As usual, Jeter does it all for Yankees
The Associated Press [ from 2001 ALDS ]
NEW YORK (AP) -- Derek Jeter beat the Oakland A's every way he could.
With his guile and athleticism in the field and his steady bat at the plate, Jeter was the biggest reason why the New York Yankees rallied from two games down to win three straight games against Oakland to advance the ALCS.
Jeter contributed two more hits Monday night -- breaking Pete Rose's record for most career postseason hits -- drove in a run and made a circus catch as the Yankees beat the A's 5-3.
"I guess that's the reason he's wearing so many rings. That kid's as good as they come," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "Whenever they need a big play, he's there to make it. Whenever they need a big hit, he gets it."
Jeter said he never doubted that the Yankees would win the best-of-five series after dropping the first two games at home, even though no team had ever accomplished that feat.
Then again, why should he? Jeter has known nothing else but winning in the postseason during his career.
"We weren't really focused on making history," Jeter said. "When we were down, we just focused on winning one game at a time. I think sometimes when teams get down they try to win two games in one night. I think a lot of times people look at the big picture."
The Yankees have won four World Series in Jeter's six seasons and are seven wins away from giving him a fifth title. He has only lost one series in his postseason career.
Other shortstops might put up flashier numbers, but no one wins as consistently as Jeter.
"From 1996, when I first met the young man, he's had that look in his eye," manager Joe Torre said. "It's a look that you don't teach. ... He's a true leader at a very early age."
Jeter went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly in Game 5, raising his average for the series to .444. His 87 postseason hits are one more than the record previously held by Hit King Pete Rose.
He also shined in the field again. With a runner on first in the eighth, he dived headlong into the photographer's box behind third base to catch Terrence Long's foul pop. The runner advanced, but was stranded, and after the inning Jeter bandaged his elbow cut.
"I thought it was going to be more painful than it was," Jeter said. "As I was falling down I was waiting for it to hurt. It was like I was waiting to hit something, but I fell flat on my back."
But the biggest play Jeter made came in Game 3 and turned the whole series around.
With the Yankees holding on to a precarious 1-0 lead in the seventh inning and Jeremy Giambi on first, Long lined a double down the right-field line.
While the slow-footed Giambi ran toward home, Shane Spencer overthrew two cutoff men. Out of nowhere came Jeter, who raced across the diamond, grabbed the ball halfway up the first-base line and made a sidearm flip from foul territory to Posada, who scraped the back of Giambi's leg with a tag.
Jeter said the play was routine, but it was anything but.
"One of the biggest plays was Jeter's hustle," Jason Giambi said. "If he was standing around like every other shortstop in the world, it's a tie game."
That preserved the lead and started the comeback.
M.V.P. Jeter Says This Title Is Most Gratifying
The New York Times
By DAVE ANDERSON
With a home run in each of the last two games and a .409 batting average, Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter was named the most valuable player of the Subway Series last night, but he deferred the honor.
"You could've picked a name out of the hat; we have 25 M.V.P.'s," he said. "First game, Vizcaino. What O'Neill's done, our pitching staff, our bullpen, Luis Sojo. You don't rely on one guy."
His cap on backward, Jeter, 26, was wearing a gray World Series champions sweatshirt that was wet with Champagne spray, but he entered the interview area carrying a bottle of water.
"This is by far the best team we've played," he said, meaning the Mets as a World Series opponent. "All the games could've gone either way. Every year is a different story, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't more gratifying. Oakland was the hottest team when we played 'em, Seattle was tough, and the Mets were the best team I've seen in five years."
In his five seasons, Jeter has earned four World Series rings, including one in each of the last three years.
For the Subway Series, he had 9 hits in 22 at-bats, including two doubles, a triple and two homers. His first-pitch homer off Bobby J. Jones set the tone for the Yankees' 3-2 victory in Game 4 and his one-out homer off Al Leiter created a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning of last night's 4-2 victory.
The homers supplied his two runs batted in for the Series and sparked his .864 slugging average. He also walked three times. Jeter's 19 total bases set a five-game Series record. He tied five-game records with his nine hits and six runs scored.
Asked if this Series victory was a last hurrah for this Yankee team's core group, he said: "No one is focused on next year. We're going to enjoy this before we start thinking about next year." And when he was asked what his reaction would be if Joe Torre were to retire as manager, he smiled.
"If he retires, I'm going to retire," Jeter said. "He continues to push the right buttons. He's got a magic wand. You can't say enough about him as a manager. He's a player's manager. He lets you play. He doesn't get on you unless you make mental mistakes. He has a lot of confidence in everybody."
Same old Derek
Any time of year, getting big hits old hat for Jeter
By Matthew Leach
NEW YORK -- Athletes will often tell you that what they want most is to be consistent. However, consistency is only a virtue if you're consistently good. Or, like Derek Jeter, consistently great. Derek Jeter can pound the ball whenever manager Joe Torre puts him in the lineup.
Regular season or playoffs, Jeter hits and hits and hits. Leading off or batting second, he gets on base and hits for power. He doesn't step it up in the World Series; he hits just like he always does, which is more than enough.
