KYLE BEERY | STAFF REPORTER
The leaves change colors, the air becomes cooler and Halloween decorations start to pop up. It’s October. That means one other thing: It’s time for the Major League Baseball postseason.
Some sports fans may complain that the season is too long or that baseball is boring. But to me, and to countless other sports fans, this is the best time of the year.
Legends are born in this month. You’ve got Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 walk-off home run in 1991 followed by announcer Jack Buck’s famous “We’ll see you tomorrow night!” call. Of course, there’s Kirk Gibson’s limpy home run in 1988, eliciting his fist pump, and Dodgers announcer Vin Scully yelling, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” And we can’t forget David Freese’s extra-innings walk-off home run in 2011 that delivered Buck’s son Joe mimicking his father on the call.
There’s the New York Yankees’ feel-good run into the World Series following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. On the other hand, there’s the Yankees blowing a 3-0 series lead to their rival Boston Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, giving the Sox their own feel-good story en route to their first world series since 1918.
And, of course, you can’t leave out the goats and curses. 1986. Bill Buckner. Boston’s curse. 2003. Steve Bartman. Chicago’s curse.
I can’t write this without mentioning Giants manager Dusty Baker’s 3-year-old son Darren, the team’s bat boy, being swept away from danger by J.T. Snow as David Bell crossed home plate in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series.
There are always the rivalries, too. You’ve got Yankees-Red Sox, the Subway Series and even developing rivalries like the Tigers and Athletics, who have met each other in the ALDS in two straight years. This year lends the opportunity for several different geographical rivalries in the World Series. There could be any number of combinations of the southern California teams (Giants, Dodgers, Angels, A’s – well, not the A’s anymore), a clash in the Beltway between the Orioles and Nationals, and a Midwest showdown between the Cardinals and Royals.
This postseason has all the makings for legends. From the rivalries to Kansas City making its first postseason appearance in almost 29 years, to a Cy Young candidate in Clayton Kershaw, who is liable to go off for a no-hitter. Or we could even see the first October heroics out of youngsters Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
But it’s impossible to tell who will write his own history in this hallowed month. However, one thing is for sure, and that is the fact that Derek Jeter didn’t make the postseason for one final time in his career.
With the Yankees on the outside looking in, and the Jeter farewell tour wrapped up, the Yankee captain has been receiving criticism in recent weeks. Critics ask, “Is he really that good?” Or they say, “No one deserves that amount of attention – he’s greedy for the fame.”
But to counter, there is absolutely no reason the Captain wasn’t worthy of the farewell tour and all the attention. Firstly, he didn’t organize the “tour.” His baseball counterparts did. Secondly, this is a man who was the face of the most recognizable franchise in the game, and he has had plenty of moments worth celebrating, even if his numbers aren’t off the charts.
He’s made himself an October legend with plays like the 2001 flip play against Oakland, and countless RBI bloop-singles and walk-off hits. He even earned the nickname “Mr. November,” with a walk-off home run the first time the World Series ever stretched into the 11th month, due to the aforementioned terrorist attacks.
It’s not fair to argue that Jeter isn’t the most iconic baseball player of our generation. Even though I’m not a Yankees fan, he’s one of my all-time favorites. In fact, I despise the Yankees, but I always root for Jeter. How can you not? He’s a class act, and he’s hardly ever been in any sort of trouble, which is hard to say when you see all the scandals and controversy today – Ryan Braun, Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, even going back to Barry Bonds, to just name a few.
So, as we breathe in the cool air, look up at the colored leaves and settle down with some hot apple cider to watch the postseason drama play out over the next few weeks, let’s give one final tip of the cap to the Captain. Thank you for all the memories, Mr. Jeter.