Free of obstructed views and fair-weathered opinions
I think it’s safe to say that Yankees fans have seen their share of history in the franchise’s 110-year history (remember they started as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901 and 1902). World championships, no-hitters, perfect games, monumental records, classic games … you name it, every generation of Yankee fans have experienced it. These moments add to the allure of the navy blue pinstripes and bring generations together. But even with all these magical moments, there’s one thing Yankees fan have never seen:
A player reach 3,000 hits in pinstripes.
In MLB history there are 27 members of the 3,000-Hit Club. None of these 27 reached the plateau as a Yankee. You read that right — NONE. And to add insult to injury, only three of the 27 (Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs) spent any amount of time in the South Bronx. Who knew that a franchise as storied as the Yankees could go through 100+ years without a 3,000-hit player in their history? But that will likely change in the 2011 season.
Barring a catastrophic injury, Derek Jeter should reach the 3,000-hit mark no later than June 2011. This will be my 17th season as a Yankee fan, and while I’ve seen some very special moments I can’t tell how excited I am to be able to witness this. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra … these are not only Yankee LEGENDS but some of the best players of all-time. None of them have reached 3,000 hits. I’ll be able to tell my kids that I saw the first 3,000-hit player in the history of the New York Yankees. If that alone doesn’t get you excited about the 2011 baseball season, you need your fanhood questioned.
Being able to see such a monumental milestone is all a part of the living history that surround us in this great game of baseball. Hell, there were 86 years of history just across the street from the current Yankee Stadium. While we look back and revel in the tradition that preceded us, it is important to take notice in what is happening here and now. We are in the presence of some of the greatest players taking part in the greatest moments ever. Some of it is destined from day one, and some of it creeps up unexpectedly. But it all shapes our fanhood and gives us memories that will last forever.
When talking living history with the Yankees, one cannot forget about the excellence of Mariano Rivera. Already the most dominating reliever of his era, the man we call “God” can further cement his status as a Hall-of-Famer by setting the all-time saves mark. With Trevor Hoffman’s recent retirement, he needs 42 saves to tie the record — and given Mo’s track record, 42 saves it definitely within the realm of possibility. Add in his forever-lowering post-season ERA, and he is inevitably a first-ballot HOFer. And how about Alex Rodriguez? He keeps re-writing the book with his offensive exploits. Already one of the most prolific hitting shortstops in the game at the time of his trade to the Yankees, he continues to move up the charts of baseball’s best power hitters (he currently sits at 613 career HRs). With 13 consecutive seasons of 30 HR and 100 RBI — and seven years left on his current contract — the all-time HR record is well within reach, barring injuries.
All the haters are quick to note how much the Yankees’ superstars have aged lately. To me, it’s just an opportunity to see records fall. The MLB record book is being re-written before our eyes every day. And now is the time to enjoy what we have now before it’s gone.