In Game 4 of the World Series, Jeter got the rare assignment to lead off. Usual leadoff man Chuck Knoblauch had the night off, and Luis Sojo is not exactly an on-base machine, so the Yanks' usual No. 2 man got the call.
It had been a while, so you can forgive him if he went about things slightly unconventionally. Then again, it worked. Jeter came up first-pitch swinging against Bobby J. Jones, and cracked a home run into the left-field bleachers.
"Everyone seems to want to ask me if I change my approach," Jeter said of leading off. "But Mr. Torre tells me to have the same approach. When you play in these types of games when runs can be hard to come by, you want to score early. I got a good pitch to hit and I hit it well and fortunately it carried out."
JETER HAS ALWAYS BEEN an aggressive hitter, so his strategy didn't surprise old friend Alex Rodriguez -- who was at Shea to watch the game.
"When Derek steps into the box, that's what makes him so dangerous," Rodriguez said. "You definitely don't want to get him on base via the walk because he has the great hitters behind him. But he's so aggressive. It's a little bit of a catch-22. You have to be careful. I knew he would swing at the first pitch."
Two innings later, Jeter led off again. Again he found a ball to hit hard, rocketing a triple to right-center on a 2-0 pitch. Luis Sojo's grounder to second scored the Yankees shortstop, giving the defending champs their third and final run, and eventually their margin of victory in a 3-2 triumph.
"They say the pitcher's best friend is a double play, but I say the pitcher's best friend is a couple early runs," starting pitcher Denny Neagle said. "It's always nice to get a couple early runs. You're able to go out there, relax a little bit, breathe a little easier knowing you've got something to work with. I was glad to see our guys jump on them a little bit."
THE HOME RUN WAS THE FIRST of Jeter's World Series career, as was the triple. But overall, his performance in the postseason has been remarkably similar to his regular-season output.
In his five-plus Major League seasons, Jeter has hit .322. In the playoffs, it's .325. He slugs .468 in the regular season. In the playoffs, .471. You get the idea. He's steady and reliable, if not often spectacular.
"He makes things happen," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "The kid has only been around five years, but he's got all the qualities of somebody who takes charge and leads by example as opposed to telling everybody that he's the leader of this club."
He's sort of the opposite of many of the Yankees' players, who seem to come alive in the playoffs. And perhaps that's his primary value. Torre knows he can make out his lineup card every day, and wherever Jeter hits, well, Jeter will hit.
YankeesXtreme Chat Transcript: Derek Jeter
On August 3rd, 2000, YankeesXtreme.com chatted with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. It was a lot of fun listening to Derek answer his fans questions!
On to the Derek Jeter chat!
chriscary asks: "Many fans say that you are the Mantle or DiMaggio of this generation. How do you feel about this and your importance to this generation of Yankees fans?"
Derek Jeter answers: Well, I think that's a huge compliment, but it's something I don't really think much about. That's judged when your career is over, and you're talking about people that are Yankee legends, so I think that's a little unfair to them.
nettlesfan asks: "Are you and Alex Rodriguez such good friends that it might affect his decision-making process on where to sign in the off-season?"
Derek Jeter answers: No, not at all. It's a situation where he has to make a decision on what he feels is best for his future. We're going to be friends regardless of where he plays. That has no bearing on his decision.
jeff asks: "How does it feel to have your name thrown around as the next possible Yankee Captain?"
Derek Jeter answers: That's something I don't think about. We have a lot of extra players on our team, and at this point, Mr. Torre is our leader. He's the guy everyone looks up to.
antiadsj2 asks: "What do you like to do to unwind after a game?"
Derek Jeter answers: Eat. I'm a pig, so that's all I do is eat.
paisan asks: "Since you are an idol of many teens across the US, have you thought about expanding your foundation into other major cities?"
Derek Jeter answers: Well, right now my foundation is in Kalamazoo, west Michigan where I grew up, and in NYC because that's where I work. We're thinking about expanding to Tampa because that's where I live in the off-season.
teacher26 asks: "Hey Derek! First of all let me say thanks for chatting with us today. I think you are a terrific player and I am a big fan of yours and the Yankee team. I am a teacher and I really just wanted to thank you for all the work you do with children. My main question is what made you decide to want to work with children and start your charity foundations?"
Derek Jeter answers: I was a big Dave Winfield fan. I thought it was cool a major leaguer did a lot for kids, so I decided that if and when I made the majors, I wanted to do the same thing. Kids are the future, and through my foundation, if I can help out at least one kid, it's worth it.
ldilullo asks: "Derek, though you are having a fine season, are you disappointed with your low homer total?"
Derek Jeter answers: No, not at all. When you hit 2nd in the lineup, home runs are not a priority. My job is to move runners and to score runs. Home runs is not really a priority hitting 2nd. Home runs get highlights, but that doesn't necessarily win games.
luvujeter2 asks: "How does it feel to play in New York?"
