Both players are very similar to one another in their styles and approaches when they step up to the plate, and both — in their first full season’s with NYY — posted a GB/FB rate of 1.25. With the juiced balls being a thing of the past, there’s definitely reason to believe that Gio’s power numbers come down, and he is a consistent .800 OPS player — which isn’t bad by any means, but Miggy has the edge from an offensive perspective.

Overall comparison & values

The glaring difference between Urshela and Andujar is indeed the atrocious defensive numbers that Miggy puts up, but from a value perspective, they’re both very similar. According to Fangraphs’ individual value, Urshela put together a Positional Value of 1.3 (19.4 Batting Value, and a -2.4 Fielding Value in part). Miguel Andujar, in 2018, put up a PV of 0.5 (21.4 Batting Value, and a -16.0 Fielding Value in part). What that says to me is that despite such a horrendously awful Fielding Value, Miguel Andujar still holds massive value and possesses tons of talent. Though Andujar’s value is almost entirely from his offense, even if he were to bring that FV down to say -9.0, that would get him along with the same level of total value as Urshela. Essentially, Andujar can be one of the worst third basemen across all of baseball when in the field, but could still put together a 3 WAR season, roughly, which would be very solid production. As for Urshela, I believe he is around the same in terms of value, at right around 3 WAR. With that, if he is to see a decrease in his power peripherals, I think he may be around 2.0 WAR. Andujar’s upside and ceiling are higher than Urshela’s, which is why it is vital to hang onto him long-term. The ideas that Andujar may even move around the diamond, to a corner OF spot, or first base, also can lead to an increase in value as well.

I think the stigma that “Andujar has to fight his way back” is one that should be done away with entirely. Miguel Andujar is an incredible player, and do we forget that he beat out Gleyber in ROY votes back in 2018 — only finishing second behind Ohtani? Not to mention he won AAA player of the year prior, and last season was expected to be just better than Eduardo Escobar levels of offensive production, the fact he’s being counted out is abhorrently undeserved. The kid is a bonafide stud with a bat in his hands, and if his defense is to see even a slight tick from “absolute dumpster fire” to “dumpster fire that’s just been extinguished”, that would bump him up massively in value and overall performance. Both Andujar and Urshela are fantastic players and they excel in different areas and are naturally not as good in others. I expect both to be used exponentially this upcoming season, as that would be most beneficial for them and the team itself.

I’m a fan of Mike Ford and Mike Tauchman, as I think they both deserve reps and time on the Major League roster, but I do not think either of them should cut into Dujar or Urshela’s AB’s — all that much, at least. If Andujar doesn’t see 500 PA’s this year, barring injury or other issues that may arise and cause him to miss time, the Yankees should be trying to offload him. If the front office already has the idea that Andujar isn’t going to be getting AB’s and days in the field, then don’t waste his talent on the bench & instead look to ship him for a contributing player.

 

What’s Motivating The New York Knicks to Play Veterans Instead of Youth?

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks have been featuring their veterans instead of their younger players and the fan base wants to know why. The entire Knick fan base is wondering what’s motivating interim coach Mike Miller to play veterans instead of fully going with the youth movement. The question is still unanswered, however, fans can still wonder if this sort of thing will continue after the trade deadline on February 6th, 2020.

Some fans believe management has been trying to save their jobs by playing the veterans in hopes of getting wins for job security. Others feel the Knicks are showcasing the veterans before the trade deadline. There are also a few others who believe it’s just total chaos and organizational malfunction.

All in all, there is a reason for everything. What makes sense to one doesn’t necessarily mean it will make sense to others. The New York Knicks management including interim coach Mike Miller seems like they believe in their starting lineup. Chemistry seems to be a priority for some wins along with showcasing for potential trades that could lead to talent acquisition. Scott Perry definitely has a tendency of finding underperforming talent, or one who lacked opportunity on a stacked bench on another team. Therefore, nothing can really be said until the trade deadline. Nothing is obvious at this point in time when it comes to what direction the New York Knicks are headed. Time will tell and after the deadline will be a telling moment for the Knicks on the trade market and their player rotations during a live NBA game. Steve Mills and Scott Perry will be making some huge decisions with the roster in the near future.

New York Yankees: The baseball life of newly elected HOF Derek Jeter

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

“Baseball is a lot about attitude — not getting too up or down, enjoy each game, then forget it and go on. Review the game, learn from your mistakes, but don’t let it burden you. A lot of things matter more than talent: work, education, never being satisfied. These intangibles have made Derek what he is.”…Charles Jeter, 2002. I start with this quote to demonstrate the influence that Derek’s father and mother had on shaping the man we call Mr. November.

