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…and is the first Yankee ever to be honored as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year!

We all knew it was coming.  With the information leaked out on Saturday, Yankee fans had to wait for Monday for the confirmation, but it is official now with the magazine announcing that Jeets is the Man o’ the Year.

“It’s unbelievable. It was completely unexpected. It came out of the blue,” Jeter told the AP during a break in the photo shoot. “When I heard it, what can you say? It’s one of the greatest honors you can achieve in sports.”

Jeter had one of the best years of his career in 2009, leading the Yankees to their 27th World Series Championship and earned his fifth World Series ring.  Here are some other of the Captain’s accomplishments in 2009:

  • Hit .334, with 18 HR’s, 66 RBI and 30 steals.  He finished third in the AL MVP voting and earned the AL’s Silver Slugger Award for hitting as a shortstop.
  • Had a career-low 8 errors at shortstop and was the best statistical shortstop in MLB.  He was honored with the AL’s Gold Glove @ shortstop by his fellow players and managers.
  • Became the All-time Yankee leader in hits, by passing the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, in September.
  • Led all American League Players in All-Star Votes for the 2009 game in St. Louis.
  • Scored his 1,500 run, passed Mickey Mantle for all-time at bats as a Yankee (with over 8,103), and passed Bernie Williams and Babe Ruth with over 2,085 games played as a Yankee.
  • Earned $100,000 for his charity the Turn 2 Foundation, by out-hitting the Mets’ David Wright in a hitting challenge.  Delta Airlines made a $100,000 donation to Jeter’s charity and $50,000 to the charity of Wright’s choice.
  • Was honored as the Roberto Clemente Award for excellence on and off the field
  • Won the Hank Aaron Award as the American League’s top hitter

Last year’s winner was Michael Phelps, who had a record performance at the Beijing Olympics.  The last winner from baseball was the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who were honored as a group for breaking the 86 year streak of no championships in Boston.

Congrats to Jeets!  He is truly the most deserving sportsman in 2009!

With the fun of hosting our first Thanksgiving at our new home, I have been unable to get online and sink myself into the Yankee Universe until now.  There are two stories I want to throw my two cents in on.

Bob Sheppard will not return

First, long time Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that he has “no plans of coming back.”  Sheppard was the voice of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium for the better part of 6 decades, announcing such stars as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly and Derek Jeter.

I am sad to hear this – Mr Sheppard was the voice I heard from my first Yankee game through most of my life and I know that many will miss him.  He has not announced a game since late 2007 due to illness, and the 99 year-old deserves his retirement.

Before this, Sheppard had always said he intended to return as the Yankees announcer when he overcame his illness.  Paul Olden took over for Sheppard this year and has been doing well filling those big shoes.  Sheppard’s voice can still be heard at Yankee Stadium every game – Derek Jeter uses a recording of Sheppard’s voice when he comes to the plate.

Roy Halladay talk heats up

The rumor mill is cranking about Roy Halladay and what appears to be an inevitable trade from the Blue Jays.  Will he go to the Yankees?  Will he go to the Red Sox?  Jon Heyman reports that the Jays are interested in Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero and possibly a pitcher like Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.

I’m torn on this.  On the one hand, Halladay is a combined 37-21 with a 2.79 ERA in his last two seasons with a sub-par Toronto squad.  He was the most dominating pitcher for the first half of the 2009 season, so he does have what it takes to be a good pitcher.

But to give up a great prospect like Jesus Montero and a solid young pitcher like Hughes or Joba, is just a little silly.  Halladay is 32 years-old, and will want a 4-5 year contract at max money.  He has thrown over 220 innings each of the last 4 seasons and I am concerned he might break down at the end of a long contract.  With 32 year-old AJ Burnett already on the roster for the next 4 years, I don’t want to turn the rotation into what might end up looking like an old folks home.

 

AOL Fanhouse has published its list of the top free agents for this winter. Leading this list is none other than the Angel’s John Lackey, with Matt Holliday and Jason Bay rounding the top three.

For the Yankees, Pettitte is ranked #4, Johnny Damon is ranked #8 and Matsui is #17, one spot after Vlad Guerrero.

I’m gambling that the Yankees go after only Jason Bay. They’re going to save their cash for 2010 when there is a slew of free agents available.

 

Although still unsure if he will retire or return to baseball one more season, Andy Pettitte filed for free agency Thursday.  It’s safe to think that if he does choose to return, it will most likely be with the Yankees – but, you never know for sure.  Pettitte was 14-8 in 32 games with a 4.16 ERA.  This followed a year in which he was 14-14 in 33 games with a 4.54 ERA.

Although I’d love to see him come back, one has to wonder how Pettitte will return in 2010.  The 2009 version wasn’t exactly night-and-day better than the 2008 version.  After a fairly average 2008, the Yankees refused to give him an offer in the 8 digits, instead offering him a $5 Million base salary with opportunities for incentives to bring it up into the 8 digit range.

Pettitte rose to the occasion and captured almost all of his potential salary and he was dominant on the mound in the postseason, becoming the pitcher with the most career wins in the postseason with his 16th win during the playoffs this season.

I would assume his leadership is great to have around the clubhouse and he has a lot to bring to the Yankees, even at 37.  I for one, support bringing him back.

Several items from the Yankees 27th Championship are on display now at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  Although mlb.com reports more memorabilia may be arriving in Cooperstown in a few weeks, there are quite a few things on display currently:

1.) Hideki Matsui’s Game 6 Bat – This bat was used to drive in a record-tying 6 runs to clinch the Yankees’ Championship and earn Matsui the MVP honors.

2.) Mariano Rivera’s Postseason Cap – Rivera was, in my opinion, the MVP of the Yankees postseason.  Rivera had a 0.56 ERA and was 5 for 5 in save opportunities.  He ended up preserving 5 of the Yankees 11 wins.

3.) Johnny Damon’s Cleats from Game 4 – The game turned in favor of the Yankees when Damon got on base and stole second and third on the same play.  The Game 4 win gave the Bombers a 3-1 advantage in the series.

Plus, the HoF received several other notable items, including the catching masks of Jorge Posada and Jose Molina, Andy Pettitte’s World Series Cap, and the first ball to come out of play at Yankee Stadium, which was the first ball ever used in a World Series Game at the new stadium.

The Hall also received the scorecard used by WCBS announcer Suzyn Waldman – who became the first woman to broadcast a World Series game along with longtime Yankees play-by-play man John Sterling, and one of the bats used by Chase Utley, who tied Reggie Jackson with 5 home runs in one World Series.

I’m going to wait a few weeks for more stuff to arrive, but I am going to have to figure out a way to drag Chris up from Maryland and get up to the Hall.  I’d love to see the new memorabilia and it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Hall anyways…

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