Derek Jeter answers: I love NY. Obviously, this is all I know, but if you win, and you're in New York, especially for the Yankees, there's no better place.
jm2231 asks: "Is it true that you purchased a home near Tino?"
Derek Jeter answers: In the same city, but about 30 minutes away.
stacey asks: "Who do you feel is the number one Yankee of all time?"
Derek Jeter answers: That's a tough question. I don't think you can narrow it down to one. There's Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, I'm a huge Rizzuto fan, but I don't necessarily know if you can narrow it down to just one.
vmail asks: "What do you think about the fact that some players and coaches still use chewing tobacco and yet they are asking fans to donate money to fund cancer research. ".
Derek Jeter answers: I think it's unfortunate. I think it's a nasty habit. I've never used it. It's bad for you, but it's not the most appealing sight either.
mandyjeter2 asks: "Hey Mr. Jeter! How did it feel being awarded MVP of the All Star Game and also to be the first Yankee?"
Derek Jeter answers: That's something I wasn't aware of maybe until after they told me. You look at all the greats who have played for this organization, and it's not something you would have expected. It feels great. You're happy to be in an all star game, you want to do well. But it's not something I've anticipated or thought about.
murphys asks: "Derek, you've been a part of a lot of Yankee history, already in your career, what is the highlight?"
Derek Jeter answers: I'd have to say winning the championships. That's why you play the game. Personal accolades are great, but you leave your place in history by playing on winning teams.
ren721 asks: "What is the funniest thing that has happened to you while playing baseball?"
Derek Jeter answers: Ren721, I'm always laughing. I had a good time laughing at O'Neill the other night, throwing the ball in from right field.
kim221 asks: "Has anyone come up with a good nickname for Neagle yet?"
Derek Jeter answers: Kim221, not yet, I haven't heard of one. Shouldn't take long though because he's a unique guy.
djbabe asks: "Do you have any superstitions?"
Derek Jeter answers: djbabe, I wouldn't say superstitions, I'd say it's more of a routine I go through to get ready for the game. Drills, certain baseball things I need to do to prepare.
kari asks: "Where do you think you will be in the next 5 years?"
Derek Jeter answers: Kari, hopefully right here answering some more questions.
antmanjr91 asks: "I'm 9 years old and your my favorite player and I want to be a professional player one day. Do you have any tips for me?"
Derek Jeter answers: Do well in school. That's first and foremost because there's no guarantee that anyone can make it to the major leagues, and you need something to fall back on.
ronnee asks: "Besides any of your immediate family members, who was the most influential person while you were growing up?"
Derek Jeter answers: Ronnee, I looked up to a lot of my coaches. I constantly went to them for advice, but I also looked up to a lot of my peers, which I felt were doing positive things and trying to reach their own goals.
denise asks: "Hey Derek, so tell me, who is the hardest pitcher you have ever faced?"
Derek Jeter answers: Denise, Hmm... I'd say Scott Erickson gives me a lot of problems. He throws a hard sinker and it's tough on right-handers.
mandi2ny asks: "Hi Mr. Jeter. I was just curious, if you couldn't play baseball what career would you choose?"
Derek Jeter answers: Probably something business related. It'd probably have to deal with sports in some capacity.
ladyleo asks: "Where do you like to go to get away from baseball?"
Derek Jeter answers: Ladyleo, when the season's over, I go to Florida. NY is fast paced, so that gives me time to relax and start preparing for next season.
balotin asks: "Do you follow any of the minor league teams?"
Derek Jeter answers: I work out in the off season with a lot of the minor league players in our organization, so I follow their teams and see how they're doing.
clint1 asks: "How can fans get involved with the Turn 2 Foundation?"
Derek Jeter answers: Clint1, call the turn2 office in Kalamazoo if you're seriously interested.
chrissy2dj asks: "Would you ever like to coach someday?"
Derek Jeter answers: I'd like to coach kids. I don't know if I'd want to, when I'm done playing, deal with the travel at this level, but I'd like to hopefully work with my kids one day.
jetersgrl asks: "Derek, what do think the chances of the Yankees winning the championship this season??"
Derek Jeter answers: I think the best teams make it to the post season, but the hottest team at the time wins the championship, so hopefully we can get hot at the end of September.
jrf2007 asks: "Are you interested in any other sports besides baseball?"
Derek Jeter answers: I'm a big basketball fan, especially college basketball. I follow the Knicks.
hnt asks: "How does it feel to play on a team with a legend like Zimmer as a mentor?"
Derek Jeter answers: Hnt, It's great. He has so many stories to tell, and so much advice. He's been in the game 50 years, and there isn't any situation or scenario he hasn't seen, so he's a good source of knowledge.
chrissy2dj asks: "Who do you turn to for advice?"
Derek Jeter answers: My parents. I always know that they'll be honest with me and not tell me what I want to hear.
fastballpitcher asks: "Who is your 2nd favorite shortstop ".
Derek Jeter answers: My dad.
teacher26 asks: "What has been the scariest moment for you as a major league ball player?"
