The prevailing opinion on Derek Jeter among those who actually know what’s up is now correct: “Jeter is overrated” talk became so prevalent during his career (especially the latter stages) that his Yankees tenure is now officially underrated.
Add in the wide-ranging impact he’s had on generations of fans, and that rating continues to be undercounted.
After a far-too-long wait thanks to the scourge that was 2020, Jeter will finally take his place at the pedestal in Cooperstown on Wednesday afternoon. Knowing how the shortstop operates, he’ll be a man of few words, and will instead let his highlight tape speak for him.
And what a tape it is, featuring the types of instinctive plays you only see from born-with-it talented superstars. Often imitated, never surpassed. That kind of thing.
This current generation of stellar shortstops is clearly inspired by Jeter’s flair for the dramatic and dogged pursuit of victory at all costs, from Xander Bogaerts to Carlos Correa. And though the generation behind them didn’t get a chance to witness his prime, they’re clearly still inspired by No. 2’s very best.
Take, for example, these kids, who perfectly replicated Jeter’s iconic Flip Play in the Oakland Coliseum in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS, one of the most “unbelievable plays you’ll ever see by a shortstop”…until you see a bunch of children absolutely nail it, too. Then you’ll begin to believe.
Young Yankees fans executed Derek Jeter’s Flip Play to perfection.
Perfect. No notes. Now can we get this played on the big screen in Cooperstown?
Jeter’s delayed induction was obviously a shame for so many reasons, but first and foremost because the icon was the rare matinee idol who didn’t demand public adulation. He operated with his head down more often than not. This Hall of Fame showcase week was supposed to be the chance for massive throngs to book up all the motels and B&Bs in Cooperstown and share their thunderous respect for the Captain — as well as help keep the small town rolling for another year or two.
Unfortunately, 2020 was a lost year, and 2021’s mid-week celebration in upstate New York isn’t quite as grandiose as it should be, though it’s far better than the limited-ticket event that was scheduled earlier in ’21 before things began to open back up. Still, though, the waves and waves of Jeter supporters who grew up reliving his greatest moments again and again, wiggling their whiffle ball bats above their heads without ever knowing exactly why, won’t necessarily get to gather en masse.
That’s what makes videos like this one so essential. Not only have those imitators grown up with Jeter, but so have their children.
As for the “Flip Play” itself, Jeter admitted this week it’s likely the singular moment of his career that comes up the most. Though it nearly had a very different ending, the Yankees shortstop is more than satisfied with how the whole thing turned out.
With the new-look Yankees in need of another miracle or two down the stretch, perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst idea to practice recreating this bit of ALDS magic themselves.
And, for goodness sake, slide.