1. The Flip Play
Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees changed baseball history with The Flip.
Yes, he was in the exact right place at the exact right time, but it’s still difficult to do the exact right thing once you get there. And he was only in that place in the first place because of his own instincts and ingenuity. Nothing was more emblematic of Derek Jeter’s career.
Down two games to none in the 2001 ALDS, and up only 1-0 in the third game, the Yankees were on the verge of succumbing to the 102-win Oakland Athletics (and definitely should’ve been prepared to do so!). Behind Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, the A’s had taken the first two games at Yankee Stadium. It was ok. New York City had been through a lot. It had been a devastating autumn. The Yankees had already given them so much. Moneyball could take their turn.
Except for, you know, the fact that that entire paragraph embodies a loser’s mentality, and Derek Jeter is staunchly allergic to my previous 100 words.
Collecting only two hits, New York won this third game, thanks to Jeter’s perfectly-executed shovel pass to Jorge Posada. Jeremy Giambi, a doofus of all doofuses (doofi?) chose not to slide as he approached the closest of plays. Posada whipped around and caught the back pocket of his leg (a deflating feeling we’ve all experienced in some capacity), inches from paydirt. Terrence Long sat on second like Fred Willard in “A Mighty Wind,” muttering, “Wha happened?!” to an uninterested Chuck Knoblauch.
It’s fine that Shane Spencer aimed and fired, apparently thinking home plate was located somewhere in the Oakland Coliseum’s expansive foul territory. Jeter was there to pick him up and change an entire postseason. Jeter was always there to do exactly that.