I'm paraphrasing here, but the Tigers' Delmon Young probably said it best last night when asked by TBS' Craig Sager about how the team persevered after losing a four-run lead in the ninth:
"We're big league ball players. That's what we do," he said.
This is why I disagree with the pronouncements by Yankee fans that the team is done after losing Derek Jeter for the rest of the postseason to a fractured ankle. As I always say to Yankees fans in these situations, "spare me the drama."
They're big leaguers. They'll go on. They might even win.
Believe me, I would like nothing more to have the Yankees completely fall part after this. I'm pretty happy that Jeter's not going to be playing. I'm not one of the many who said, "I really don't like the Yankees, but you hate to see that happen to anyone." To me, that's exactly what I want to happen. I want to see the best players on the teams that I don't like disappear, whether through slump, injury, or because the washing machine exploded at home. Doesn't matter. Just get him out of there.
But I'm not gullible enough to think that the Yankees are over in this postseason.
Jeter's injury is hardly unique. There are plenty of star players who have been injured at the worst moments, affecting their play in the postseason.
Shall we review?
Johnny Cueto, 2012
Didn't have to look very far, did I? Cueto was the ace of the Cincinnati staff, but back ailments cost him the entire Reds' postseason, which amounted to all of five games.
Outcome: Reds lose to Giants in NLDS
Matt Holliday, 2011
Holliday was left off of the Game 7 roster in last year's World Series after injuring his finger. He had a heck of an NLCS for the Cardinals, but had cooled off in the Series.
Outcome: Cardinals win Game 7 and the Series.
Billy Hatcher and Eric Davis, 1990
Both Hatcher -- who was hitting like 8,000 at the time -- and Davis left Game 4 of the 1990 World Series with injuries. Cincinnati was beating Oakland three games to none at the time, but still, losing two key outfielders is just tragic, right?
Outcome: Reds sweep the World Series.
John Tudor, 1988
Tudor, acquired by the Dodgers late in the season for their postseason run, leaves Game 3 of the World Series after just two innings of his start with a shoulder injury. The injury leads to the end of his career.
Outcome: Dodgers win World Series, highlighted by some injured guy hitting a home run.
Vince Coleman, 1985
The Cardinals' young rookie speedster is eaten by a tarp machine prior to the fourth game of the NLCS. Coleman and his record 110 stolen bases are lost to the Cardinals for the World Series.
Outcome: Cards fall in seven games to Royals, but an umpire might have helped K.C. out.
Reggie Jackson, 1981
Jackson gets injured on the bases during the ALCS against Oakland and misses the first three games of the World Series against the Dodgers.
Outcome: The Yankees win the first two games without Jackson, lose the third and then lose the rest with Jackson in the lineup.
Jim Rice, 1975
At the end of an amazing rookie season, Rice is hit by a pitch that breaks his wrist. He misses the entire postseason for Boston.
Outcome: Red Sox take Reds to an epic seven games before losing the World Series
Tony Kubek, 1964
Late in September, a frustrated Kubek punches the dugout door, straining his wrist so badly that he is out for the postseason.
Outcome: Phil Linz takes Kubek's place in the infield. Yankees eventually fall to the Cardinals in the World Series, spelling the end of the 1947-64 Yankees glory years.
Mickey Mantle, 1951
In Mantle's first season, the Yankees make it to the World Series and faced the Giants. In Game 2, Mantle goes for a short fly ball hit by Willie Mays. In an attempt not to collide with fellow outfielder Joe DiMaggio, Mantle pulls up, catches his cleat in a drain and messes up his knee. He watches the rest of the World Series from a hospital bed.
Outcome: Yankees win anyway.
Hank Greenberg, 1935
Ten years before Greenberg would lead the Tigers to the title over the Cubs, his team was playing the Cubs in the 1935 World Series. The Tigers were looking for their first World Series title. But star Greenberg fractures his wrist in Game 2 of the Series and is shelved for the remainder.
Outcome: Tigers win their first World Series.
I'm sure there are many other examples. The point is teams go on after demoralizing injuries and some of them actually win titles, too.
You may be saying, "But Jeter's different! He's the captain! His season was so great! He makes the team go! He's the inspiration! He's experienced! He's been there so many times! None of his teammates are hitting! He's Mr. Intangibles!"
And I say:
Nobody on the Yankees, or the Tigers, for that matter, is thinking that way. They will play regardless of who or who is not out there. And they'll do pretty well. It's within the realm of possibilities that whoever is replacing Jeter in the lineup may end up doing something outstandingly, sickeningly stunning. That's happened many times before. Remember Eric Hinske for the Rays in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series?
Spare me the drama.
They're big league ballplayers. That's what they do.
Night Card Binder candidate: Derek Jeter, 2000 Fleer Tradition Update, No. 5
Does it make the binder?: I doubt it. It's matched up against another No. 5, but I don't know who it is. I'll have to do some night card research.