Yankee All-Stars 2014: THE FIRST AND THE LAST
By: Luis Vazquez
The 2014 MLB All-Star game will be a celebration of fresh beginnings and final goodbyes. The New York Yankees will have three All-Stars at this year's midsummers classic. Two of them represent past excellence and one who just that this year. Derek Jeter, 40, who will be playing his final All-Star game is an interesting contrast to relief pitcher, Dellin Betances, the Washington Heights product, who will be participating in his first.
It seemed only a short time ago when Jeter was the shortstop in the 2000 All-Star Game at 26, with three championships already, he went three for three with hits off Steve Avery, Randy Johnson, and Al Leiter, drove in two runs and scored one to win the All-Star MVP, the first and only Yankee to accomplish this. He went on to win another championship that year and claim MVP honors there as well.
Today the question is about whether Jeter deserves to be here by statistics alone. Sometimes numbers do not measure impact. Jeter is today's living baseball jewel. As revered as Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle, he is this generation's legend. There have been many who played the position better or put up more power numbers, many with an assist from a needle. Jeter is about the intangibles. He is what baseball is all about.
A throwback to yesterday who succeeded Don Mattingly as the Captain of the New York Yankees as well as the all-time hits leader of this revered franchise. His relentless approach to playing the game won many admirers, among them a young man who witnessed prime Jeter growing up. As always Jeter spread the credit around as he said "Those guys (Tanaka) and (Betances) deserve it as much as anyone. I'm looking forward to enjoying it and sharing it with them."
Dellin Betances was one of two young stud pitchers who along with Manny Banuelos represented the future of the Yankees. But they struggled and Betances incurred arm problems that led to Tommy John surgery. It seemed after four years as a starter in the minors, he would never live up to the promise his high 90's fastball from his towering 6' 8" frame. But a last gasp attempt to salvage a career was decided when he would be moved to the bullpen.
The reports were encouraging. He was blowing away hitters and he control was excellent. He was added to the bullpen of the 2014 New York Yankees and has become one of Girardi's most trusted weapons out of the bullpen. He also became the first twenty something picture to make the All-Star team since current closer David Robertson in 2011. He has already appeared in 37 games with four wins and pitched 50 innings giving up only 22 hits and nine runs.
The walk to strikeout ratio, 16 and 78 with a 1.61 E.R.A made Betances a deserving all-star. There was a lot of prodding done to convince American League manager, John Farrel to include him on the team. Betances was humbled by the news as he said:
"Its been a long journey from al the years in the minor leagues, all the ups and downs, just to have such a good first half and for the players to vote for me, I"m truly humbled."
Jeter has shown that he is finally in decline. But with an average of .273 with 2 home runs and 23 RBI's, at the least Jeter is hanging in there after missing a postseason and just about all of last season with an ankle injury that looked like it would retire him one year early. But on his farewell tour of Major League Baseball, he gets a pass for not hitting .300 or playing a vintage shortshop every game. But for those who remember what he had meant in an era where just about every star has fallen under the dark cloud of steriods, its badeball, pure and simple again. "I think it will be great " Girardi said to Daily News reporter Mark Feinsand. "I think its great for the fans, for baseball, and I'm sure they have something special planned."