Yes, he finally did it. Derek Jeter got his 3000th career hit in style today, by hitting a home run in the third inning off the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price. Jeter is only the 28th player (and first Yankee) to reach the illustrious milestone, and the second player to reach 3000 by hitting a home run (can you guess who the other one was? He was a former Red Sox player whose name rhymes with Fade Loggs). It was pretty cool to watch, but I must say that my favorite part of the whole thing was seeing the players in the Rays' dugout clapping for Jeter and giving him a standing ovation. That's the type of sportsmanship that brings happy tears to my eyes.
Us Puerto Ricans are happy for Jeter, but it's a bittersweet milestone for us, because our own Roberto Clemente was not able to surpass the 3000-hit mark due to dying in a plane crash while traveling on a humanitarian mission during the off-season of 1972. Clemente had a little bit of baseball left in him (Jeter definitely does too), and probably would have gone way past 3000 hits had he been given the opportunity. I hope Derek plays for a few more seasons and continues to move nicely up the list of all-time hitters.
But the Yankees captain is not perfect. Some people have criticized Derek Jeter for being a lousy shortstop, some think he can't handle the pressure of playing in New York, and others, like Jeter's boss, Hank Steinbrenner, think Jeter was "too busy building a mansion" to focus on baseball. My only current gripe about Derek Jeter is that he is choosing to skip the All-Star Game because he wants to fully heal from all his injuries. A-Rod is skipping the game too, but in his defense (and I can't believe I'm defending A-Rod!), he is truly injured and will need surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his knee (the same surgery that Chipper Jones just had today). But Jeter? He's getting old and beat up, but it's not excuse to skip the All-Star Game. And if they don't give him his financial bonus for not going to the game, it probably doesn't even make him bat an eyelash. How many people out there bought tickets to the game so they could see Derek Jeter? I think it's inconsiderate and selfish of him. But Americans tend to forget when prominent people make stupid decisions (remember that lady in Alaska who quit her job because she didn't want to be governor anymore? I wonder how many have forgotten that?! But I digress...), and Derek Jeter will forever be baseball's Golden Boy. And yes, he deserves to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, but after going to Cooperstown to watch Iván Rodriguez get inducted in a few years, I think I'll skip going to see Jeter's entry into the exclusive club.
Congratulations to Derek, but may he not pass Cal Ripken on the all-time hits list! :-)