Bitter fans of other teams watched the Yankees game tonight in shocked awe as Derek Jeter hit an opposite field RBI single in his final home appearance. It’s a wonderful moment, but what if I told you that the entire thing was a farce? That the moment was a setup, a joke, a lie? Allow me to break it down.
Evan Meek came into the game in the bottom of the 10th inning and thew three pitches to Jose Pirela, giving up a hit. His velocity, very poor, throwing a fastball at 88, the lowest fastball of the month of September (more on this later).
No one in the crowd understood the magic they were about to experience.
Given the moment, watching Gardner step into the plate, memories of Jeter stepping into the box and winning this otherwise meaningless game floated in everyone’s minds. The Yankees fans waited in intense anticipation.
Having said that, after the Gardner sacrifice, Jeter walked up to the plate and took a few practice swings. Meek toed the rubber, fired a fastball, and Jeter hit it the opposite way for the win.
A suspect finish to say the least, for a number of different reasons. First of all, the Orioles were shaded for Jeter to pull, an odd move for a team which has prided itself on it’s shifts and well placed defenders. Once the ball gets past the 2B of the Orioles, it rolls to Nick Markakis, a right fielder with one of the best arms in baseball, and his throw barely makes it. Mind you, the runner on second is a journeyman call-up from Scranton. That’s not even the most troubling thing.
Zipping a pitch in at 86 miles per hour, Meek threw the slowest pitch of his career, too slow to be a fastball but way too fast to be his change up. He threw it in a location which would be perfect for Jeter to take the other way, to take advantage of the shading. He can’t hit fastballs anymore, so it makes sense that it had to be grooved.
It was a truly manufactured moment, a true shame to ruin an otherwise perfectly good baseball game.