Derek Sanderson Jeter was born in Pequannock Township, New Jersey, on June 26, 1974, to a mixed-race couple, Dorothy Connors Jeter, an accountant, and Sanderson Charles Jeter, a substance-abuse counselor. His father had played shortstop at Fisk University in Tennessee. When Derek was a child, his parents made him sign a contract each year that defined acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior. Charles Jeter outlined the terms of the agreement: The contract outlined study hours, and participation in school activities. The Jeter’s moved from New Jersey to Kalamazoo, Michigan, when Derek was four years old. Derek and his sister lived in Kalamazoo with their parents during the school year and spent their summers with their maternal grandparents in New Jersey. It was during these summers that Jeter became a fan of the Yankees.
Derek starred at Kalamazoo Central High School and, in his junior season, batted .557 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs. When not on the diamond, he participated in cross-country and basketball. As he began his final year of high-school play, Jeter, who had been named a “Super-25 Player” by USA Today, was attracting scouts from most major-league teams. As April turned into May, he was batting .643 and was the top prospect in the country. In the 1991 draft, the Yankees had the sixth pick. It was a no-brainer. On the recommendation of scout Dick Groch, the Yankees offered Jeter $800,000 to sign and take a road that would see him playing at Yankee Stadium during the 1995 season.

Jeter, after signing on June 28, 1992, did not get off to the best of starts in the minor leagues. He began with the Yankees’ entering the Gulf Coast League. Errors in the field and frustrations at the plate led him to question whether he had made the right decision in forgoing the scholarship offered at the University of Michigan. Jeter finally got to play on July 2, 1992. He was hitless in his first 14 at-bats. As the summer wore on, Jeter, under the tutelage of manager Gary Denbo began to find his stroke at the plate and finished with a .202 batting average. The Yankees sent Jeter to Greensboro, where he would play eleven games and meet fellow teammates, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte.  In 1993 he would play the full year with Greensboro; he would also meet another teammate Mariano Rivera. That year Derek would bat .295, and a team-best 11 triples punctuated his 30 extra-base hits. Jeter’s fielding was not on par with this hitting; he had 56 errors. 1994 was a whirlwind. He would start at Tampa and go on to AA Albany, and then to triple-A Columbus. For the year, he would bat .344 with 43 extra-base hits and 50 stolen bases. By the time the dust had settled, Jeter was named minor-league player of the year. In 1995 injuries to the shortstop and second baseman would cause the Yankee to call up Jeter to the Stadium. He played in his first game on May 29, 1995, and went 0-4. After the injured players returned, Jeter would be sent back to Columbus. With the Clippers, he posted a .317 batting average with 38 extra-base hits in 123 games. He rejoined the Yankees for the stretch run but played in only two games, getting a double in his only at-bat. He was not named to the postseason roster.

The 1996 season upon the urging of “Stick” Michael Yankee owner George Steinbrenner would start Jeter at short where he would play for the next seventeen years on his way to Cooperstown.   He would be the first rookie to do so since Tom Tresh debuted in 1962. At the beginning of the year, the Yankees would have a new manager in Joe Torre, Torre would take the number 6, and with only one other single-digit number left, Derek would select the number 2.  During June, Derek Jeter would play his first game at Tiger’s Stadium.  It would be the first time his parents would get to see him play in the majors.  It certainly wouldn’t be the last, as his parents were often in the stands at Yankee Stadium during many of the critical moments in his illustrious career.   It would be an excellent year for Derek as in 1996; he would be the American League Rookie of the year.  The Yankees would win the World Series that year for the first time in eighteen years.  They did it with the help of Jeter as he drove in the winning run in the sixth and deciding game of the series against the Atlanta Braves.  It would be one of the first times that Jeter would tend to always be clutch at crucial times for the Yankees as well as signature moments in his career.  At the beginning of the year, the Yankees would have a new manager in Joe Torre.