Derek Jeter answers: Teacher, I could say anytime you get hit with a pitch on a bone is pretty scary because you don't know if it's going to be broken.
bebe729 asks: "How long have you and Alex Rodriguez been friends for?"
Derek Jeter answers: Bebe729, since 1993.
rock1322 asks: ""Derek, what is your favorite part of being a Yankee"".
Derek Jeter answers: Rock, I'd have to say all the tradition that goes along with it. The accessibility of all the old time players that come in and out of the clubhouse all the time.
ccfox asks: "Is higher education in your future plans".
Derek Jeter answers: ccfox, yes, when I signed, it's in my contract that the Yankees have to pay for me to go to school when and where I want to. It may take 50 years, but eventually I'll finish.
nyprincess asks: "What baseball record would you most like to beat?"
Derek Jeter answers: Nyprincess, Yogi's record of 10 championships.
jjacobs asks: "Did you come up with rubbing Zimmer's head?"
Derek Jeter answers: jj, yes, I started doing it my first year. Now I do it for good luck.
ldilullo asks: "Derek, what's it like on Old Timer's Day when you share the dugout with so many Yankee Greats?"
Derek Jeter answers: It's a great opportunity. Most of the players get here early, so you get a chance to talk to them, and get out there and watch the game. It's something that everyone looks forward to.
karenannt asks: "Are there any players that you really think of as rivals?"
Derek Jeter answers: I don't know about players, I'd say it's more team related. Like Boston and the Mets.
rachelnjeter asks: "What is your schedule for the day when you have a 7:00pm home game?"
Derek Jeter answers: Rachel, I wake up, eat breakfast, work out, take a nap, then go eat lunch and head to the stadium about 3pm.
snowysnys2much asks: "Derek how do you stay so humble, when sooo many people, men, women, teens and kids adore you?"
Derek Jeter answers: Baseball's a very humbling sport. It's a game of failure, and you realize you can be on the top one minute and on the bottom next. Growing up, I wasn't a big fan of people who talk about themselves.
chrissy2dj asks: "Derek, If you could offer any of us here, any tips of advice, or words of wisdom, what would you tell us?"
Derek Jeter answers: I'd say that hold on to your dreams. I had a dream when I was young and everyone tried to discourage me. If I listened to those people, I wouldn't be here. Anything is possible if you're willing to work hard enough for it.
neil1 asks: "what do you eat for breakfast?"
Derek Jeter answers: Neil, I didn't eat breakfast today. I got up too late. Derek Jeter answers: Thanks for all the questions. I wish I had the opportunity to answer all of them. I have to go stretch for the game now. That's what happens when you get old.
Thanks for chatting with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. We hope you enjoyed yourself, and encourage you to come back for more YankeesXtreme chats with some of the most exciting Yankee figures, past and present. Make sure to check out the Turn 2 Foundation, to see what you can do to help, and chat with relief pitcher Jeff Nelson Saturday afternoon at 12:30 on YankeesXtreme.com.
Jeter takes charge
Aggressive style gets him three hits, MVP award
Posted on July 11, 2000
By Jonathan Mayo
ATLANTA -- Derek Jeter was carrying an All-Star 0-fer around his neck and he wanted to get rid of it quickly. With two strikeouts in two previous at-bats, he hadn't even hit a ball in fair territory.
"I wanted to put the ball in play and swing early in the count," Jeter said.
The strategy worked well. Jeter went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs to lead the American League to a 6-2 victory and pick up the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player trophy. Suddenly, Jeter is carrying a gaudy .600 All-Star batting average.
Jeter's perfect day didn't exactly come against slouches on the mound. He doubled off Randy Johnson in the first, singled off Kevin Brown in the third and hit a two-run single off Al Leiter in the fourth.
"I have the same game plan against everyone," admitted Jeter, who also scored a run for the AL. "I'm a free swinger. I think everyone in the American League knows that. Maybe everyone in both leagues knows that."
JETER DIDN'T WASTE MUCH TIME in the first against the Big Unit. He swung at the first pitch and fouled it back. After taking a pitch out of the strike zone, he doubled to left for his first hit.
"Maybe it was a fastball," Jeter said. "I don't know. I was just hacking. I thought about bunting, but Randy's not a good guy to bunt against."
"He's a great hitter," Johnson said during his post-performance press conference. "I mean, what is he? Three-for-three right now? He could be hitting as we speak."
Jeter was already out of the game by that time, but not before he had inflicted some more damage. He acted early again in the third inning against Brown, swinging at the first pitch and lining it up the middle for a single. He eventually came around to tie the score at 1.
Then came the big hit in the fourth. Facing Leiter, Jeter again swung at the first pitch and hit a flare into center that drove in the two go-ahead runs for the AL and more or less cemented the MVP honor.
"It was a cutter," Jeter said of Leiter's bread-and-butter pitch that tails into right-handed batters. "He does it every time. I try to lay off it. I didn't hit it well. I just hit it in a good spot."
THE YANKEES MIGHT BE IN a good spot, despite their early-season struggles. Even though some think they haven't played up to championship form, they're still where they usually are: at the top of the AL East.
