Sep 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) is presented with a bushel of crabs from former Boog Powell prior to a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
I attended the Orioles game Friday night and couldn’t help but notice the mixed reaction among fans in my section when Derek Jeter came up to bat.
Some clapped politely, others sat in silence, still others stood and applauded for at least his first appearance, while some even stood every time the Yankee captain came to the plate. A few booed and chanted “oh-ver-rate-ed.”
Seeing clips on TV, many of the folks in the lower bowl were standing up for at least his first at-bat.
I think everyone, despite their reaction, can appreciate what a great player Jeter was. He is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits and will go down in history as arguably the second or third greatest shortstops of all time with Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Jeter has gashed the Orioles with a .298/.366/.432 slash line with 24 home runs and 136 RBI over 286 games and counting in his career — the most against any team in MLB.
If there’s any opposing fanbase that knows what Derek Jeter is all about, it’s Baltimore.
But even reflecting on what a legend Jeter was, I find myself with mixed feelings about showing my appreciation for him.
For one, shouldn’t it be up to Jeter’s home fans to send him off like a legend? Who else, despite their status or place in baseball history, has received this kind of farewell tour treatment at opposing stadiums?
I’m tired of cheering for a player that isn’t on my team, especially multiple times during a game.
Don’t we remember that this is the guy that hit the famed fan-aided home run that helped eliminate the Orioles in 1997 ALCS? Jeter is still an opponent playing for an arch rival. Just because it’s his last season doesn’t change that.
Second, with regard to every other player, the response they get from fans is so often based on recent performance. With Jeter, we use a different standard. If we were cheering him for this season, the Der-ek Je-ter chants may not ring so loud for his .251 average.
When we cheer for Nelson Cruz, are we reflecting on his last year with Texas in which he was suspended for PED’s, or this year in which he’s led the MLB in home runs for the Orioles?
Jeter is an excellent player. He seems like a likeable guy and is one of the classier competitors, but above all Jeter is a Yankee. Being a Yankee means several things, and many have to do with the pride and tradition of one of the most storied franchises in history. However, being a Yankee usually means you don’t get cheered in Camden Yards.
Count me among those who politely clapped in Jeter’s first at-bat, and then treated him like any other opponent the rest of the night. His 0-for-4 performance was no less enjoyable because it was likely the last time I was going to see Jeter in person.
The Orioles gave Jeter the complimentary gift basket similar to what other teams have been contributing. I made my gesture too. It was more than enough for a Yankee.