In 1997 Jeter would become the regular leadoff hitter for the Yankees.  He would hit .291 on the year and would hit two home runs in the ALCS, but the Yankees would lose to the Cleveland Indians.  1998 would see the Yankees return to the World Series in a year that the team would win a record 114 games.  Although Jeter batted .324 during the season, he would not play well in the ALDS or the ALCS.  Luckily for the Yankees, they didn’t need him as they advanced to the Fall Classic. Jeter would not disappoint in the World Series against the San Diego Padres.  He would bat .353 as the Yankees swept the Padres in four games to win the series.  Before the 99 season, Jeter would be first eligible for salary arbitrations and would receive a $5MM contract, his first big money in baseball.  In the year, Derek would have a career-high 24 home runs.   The Yankees again would reach the postseason.  Jeter in the ALDS would bat .455, in the ALCS .350 and .353 in the World Series against the Atlanta Braves.  The Yankees would win the World Series, Jeter’s third in his young career.

With Jeter becoming the Yankees star player after the 99 season the Yankees wanted to lock him up with a 118MM dollar seven-year deal, but that fell through, and he agreed to a $10MM one year contract.  In 2000 Jeter would be the first Yankee ever to win the All-Star MVP  Award.  During the season, he would bat a team-best .339.  The 2000 season would see the Yankees and the Mets in the famous Subway World Series between the two New York teams.  Jeter would hit .409 in the series and hit his first home run on the first pitch he saw in game 4.  In game 5, he would get his 14th consecutive hit in 14 World Series games.  The hit was a longball that led the Yankees to their third World Series in four years.  Jeter’s greatness would lead him to be the only player to win the All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP Awards in the same season. After his excellent performance, the Yankees were not going to lose it’s greatest player.  They offered Jeter a contract extension for $189MM for ten years, making Jeter the second-highest-paid athlete in any sport at the time.

2001 would see one of Jeter’s signature moments.  In a game against the Athletics during the 2001 ALDS, Jeter would make one of the most iconic defensive assists ever in baseball.  On a ball caught by Shane Spencer in the outfield, Spencer would make an errant throw that would miss the cutoff man. Jason Giambi was racing past third on his way home.  Jeter would race across the field to the first baseline, grab the rolling ball, and underhand it to catcher Jorge Posada and Posada would tag out Giambi as he reached home plate.  It would later be called the famous “Jeter Flip” and be one of the ten best defensive plays in the game.  2001 was also the year of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.  The postseason would be delayed and would go beyond a reasonable timeframe.  The Yankees would face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the World Series.  By the time game four came about, it would be the first game played during November.  After an injury, Jeter would not perform well in the series, and the Yankees would lose to the D-Backs in seven games.  When Jeter hit a home run in that game 4 to win the game, the words “Mister November” would flash across the scoreboard.

Another iconic moment in Jeter’s career happened during a July game against the Red Sox at the Stadium.  It was the top of the twelveth inning, and Trot Nixon would hit a pop fly down the third baseline.  Jeter would jet from his position at short and run full force and make the overhand catch while diving over the rail and into the stands.  With the fans in shock as well as ough, he suffered a facial laceration as Alex Rodriguez immediately called for medical assistance.   After police, fans, and players pulled him out of the stands he was, he was stunned and helped off the field bleeding by medical staff.  No one looked more concerned than his parents, who were in the stands. The Yankees eventually won the game in the thirteen innings.

In 2006 Jeter would get his 2,000th hit.  2006 would also see him win the Hank Aaron Award for superior offensive performance.  He earned his third consecutive Gold Gold for his defense at short. After the 2007 season, the Yankees could not agree on a contract with Joe Torre, and Joe Girardi would take over as the new Yankee skipper.  On July 8, 2008, he would get his 200th home run.  On September 14th Jeter would tie Lou Gehrig for the most hits at Yankee Stadium with a hit off Tampa Bay’s David Price.  The Yankees would not reach the World Series in 2008, and after the last game in the old Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter would step up to a mic and make a Lou Gehrig type speech thanking the Yankee fans for their support of the team.  Yankee fans would call it the moment of the year.

2009 would see the Yankees in a sparkling new Yankee Stadium that tried to create the feeling of the old Stadium but with greatly enhanced amenities. It would be Joe Girardi’s second year as manager, and the Yankees would again be in the World Series after not winning the Championship in the past nine years.  Jeter would start in the 2009 All-Star game at short.  He would be named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated after he batted .407 (including 3-for-5 with a double in Game Six) in the World Series, as the Yankees defeated Philadelphia in six games for their 27th championship.