"Everyone is talking about how much we're struggling, but we're tied for first," Jeter said defensively. "It's not easy to win games. Maybe we made it look a little easier, but it's not. We're playing a lot better the last couple of weeks and hopefully it will carry over in the second half of the season."
Jeter, who was thrust into a starting role because his buddy Alex Rodriguez sat out with a concussion, certainly hopes that his All-Star performance carries over. But whatever happens, you know he won't keep the bat on the shoulder for very long, no matter who's pitching.
"When you're facing three guys like that, you want to swing early," Jeter said. "If you fall behind in the count, you're in trouble.
"You want to have fun, but you want to do well. The number one priority is to come out here and give the fans a good show."
Prince of the City
by Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated
In 1996 Jeter became the first rookie in 34 years to start at shortstop for the Yankees, won Rookie of the Year honors and hit .361 for the postseason. Last season he finished third in the American League MVP balloting , and the Yankees won their second World Series in three years. This season he's one of the league's most productive players.
Says Milwaukee Brewers manager Phil Garner, "I thought A-Rod was way ahead of Jeter, that he was always going to be a better all-around player. But now Jeter has come on and caught him."
Jeter's increased patience at the plate and his improved power have created a quandary for pitchers. "You can throw him inside as much as you want, and he can still fist the ball off," says Baltimore Orioles veteran reliever Jessie Orosco.
Jeter spent much of the off-season lifting weights and fine-tuning his swing. During a three-game series with the Mariners, Jeter showed off his new muscle. He smacked a three-run homer on Friday night and then, in the first inning of the Yankees' victory Sunday, drove a 1-1 fastball from left-hander Jeff Fassero 430 feet over the fence in left-centerfield.
While most of New York's sports superstars have modeled themselves on fun-loving cocksure Babe Ruth, Jeter springs from the Lou Gehrig branch of the family tree. Shy and protective of his image, Jeter is accessible to fans and the press but keeps a small circle of close friends. He has been embraced by celebrity more than he has embraced it.
"I call him a movie star because he runs the town," says Seattle Mariners shortsop and best friend Alex Rodriguez. "But the thing that impresses me most about him is that he's
so selective -- not just with girls but with people in
Jeter Is On The Rise
by Bob McCullough of THE SPORTING NEWS
The Yankees’ Jeter is perhaps the quintessential example of a future power hitter who has made significant adjustments to vault into the middle tier. After establishing himself as a .300 hitter with a picture-perfect inside-out swing during his first two seasons, Jeter made the jump from 10 to 19 homers last year. This season, he’s making a quantum leap in virtually every offensive category. He’s among the American League leaders in hitting, ranks in the top 15 in RBIs and already has reached the 20-homer plateau.
“I worked on adjusting my swing during the offseason, getting my top hand over and driving the ball,” he says. “I still consider myself a line-drive contact hitter, but sometimes the ball will leave the park. I worked on driving the ball and hitting the gaps, trying to hit more doubles and triples, not necessarily sitting down and saying I want to hit a home run. I’m a fastball hitter, (so it’s a matter of getting extended and getting pitches that are up. A lot of it is experience — learning what pitches to drive, what pitches you can’t, getting ahead in the count and learning what pitches to look for.”
If Jeter is looking for power-hitting role models, he would do well to check the rest of the Yankees’ batting order. Though the Yankees aren’t a power team per se, the lineup is marked by productive hitters who get 20 to 30 homers. Tino Martinez, for instance, is a classic middle-tier power hitter who took a similar approach to the one Jeter is exploring.l
Jeter gets it all and wins the game
BOSTON -- Derek Jeter actually homered over the wall this time.
Derek Jeter knocked in Chuck Knoblauch, left, for the only runs the Yankees would need in the first inning.
Jeter, who needed the help of a 12-year-old fan for his only previous home run in an American League Championship Series, put the Yankees ahead with a two-run shot just eight pitches into the game Monday night, and New York went on to beat the Boston Red Sox 6-1 for their third AL pennant in four seasons.
"Every year is special," Jeter said. "It never gets old. You could write a book about each time."
In 1996, with the Yankees trailing Baltimore 4-3 in their series opener, Jeter hit a fly ball to right that Tony Tarasco settled under -- until 12-year-old Jeff Maier reached over the fence and snatched it away for a game-tying homer. Bernie Williams' 11th-inning home run won it, and the Yankees finished off the Orioles in five games.
"That didn't win the game, Bernie won the game," Jeter said then.
Not that he didn't appreciate Maier's help and umpire Richie Garcia's failure to call fan interference.
"Thank you. Reach over all you want," Jeter said. "It's just something that happens. Sometimes you call it right and sometimes you call it wrong."
There wasn't any controversy this time.
After Chuck Knoblauch's opposite-field single to right on Kent Mercker's fourth pitch of the game, Jeter worked the count to 2-1, then drove the ball slightly to the left of straightaway center, just to the right of the 37-foot-high Green Monster.
The 410-foot drive sailed over the 17-foot wall in center, cutting through a 17 mph northerly wind.
