I don’t suppose you heard about this little thing Derek Jeter did last night.
Well, just in case, let me fill you in, because it was fitting for his final game at Yankee Stadium. With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth against the Baltimore Orioles, and a runner on second, the Captain was on his way up.
It was like a movie script: Jeter calmly sauntered to the plate as Bob Sheppard’s patented recording played on the loudspeaker. “Now batting, number 2, Derek Jeter. Number 2.”
Everyone in the stadium knew the gravity of the situation. This was his last at-bat at home. This was history. And they knew that one swing of the bat would make it legendary.
Who would’ve guessed that the storybook ending would become reality, as Jeter’s first-pitch swing on Evan Meek would fly past the first-base gap for a game-ending RBI single. A perfect Bronx ending for one of the team’s best and most beloved players.
To be honest, as a self-appointed “Yankee Hater”, I still can appreciate a baseball icon for what he did for the game. I was even hoping that he WOULD land the game-winning hit, and go out in the best of ways. For ending his career in Yankee Stadium with one final bit of heroics, allow me to extend this bit of appreciation:
Speaking of the Yankees, a former Yanks pitcher is making some headlines for a bit of unfortunate circumstance, and his reaction to it.
So, Minnesota Twins pitcher Phil Hughes missed out on a $500,000 bonus in his contract. After his final start of the season ended on a rain delay, Hughes fell shy of a 210-inning season – had he reached the mark, the bonus would have kicked in, and the half-million would have been his. So, how many innings did he end up pitching in 2014?
209 and 2/3 innings. Literally one out away from 500 G’s.
But, apparently, Hughes isn’t lamenting over his missed opportunity. In fact, when Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered to let him pitch again before the end of the season, the 28-year-old right-hander turned down the chance. Said Hughes:
I just didn’t think it was right […] If I were fighting for a playoff spot, I’d 100 percent be available. But given the circumstances, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
It’s commendable for a pitcher who likely didn’t want to risk injury for the chance at a cash bonus to make that decision, thinking about the long-term. Your average layperson in his position would likely have done differently, and to think for the good of the team is admirable.
Then, there’s the fact that he already had $8 million owed to him this year, on top of 180-game and 195-game bonuses of $250,000 each. He was going to be fine, regardless.
In any case, good on ya, Hughes. See you next season.
Now, if you would indulge me, allow me to point out some new names that stick out on the Sacramento Kings’ training camp roster, which was released yesterday. Some are locks to stay on (i.e. Nik Stauskas). Some are not (i.e. Sim Bhullar).
Regardless, training camp kicks off tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see who, of the 18, will make the final cut. Without further ado:
- Sim Bhullar: The New Mexico State product made history as the first Indian-born basketball player signed to an NBA contract. He also stands at 7-foot-5 – the tallest player on any NBA roster as of now. It will be interesting to see if he is good enough to catch onto the final roster, and what his size could mean for the team, and the league, if he does.
- Eric Moreland: The 6’10” Forward from Oregon State made a statement in this year’s Vegas Summer League – a league that the Kings ended up winning. He has size and defensive skills the Kings could definitely use. Whether that will translate to success against the league’s best will be a different story.
- Omri Casspi: The 26-year-old (who, coincidentally enough, shares my birthday) makes his return to the team that drafted him in 2008. After a three-year absence that brought him to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, he signed a league-minimum contract to rejoin the Kings, and hopes to make an impact in a frontcourt that will be expected to play at an erratic pace in 2014.
- Darren Collison: The newly-acquired point guard, signed away from the Los Angeles Clippers, will be expected to replace former starting PG Isaiah Thomas, whom the Kings let sign with the Phoenix Suns this past offseason. No pressure, but should he fail to produce, the wrath of Kings fans will likely come down not only on him, but the front office that chose him over the fan favorite in Thomas.
- Nik Stauskas: Selected eighth overall in this year’s NBA draft, the sharpshooting SG from Michigan will likely serve as the team’s long-range spark plug. He will also have to silence critics who questioned the pick, citing second-year SG Ben McLemore’s presence on the roster.
Speaking of the Kings, it seems that a version of the team from Sacramento is being formed 2,200 miles away.
I couldn’t help but notice that, with the acquisition of former PG/SG Jimmer Fredette this past offseason, the New Orleans Pelicans now have three men who played significant roles in the Kings’ recent (albeit, sub-par) history.
While my criticisms of Fredette have been well-documented, the Kings decided to select him as the team’s franchise point guard/sharpshooter in 2011. And, while he had flashes of the player Sacramento was expecting, he found himself in another roster less than three years after he was drafted. And now, with reports that the coaching staff want him to act like the shooter he was at BYU, perhaps his talents will be fully realized in New Orleans.
He joins another former lottery pick by the Sacramento Kings, and one, to be sure, was actually pretty successful during his tenure in California’s capitol city: SG Tyreke Evans. Drafted 4th overall in a class that included Blake Griffin and James Harden, Evans won Rookie of the Year honors, and was considered the team’s franchise player. That is, until a decline in 2013 prompted the Kings to trade him to New Orleans for a more pure point guard in Greivis Vasquez.
Then, there’s a name some Kings fans would like to forget – G/F John Salmons. His multiple tenures with Sacramento, while productive in terms of offensive statistics, made the team no better. The decision to bring him back in 2011 – coupled with the drafting of Fredette – was puzzling on a number of levels. Nonetheless, his services will likely be better in N’awlins … as far as I know.
In any case, I just thought I’d point out that happy coincidence.