Inspiration in the Face of Injury
October 14, 2012 – After a ninth-inning rally in last night’s ALCS Game that was nothing short of incredible, the contest ended in a way that was equally as incredible.
In the ninth inning, which the Yankees entered trailing 4-0, Ichiro hit a two-run blast, and with a two-out long-ball, Raul Ibanez became the first player in major league history to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in the same postseason.
Those theatrics made for what I believe was the most exciting inning of the season, but less than an hour later, the Yankees suffered their worst moment of 2012, or maybe in several years.
In the top of the twelfth inning, Derek Jeter broke his ankle while attempting to field a ground ball. As all Yankees fans are aware of by now, Jeter will not take the field until Spring Training of 2013, and the Yankees are faced with the task of trying to get to the World Series without their captain.
I feel as if the normal emotions following sporting events are happiness or disappointment, but, save for a few times, I can’t remember feeling a sense of sadness because of something that took place on the field.
Last night, I was saddened by the turn of events, but I was also tremendously proud that Derek Jeter is the face of the team I work for.
When the realization that Jeter’s 2012 season — in which he led all of baseball in hits at the age of 38 — had ended with him being carried off the field, I was more sad than I was disappointed. You never want to see someone who has played the game as hard as Jeter (or anyone else in this generation) and who has picked his teammates up countless times suffer an injury that will force him to watch his club play their most important games. To me, that is a sad reality.
But when I heard Joe Girardi’s postgame press conference, I was filled with pride.
More specifically, when Girardi described the scene at the shortstop position, where Jeter was laying on the ground in pain, I was reminded of how fierce of a competitor the shortstop is.
Girardi said that Jeter insisted that he walk off the field on his own power, because he didn’t want the Yankee Stadium crowd to witness him getting carried into the dugout.
That anecdote resonated with me. Even with a broken ankle, Jeter wanted to give Yankees fans his best. There’s not many players who would have been mindful of that while dealing with what must have been excruciating pain. That is one of the many things that makes Jeter not only one of the single greatest baseball players in history, but one of it’s great warriors and most spectacular people. That moment can’t be summed up with statistics, but it was just as awe-inspiring as any game-winning home run.
In the face of some very unlucky fate, the Yankees organization and its fans should be thankful that Derek Jeter is ours. He’s a once in a lifetime player and person.
–Alfred Santasiere III