Up until that point, Jeter had 10 hits in 26 at-bats during the playoffs, but just one run batted in. Good for most players, but not for him, especially after a regular season in which he hit .349 with 24 homers and 102 RBI.
But on this night, he was at the forefront of another chapter in the Yankees' century of glory. He's been with them for four seasons, and gone to the World Series in three of them.
"It's a way of life, it seems like, for Derek Jeter since he's been in the league," teammate Roger Clemens said enviously. "I'm just happy to be going again -- it's been 13 years."l
Exclusive interview with Derek Jeter, Shortstop for the New York Yankees
by Mike Jerchower of acclaim.com
Acclaim: Derek, how old were you when you first started playing baseball?
Derek Jeter: As long as I can remember. Maybe five, six. Pony League, Little League...Little League, tee ball...tee ball.
A: Who was an inspiration for you growing up, on a personal level and as well as a sports idol?
DJ: Well, my dad played baseball at Fisk University so when I was younger I wanted to be like him. And than, baseball-wise, besides Zimmer of course, Dave Winfield. I was a big Winfield fan.
A: What are some of your individual goals as a player, aside from the team goals, as coming up for the season?
DJ: Well, I think personal accolades, I mean they're great and everything but, we tend to focus more on the team. Well, I've been spoiled. We won two out of three years, so anytime you go through that all you want to do is win.
A: How do you prepare yourself in the off-season?
DJ: I live down here in Tampa and I work out at the minor league complex with the coaches, strength coaches and we pretty much do everything. There's almost no off-season.
A: Especially when you go into October winning.
A: Talk about your involvement writing the scouting reports for the All-Star Baseball video game.
DJ: Well I tried to be a little biased toward our pitching staff, so I think our team might dominate this game. You know, it was fun. I got to go through and look at the different pitchers, and in my opinion put how they pitch me, so...and everyone knows how to get me out.
A: Okay, give us a little more detail. Who taught you how to play the game, was that someone that came from your family or was that just coaches in the area growing up?
DJ: My dad taught me a lot. He says even now he couldn't hit too good but he says, so he's a better defensive player so he's always out there. My mom, my dad, we all used to go out there. Mom used to throw me Wiffle balls in the back yard, so it was like a family project.
A: What players in the league do you admire for their skills?
DJ: Well, there's a lot of players..., Alex Rodriguez of course, Garciapara...and I'm just looking at shortstops...Ordonez. There's a lot of young players coming up that I think play great and they have a respect for the game, so I think that's good for the fans.
A: You've been asked this question a lot I'm sure in the last week, but what was your initial reaction to the David Wells/Roger Clemens trade?
DJ: I was sort of shocked because I hadn't been reading the papers but I hadn't heard any trade rumors before it happened and it was a last second thing. They went to the field and they told me that they traded for him, so, it was kind of a shock at first.
A: Obviously you've been through this twice, but going back to the first time and even the second time, what's the overall feeling of winning a world championship?
DJ: I don't know if you could sit here and describe it. I think...every kids dream, when they dream of playing baseball is playing in a World Series and I've been spoiled two out of three years, so I don't know if I could sit here and exactly in words and describe it; but I think it's very gratifying- I think even more so last year. My first year things happened so fast and before I knew it we won, and last year was a great thrill for us.
A: Obviously the Yankees have recieved a lot of attention in the off-season. People are expecting them to win. Is it fair to say that anything less than a world championship would be acceptable for the team as a whole?
DJ: I think it's very fair. I think you play 162 games, you play thirty in the spring and you play another fifteen in the post-season. You don't get a ring if you don't win. So our goal is to win the World Series and that's the bottom line. If you don't win than the season is not a success.
A: What kind of music do you listen to and who is your favorite performer or rock band?
DJ: That's funny, uh...
DJ: I like R&B and hip-hop. I don't really have one particular group or artist or anything, it's just the whole hip-hop, R&B...
A: Okay. What advise to have to give to aspiring Little Leaguers and ball players?
DJ: Well, I would say, you don't necessarily have to want to be an athlete. I think whatever you want to do your dream can come true if you work hard because not too many people get a chance to play professional sports but a lot of people tell them they can't. I know when I was growing up everyone said that you can't do it and they laughed at me, but I think if you work hard than anything can happen.
A: Okay. Give us your overall response to having the opportunity to appear in a television commercial for a video game for kids.
DJ: Well, it's fun. I think it's a lot of fun. Hopefully the commercial comes out well. A lot depends on how Zim acts at the end because a lot's riding on him.
A: Zim is going to get the chance to answer some questions here too...
DJ: So, I don't know how much of an actor he is, but we'll see what happens. So it's been a great...it's been a good experience for me.
A: Okay. Obviously from the commercial, All-Star Baseball has helped you prepare for the season coming up. What advise would you give to those kids who are considering adding All-Star Baseball 2000 to their list of games?
DJ: Well I think it'll be a great game. Like I said, I sat down and went through the scouting reports so hopefully I got the reports right. So I think it's going to be as close as to the real thing as you can get.l
Derek Jeter: The Sky's The Limit
by Bob Klapisch
Despite the recent fanfare, the Yankees' All-Star shortstop continues to develop his game.
