|Does Jeter's Fractured Ankle Mean Broken Yankees Dreams?||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on October 14, 2012
As the captain was carried off the field, the life seemed to actually drain from Yankees stadium. The fans repetitive chant of “Derek Jeter” seemed to be an almost desperate mantra as the lead and the game slipped away.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
Whether or not Jeter, who certainly wasn’t in top shape, should have been in the game will no doubt be a matter of debate for weeks if not months to come. But there is no doubt that Jeter wanted to play. He wasn’t thrust out there against his will, as he repeatedly told manager Joe Girardi that he wanted to play and that he was fine, despite what was obvious even to the most distant of eyes.
Girardi trusted Jeter to be honest or at least mostly honest about his condition for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that the Yankees didn’t have anyone who could play shortstop who held a candle to Jeter as an overall player. Jayson Nix may actually be a better fielder, that’s arguable, but he at least has a better range. His bat, though, certainly is lacking when compared to Jeter, who has been the Yankees best overall hitter in the postseason this year.
And I apologize to Raul Ibanez when I say that. He’s been the closest thing to Mr. October that the Yankees have seen in a while. But still Jeter has been the heart and soul of this team for so long that it’s hard to remember the pre-Jeter days. He’s been the leadoff man who always seemed to start things on the right track.
Now they’ll finish the postseason without him. Jeter’s fractured ankle has ended his season and perhaps even his full-time role as a Yankee when he returns from this injury.
So what does it mean for the Yankees? While Ichiro Suzuki can certainly step up to the leadoff role, the hole in the lineup caused by the loss of a .300 hitter, let alone the face of the team, isn’t going to be easy to overcome. Considering that the Yankees have only scored 20 runs over six games in the playoffs, Jeter’s bat will seriously be missed.
No doubt you’ll be hearing about how the team will miss Jeter’s leadership, and to a degree they eally might. He’s certainly outspoken and respected in the clubhouse, more so than probably anyone currently wearing a Yankees uniform, but the team is made up of professionals. None of them need to be told what to do or to have a rah-rah voice urging them on.
But it’s Jeter’s intangible effect on the team, and on the fans, that probably will be felt the most. The Yankees are Jeter’s team, not Cano’s, not Granderson’s, Ichiro’s, and certainly not A-Rod’s in the eyes of the fans. As much as the fans love the rest of the Yankees, they identify this team with Jeter.
No doubt they’ll attempt to rally and win one for the Jeter, the question of if they can win eight more games is very much in doubt.
With A-Rod essentially missing in action, and despite the heroics of Ibanez so far this postseason, Jeter’s bat is one of the keys that just barely allowed the Yankees to squeak by the Orioles. Getting past the Tigers is going to be a lot tougher now.
They are already down a game, they’ve yet to face Verlander, and CC won’t be ready to throw a big game until the fourth game.
What that means is that the Yankees really need someone to step up and make the fans forget all about Jeter’s fractured ankle.