Derek Jeter’s importance could be felt in the crowd gathered around the players’ gate last night. They waited in the cold for a glimpse after he came out of the game with a strained left quadriceps muscle.
Jeter was one of the last to leave the Stadium and board the bus, but he gave the crowd what they wanted: A wave and a smile.
“He’s not limping or anything,” someone said.
“It sounds like it’ll just be a few days,” someone else explained. “Now we can all sleep tonight.”
“Yeah,” everyone said.
The bus rumbled up Ruppert Place and down East 161st Street toward the airport. The team would be in Kansas City by dawn, but Jeter’s importance will never leave the Bronx.
“It’s hard to explain how much he means,” someone said. “The best I can do is: If he’s okay then we know everything else is gonna be okay, too.”
It takes a strong 25-man roster to win games and a strong 40-man roster to win pennants. Jeter can win over the Bronx with a wave and a smile.
There aren’t too many baseball players more important than that.