Step into Derek Jeter's personal time-tunnel - say, the summer of 2002 - and you're likely to find 400-foot home runs screaming over the left field wall at Yankee Stadium. His batting average will be over. 330, and Jeter himself will be thicker, stronger, more dangerously-assembled than anyone could've imagined when he was a 180-pound rookie in 1996.
These are more than just make-believe images: this evolution is taking place today, every day, little by little. In fact, Yankee people believe Jeter will soon become their best all-around athlete - if he's not already - and will eventually earn the title as the American League's most dominant offensive player.
Ask any major league executive. Ask any manager or advance scout. Or simply ask Jeter's teammates, who, without exaggeration, insist we're all witnessing the perfect evolution of a superstar.
"I think Derek's is going to become the best player I've ever been on the same team with," said Paul O'Neill. "It's amazing how much he's improved and how many things he can do as a hitter now, whatever the situation calls for - whether it's a base hit, or moving the runner over or hitting a home run. He's incredible."
That's no small praise from the normally understated O'Neill. To anoint Jeter as the best teammate of his two-decade career, means O'Neill is placing him above Don Mattingly, who, even today, is revered within the Yankee community. But that endorsement is heard everywhere Jeter goes - mostly by opposing pitchers, who've come to realize the Yankee shortstop is hitting with the strength and authority of a 10-year veteran, and a man 20-30 pounds thicker.
Jeter, the superstar? It's hard to argue the point, because, after all, he batted .324 with 19 homers and 84 RBI in 1998, only his third full season in the big leagues. And if first impressions mean anything, Jeter is already pushing the envelope in 1999, soaring beyond .370 past the All-Star break. Of course, it's impossible to say whether Jeter can continue at this clip for the rest of the summer, but he's hardly narrowing his horizons. In fact, the more Jeter's average balloons, the harder he seems to work, and the less he takes for granted. Jeter is a near-fanatical weightlifter now, and is still perfecting a new hitting technique that's allowed him to become a line-drive threat.
One National League scout who regularly follows the Yankees says Jeter's transformation from opposite-field, slap-singles to power-shots into the gaps is, "the biggest turn-around I've seen in a young hitter in a long time. Jeter has much, much more power than you'd think. He fools a lot of opponents that way, especially the ones who think they can still get away pitching him inside."
That's because Jeter now swings "down on the ball," in his words. In layman's terms, the shortstop used to have a flat swing, which rarely generated enough torque for a gap-drive. But even after last summer's dramatic improvement, Jeter still decided he needed to, "use more of my top hand."
In other words, he's now attacking the ball, using a slightly downward trajectory as his bat whips through the strike zone. The result was Jeter would often strike the bottom half of the ball, thus generating backspin, which accounts for the increased number of line drives, not to mention how much farther they travel.
The alteration was so subtle the untrained eye can barely detect it. But baseball people can appreciate that on most days, Jeter now represents the greatest threat in the Yankee lineup - one reason why Joe Torre had no choice but to make him the Bombers' No. 3 hitter.
Ideally, the manager preferred to have Jeter remain in the No. 2 spot, because, in his words, "Derek has so much speed. If a No. 3 guy gets on base and steals second, the other team is probably going to pitch around the clean-up guy, and obviously you don't want that."
But what other choice did Torre really have, as Jeter was on a pace for a 30-home run, 100-RBI season? And with that .370-something average, the manager was suddenly being forced to answer questions about just how high Jeter could really reach.
"Well, I don't know if Derek is really a .370 hitter," Torre said. "If he does hit that, it'll be like my .360 (.363, in 1971 with the Cardinals), which was a career year. I think of Derek in the .310 to .330 range, someone who can hit for average and steal some bases and hit home runs, too."
Presented with his Take That assessment, Jeter nodded, but politely disagreed.
"I'm not even thinking about what my average is or could be, because it's still too early for that," Jeter said recently. "If I tell myself, "I'm a .310 hitter," then that means I'm going to stop pushing once I reach .310. Why stop at .310? Why stop at .330? I never want to be that way. I always want to keep improving."
The question becomes: Just how good is he? Reggie Jackson calls Jeter a "young Ken Griffey." Roger Clemens has noticed, "Derek is getting stronger every year." And O'Neill, furthering his previous endorsement says, "Everyone in this clubhouse respects Derek. He's become one of the leaders on this team."
There's a wide gulf that separates Jeter's standing today and 1996, when he was regarded as a frail, unsure singles hitter. Clemens remembers how, as an opponent, he'd try to work Jeter inside. Fastballs in, a slider or two away, then back to the heat, up and in, since Jeter had a habit of drawing his hands close to his body as he swung, which made it difficult, if not impossible, for him to drive that ball.
But Jeter became obsessed with correcting what he saw as a glaring deficit in his portfolio. He's learned to extend his arms more, get his bat-head through the strike zone faster and more aggressively. And Jeter has also added 15 pounds of muscle, which is why Clemens notes, "he's much, much stronger than you'd think."
