|Derek Jeter exults after his walk-off hit in his final|
game in Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
Still, he was a special player, the linchpin of a special team. For my money, the 1998-2001 Yankees were the greatest team ever --- better than the 1936-39 Yankees, better than the 1975-76 Reds, better than the 1926-28 Yanks, better than all the magnificent multi-year dynasties and mini-dynasties. And Jeter himself, I say, is the second best shortstop in major league history -- not up to Honus Wagner's standard, but better than Cal Ripken or Arky Vaughn or Ozzie Smith or Alex Rodriguez or anybody else one might care to nominate.
Thursday's game wasn't merely the last home game of Jeter's career. It's also the only game he ever played in the Bronx with the Yankees mathematically eliminated. The expanded playoff system certainly had something to do with that, as the the quality of the teams he played for. But that's still an astounding fact.