The Sport Effect

Derek Jeter’s ‘Flip Play’ exemplified right place, right time

I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. 

The normal inclination was to adhere to Terrence Long’s generate into the proper-discipline corner, Shane Spencer digging it out, then arcing a throw that air-mailed each Alfonso Soriano and Tino Martinez. 

But sitting down in the press box guiding property plate in Oakland, Calif., on Oct. thirteen, 2001 — wow, two many years back already — I wanted a rapid glimpse of in which Jeremy Giambi was in his journey from 1st base. That is when I 1st noticed Derek Jeter, going absent from second, in which he experienced been in anticipation of covering the bag for a Very long double. Jeter was now racing towards the midpoint in the line from property to 1st. 

Jeter stated subsequently — such as past 7 days in a conference with reporters — that he was “where I was intended to be,” that the Yankees practiced this state of affairs in spring education. But then and now: Definitely, a third cutoff male? 

If there was everything that defined Jeter’s career as a Yankee, nevertheless, it was “The Flip Play” — proper area, proper time. 

Right after all, the Yankees have picked as substantial as sixth just four times in the background of the typical draft, none due to the fact they experienced that choose in 1992, when they chosen Jeter. Three groups — Houston, Montreal and Cincinnati — experienced to ignore the top participant on their board in 1992 so that Jeter could slip to sixth. To the staff, for which he informed his fourth quality instructor he would one particular working day enjoy. The only staff for which he ever wanted to be connected. 

The Oakland Athletics' Jeremy Giambi, center, is tagged out at home by Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, right, during Game 3 of the American League Division Series in Oakland, Calif. as Derek Jeter looks on after making
Derek Jeter gets Jeremy Giambi at property with “The Flip Play.”

Suitable area, proper time. 

There’s doubt by a contender in New York that it need to be heading with a 21-year-old rookie shortstop? Jeter homers on his 1st at-bat of the 1996 season and makes the defensive enjoy of the match. 

The Mets earn Recreation three of the 2000 Earth Series in the 1st match at Shea Stadium? Jeter homers on the 1st pitch of Recreation four. 

The clock strikes midnight on the 1st main league match ever to ebb outside of Oct? Jeter hits a 10th-inning homer and earns the nickname Mr. November. 

Derek Jeter celebrates his game-winning home run in the 10th inning as he rounds first base with a fist in the air in Game 4 of the World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 1, 2001.
Derek Jeter turns into Mr. November with a stroll-off property operate.

Jeter is the male who strike the ball Jeffrey Maier scooped. The male who dove into the stands in opposition to the Pink Sox. The male who threw out Timo Perez at the plate. The male who homered for strike No. three,000 and went five-for-five that working day and drove in the profitable operate to boot. The male who drove in the profitable operate on his final swing ever at Yankee Stadium. 

Jeter was a good participant. You never gather the sixth-most hits in background as everything short of good. Nonetheless, when I believe of Jeter, I never believe of greatness. I believe of consistency. I believe of self-assurance. Generally, I believe of timeliness. He was the most well timed participant I ever noticed. He virtually has plays named for him — “The Flip,” “Mr. November” — since he was: proper area, proper time, proper male. 

Of program, he did not occur as a result of on every occasion. But with Jeter, it was clear from the outset that no second was even larger than the participant. He would not blink in crises or in large places. It is why his slash line for a season’s really worth of playoff online games — 158 of them — in opposition to the best opposition at the most pressurized time (.308/.374/.465) is a close to facsimile to what he gathered about 20 standard seasons and two,747 online games (.310/.377/.440). He was a metronome in a position to embrace New York, Oct, fame — instead than be eaten by it all. 

Jeter notably hated the analytics tidal wave as a participant, in aspect since it so denigrated his defense. Which is why Jeter’s career so suits him. Yes, he has good data. But what you don’t forget is not the quantities, but the functions. The timeliness. 

I feel analytics deliver good macro quantities, in specific, that improved assist describe the match or improved determine a player’s strengths and weaknesses. But within just the program of a match, what can get lost is the need to earn that personal match. Jeter excelled at this. It was uncomplicated for him — do what is needed to earn this match. I believe the simplicity served him not be unnerved at any specific time — just enjoy this personal match, regardless of what is needed, to earn. 

Observe The Post’s protection of Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame induction

Which delivers me again to why — most of all — I believe of The Flip when I believe of Jeter. Because context is needed. 

The 2001 Yankees in lots of methods ended up functioning on fumes. For a lot of that season, it felt they ended up profitable on muscle mass memory and habit to profitable (they experienced won four of the past 5 Earth Series and three in a row). There was a feeling of functioning on fumes of greatness by late that year — Scott Brosius and Paul O’Neill, for case in point, retired right after that season. The bullpen guiding Mariano Rivera lacked depth and excellence. 

The Yankees then lost the 1st two online games of a best-of-5 in The Bronx. It would have been easy to understand for even a proud group (and it was a proud group) to mentally surrender and value the end of a historic operate. But Jeter, in specific, was not constructed that way. 

I don’t forget in spring of 2005 inquiring Jeter if he believed when, in Recreation 7 of the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees cut an 8-1 deficit to 8-three in the seventh inning in opposition to Pedro Martinez in relief, they ended up heading to rally and still earn the series. His eyes glowed and he stated, “Of program.” And I knew it was not the words and phrases provided since you are intended to say that, but instead reflected the unflinching perception Jeter experienced that he would earn in the end. 

So right here was the seventh inning of AL Division Series Recreation three in 2001, Mike Mussina pitching brilliantly, but clinging to a 1- direct when Very long smacked the ball in the corner and Giambi took off from 1st. Probably, it sticks with me since I noticed Jeter and experienced that piece-of-a-second believed: “Where the hell is he heading?” Turns out, he was heading someplace to earn. 

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada tags out Jeremy Giambi at home plate after Derek Jeter's flip play.
Jorge Posada tags out Jeremy Giambi right after Derek Jeter’s “Flip Play.”

He fielded a one particular-hop throw with his momentum flowing towards the traveling to dugout as he crossed the 1st base line. The only improvisation he will get credit history for is the backhand flip — excellent, like an choice quarterback — to his pal Jorge Posada, who swiped the non-sliding Giambi’s leg at the plate. You will get a superior argument even now, protected or out? Umpire Kerwin Danley ruled out. The inning was about. The match was much too, since Rivera was about to occur in for two innings. The series much too, as the Yankees by no means lost to Oakland once again. 

They received all the way to Earth Series Recreation 7 — on fumes or muscle mass memory and lingering excellence. But if Giambi experienced scored, the Division Series most likely would have ended with Recreation three. The Yankees would have absent property, dynasty about at that stage. 

When Jeter is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, I will definitely once again believe of that enjoy, observing Jeter in the beginning out of the corner of my eye, mounting to the second in the most significant location. I will believe that he is on that podium, finding a plaque and immortality for lots of good reasons. But for this explanation much more than any other: 

Suitable area, proper time, proper male.