It's that versatility that compels Reggie to predict Jeter will soon come to a crossroads in his career. "Another 2-3 years, when his body fully matures, Derek's going to be able to make a choice whether he wants to be a home-run hitter or a batting champ," Reggie said.
"(Ken) Griffey made that choice and decided to hit home runs. But most guys never get that choice. (Mike) Piazza can't. He can only hit home runs and hit .280. But Jeter can."
To this, Jeter just shakes his head and grins, deflecting Jackson's endorsement. "I just don't see it happening the way Reggie says," he insists.
For one, being a home-run machine would mean sacrificing the batting average and on-base percentage expected of a No. 2 hitter, or the high batting average of a No. 3 hitter. And second, Jeter still isn't convinced hitting homers will come all that easily to him. After all, Jeter remembers he was unable to hit his 20th homer last year, after reaching 19 in his 143rd game.
"I tried like crazy, and look where it got me," said Jeter, who conceded that obsession probably cost him the batting title, which went to Bernie Williams at .339. Still, Jeter does serve as proof that hitting homers doesn't require a 250-pound frame, or 20-inch biceps or a daily diet of andro.
"Look at Straw. Look at how skinny he was when he was with the Mets," Jeter said, referring to Darryl Strawberry. "He was like a rake, but the man hit a ton of home runs. That's what I mean, that there's more to it than you think. Look at (Nomar) Garciaparra. Same thing. If it were as easy as just getting bigger or stronger, everyone would do it."
Calm words, mature words. All from a 25-year-old slugger - one who's even managed to improve defensively. It's hard to believe that, only five years ago, Jeter committed 25 errors in one season as a Yankee minor leaguer.
He was promoted briefly in '95 with a conditional reputation - a good athlete who might still be too raw to handle the every day chores at shortstop.
"We were all worried that Derek wasn't going to be able to make the routine plays," said infield coach Willie Randolph. "He's gotten much, much better at that. He makes the plays that he should. What I really like is that I don't have to position him (from the dugout) as much as I used to, which means he's thinking more. That's part of growing up."
That's part of the slow, steady evolution as a Yankee powerbroker. In fact, the business card is almost complete now, and in less than four years: Hitting. Hitting for power. And flying low on the radar screen.
"Just doing my job," Jeter said, smiling but definitely not kidding.l
The American League never has had three young shortstops as good as Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez at the same time. In his third major league season, Jeter challenged for the AL batting title and began to show some home-run power. He was widely regarded as the most valuable player on a team that won 125 games, including 11 in the postseason. He's above average in every phase of the game.
Jeter learned to turn on inside pitches, nearly matching his previous career total with 19 homers. He did so without sacrificing any batting average. He still strikes out too much for a No. 2 hitter,but has become better at laying off high fastballs and sliders that break down and away from him. Jeter takes a lot of pitches to the opposite field with his inside-out swing and isn't afraid to bunt for a hit. He's a potential No. 3 hitter, though he wouldn't be considered for that role until Paul O'Neill retires.
Baserunning & Defense
Jeter's greatest improvement came in the field, where he developed into one of the game's top defensive shortstops, committing only nine errors all season. As he has matured physically, he has gained arm strength and made more consistent throws. Jeter is an excellent baserunner, and the next groundball he doesn't run out at full speed will be the first. He has learned to read pitchers and is determined to become even more aggressive on the basespaths than he was last season, when he stole 30 bases in 36 tries.
Even with Bernie Williams' return to the Yankees, Jeter may be the best all-around player on a team filled with great all-around players. At 24 he has yet to enter his prime and could continue to improve further. He finished third in AL MVP voting last season and should contend for the award annually.l
Unanimously voted AL Rookie of the Year ... Started his season strongly, hitting an Opening Day home run vs. Cleveland ... Was among AL leaders with 148 singles and a .328 lead-off average ... 17-game hitting streak was the longest by a Yankees rookie since Joe Dimaggio's 18-game streak in 1936 ... Hit.361 withh 12 runs in the post-season
After hitting .317 with two HR, 45 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 32 attempts over 123 games for AAA Columbus ... Ranked first in the IL in runs scored(96), third in BA (.317), third in triples (9) and third in hits (154) ... Was promoted on May 29 when Kevin Elster was designated for assignment ... Hit safely in 27-28 games at Columbus, including a 17-game hitting streak (April 16-May 4) ... Returned to Columbus on June 12.l
by Bob Herzog
Glove: Exceptional range in the hole. Arm nearly as strong as Rodriguez. Good hands, footwork on the pivot.
Bat: Improving every season, with career highs in average, home runs and RBIs in '99. Fourth straight season with 100-plus runs and second straight with 200-plus hits. One of best in the game at hitting to opposite field.
Special qualifications: Likely to be named Yankees captain, a rare honor. (Mickey Mantle never held such a title). Unflappable in the clutch, and has been since he was a rookie in 1996. Seems immune to burnout despite white-hot spotlight of on-and-off-field stardom.l