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Derek Jeter’s number retired

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Today was Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium. In his honor they played 2 today. OK, they played 2 because of a Saturday rainout, but it wouldn’t shock me if someone, somewhere argued that it was Mother Nature’s way of showing RE2PECT for the Captain.

The main event, of course, was the pregame ceremony before the nightcap. That’s when the Yankees retired Jeter’s number 2. Here’s video of the unveiling:

Jeter gave a speech as well. Among his comments: “. . . time flies, memories fade, but family is forever. And I’ll be eternally grateful to be part of the Yankee family.” He thanked Yankees fans, “for pushing me, for challenging me, for making me accountable, but more important, for embracing me from day one.” He added, “I got a chance to play for a first class organization and in front of the greatest fans in the history of sports.”

Watch his speech here:

Jeter’s career, quite obviously, needs no detailed summary. You know the legend. The World Series rings for each finger of his hand. The iconic moments. The 3,400+ hits. The fact that he never once played on a team that was sub-.500.

You also know the way he has been and likely always will be discussed by fans. Adored uniformly by Yankees fans. Respected by fans of his opponents, even as he broke their back on a regular basis. Universally acknowledged as an all-time great.

Yet, for various reasons, people have always felt it important to call him “overrated.” That probably says more of our times and the nature of sports discussion these days than anything else, even if there is a core of truth to it. Jeter was among the best to ever play the game. Jeter was, by some, overrated. Those two things are not in conflict, actually. But even if it is technically true that he has been overrated by some, it seems sort of beside the point.

For twenty years, Derek Jeter was baseball. There were better players. There were players who were more important to you or your friends or fans of teams that were not the Yankees. But he was, unofficially, The Face of Baseball from almost the moment he burst onto the scene until the day he retired. Because of the difficulty Major League Baseball has had in promoting its younger stars in this far more fragmented age, he may still be the Face of Baseball, actually. Maybe the last one baseball will ever truly have. Whether or not that matters is an open question, but it wouldn’t necessarily shock me if Derek Jeter is the last baseball player who attains his level of fame and celebrity for a long, long time.

I watched Derek Jeter from the time he was in Triple-A in the town where I went to college until his last game in the majors. I can honestly say there was not a single game in which he played in which I rooted for his team and only a handful of games in which I hoped he’d come through at any given moment. I’m not a Yankees fan and, let’s be honest, Jeter didn’t need me rooting for him.

But I can’t help but think anything this evening other than “Hats off to ya, Jeter. You deserve this day.”

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”