In 2010 Derek would become the all-time Yankee hit leader when he passed Lou Gehrig’s 2,722 hit record.  On July 9, 2011, he would be two runs short of his chase to 3,000 hits.  He would be playing against the Tampa Bay Rays.  He would get his second hit of the game to reach the magical 3,000 mark and tie the game up. He would end up with the win, and 3,003 hits going 5 for 5 with adoring fans and his parents cheering him on.  In 2012 he would bat a team-leading .316 and would lead the American League with 216 hits.   In 2012 Jeter would reach his 17th postseason with the Yankees.  In the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers and during the 12th inning at the Stadium, Jhonny Peralta would hit a grounder to the left side, and Jeter would dive for it and remain motionless.  It turned out that he had broken his ankle, which would be a season-ending injury.  In 2013 still rehabbing from the broken ankle, he would only see action in seventeen games.  After the season was over, he would announce that he would retire from baseball after the 2014 season.

The 2014 season would be a goodbye season for Jeter.  At most all away parks, he would be honored in one way or the other.  He filled stadiums all over the country as fans of all teams wanted to get one last look at one the best baseball players ever to play the game.  Jeter had had so many iconic moments in this career, and he wasn’t done quite yet.  On September 25, 2014, Jeter would play his last game at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles.  The game would be tied in the ninth at 5-5 with a runner on second.  Jeter would step toward the plate, and the voice of God, Bob Shepard in a prerecorded  announcement, would state, “Now Batting for the Yankees, Number Two: Derek Jeter, Number Two.”  The Yankee faithful, including his parents in the stands, would rise to their feet to see the last ever at-bat at Yankee Stadium of their beloved Derek Jeter. As if it had been choreographed, Jeter would hit a walk-off single to win the game.  The Yankees players would rush to first base to congratulate their long-time Captian.  It was a fitting end for Yankee fans.  Curiously he got the hit off of Oriole pitcher Evan

In Derek Jeter’s 20-year career, all spent with the Yankees he would end his career hitting .310 with 3,465 hits while hitting 260 home runs and driving in 1,311 runs.  He would be an All-Star in 14 of those seasons, an MVP candidate 12 times, a Silver Slugger five times, and a Gold Glove Award winner during five of his seasons.  He would also win the Babe Ruth Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, the Hank Aaron Award, the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, and, in 2014, the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award.  All of these awards on his way to being a sure bet to make the Hall of Fame.  On January 21, 2020, in his first year of eligibility, Derek Jeter would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, one vote short of unanimously.

After Jeter retired, he would become a part-owner of the Florida Marlin baseball club in Miami.  During his entire baseball career, Jeter would be known as the face of the Yankees.  He would handle himself on and off the field with grace and confidence.  He would freely speak to the media with a calmness no matter the situation.  He was such an icon to young ballplayers that they would request his number 2.  Famously, future Yankee Troy Tulowitzki when a young Colorado Rockie would select number 2 as Jeter was his favorite player, and he wanted to emulate him both on the field and off.   Yankee fans will always remember him as their Captian.  Thank you, Derek Jeter, for playing the game the way it should be played and providing us with 20 years of great plays and memories.  Derek Jeter would be the last of the “core four” of Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada to leave the game of baseball.

EmpireSportsMedia.com columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

New York Giants’ legends and player react to Eli Manning’s retirement

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz

The retirement of Eli Manning is no surprise for New York Giants fans, but rather an emotional moment that conjures up memories dating back to 2004. When Manning was initially drafted by the San Diego Chargers but forced his way to the Giants, most thought he was a stuck up person trying to implement his privilege in the NFL. However, that was not the case.

Eli would go on to be one of the most iconic players in Giants history, winning two Super Bowls and returning his good fortune to the public in terms of charity and community work. Manning and his wife Abby have made a difference in people’s lives across the years; whether they were fans, sick children, or anybody in need, they’ve always pushed to lend a helping hand.

Here are what New York Giants legends and players had to say about Manning’s retirement:

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Thank you E, for everything. #HOF

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Many more showed their appreciation for his services, and Giants ownership also offered their gratitude:

“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer. “Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history. He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability. It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us. We are beyond grateful for his contributions to our organization and look forward to celebrating his induction into the Giants Ring of Honor in the near future.”

“We are proud to have called Eli Manning our quarterback for so many years,” said Steve Tisch, Giants chairman and executive vice president. “Eli was driven to always do what was best for the team. Eli leaves a timeless legacy with two Super Bowl titles on the field and his philanthropic work off the field, which has inspired and impacted so many people. We are sincerely thankful for everything Eli has given our team and community. He will always be a Giant among Giants.”