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Mr. Clutch

Nobody performs under pressure like The Captain -- Derek Jeter

Posted: Thursday July 8, 2004 11:43AM; Updated: Friday July 9, 2004 12:07PM
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Some baseball fans say there is no such thing as a clutch hitter. Have they ever seen Derek Jeter play? The Yankees shortstop once put together a 14-game World Series hitting streak and owns the record for most postseason hits with 123. In honor of Jeter's first election as an All-Star starter at shortstop, SI.com has compiled a list of the top 10 clutch moments in his career. Read our list then see what you had to say.

No. 10: Hot in Atlanta
AP
Date, site: July 11, 2000

Site: Turner Field, Atlanta

Setting: All-Star Game

The Play: Starting in place of the injured Alex Rodriguez, Jeter doubled in the first inning to give the American League its first extra-base hit in two years. Jeter's two-run single in the fourth inning provided the winning run for the AL's 6-3 victory and garnered him the first All-Star Game MVP award in Yankees' history. Said Jeter: "Look at all the Yankee greats over the years. You figure at least one of them would win one."

No. 9: Live from New York!
Date: Dec. 1, 2001

Site: NBC Studios, New York

Setting: Saturday Night Live host

The Play: As a ballplayer, Jeter is used to being on live television. But that's just it -- as a ballplayer. Jeter had to delve deep into his powers of clutchness to pull off a spotless appearance as host of Saturday Night Live, replete with opening monologue. The highlight was the skit "Baseball Wives," in which David Cone and David Wells (who played a pair of groupies) joined Jeter (as Candy Soriano) in full drag. Here's the best part, with Jeter making the punchline look as easy as a 6-3 putout:

Candy Soriano: God, I know I shouldn't say this, but I think Tino Martinez is super-foxy, girl!
Patrice Williams: I don't know ... his wife tells me there's not much to work with.
Shanice Clemens: Y'all, Tino is teeny!
Candy Soriano: I don't believe that, 'cause I've studied that bulge!
Patrice Williams: You know, Jeter is the cute one, Jeter is where it's at!
[ they all agree, except for Candy ]
Candy Soriano: Mmm... no... Jeter does not do it for me. He looks like the Rock had sex with a muppet.

No. 8: Sinking the Mariners
Date Oct. 14, 2000

Site: Safeco Field, Seattle

Situation: ALCS, Game 4; Yankees lead 2-1

The Play: Roger Clemens got the headlines for his 15-strikeout, one-hit shutout of the Mariners, and deservedly so. But it was Jeter who broke a scoreless tie with a fifth-inning, three-run home run off Paul Abbott with Scott Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch aboard. Three days later in the Bronx, the Yankees were headed for the Subway Series after clinching their fourth AL pennant in five years.

No. 7: Chasing Beckett
AP
Date: Oct. 21, 2003

Site: Pro Player Stadium, Miami

Situation: World Series, Game 3; series tied 1-1

The Play: To most of the Yankees on this night, Josh Beckett was unhittable. Most, but not all. Jeter collected the Bombers' only three hits off Beckett, who struck out 10 in 7 1/3 innings. Jeter scored three runs in the 6-1 victory. Said Joe Torre: "It took me 30-something years to get to the World Series. [Jeter] thinks it's an every-year occurrence. You look in his eyes, you see something special because he's a leader. He was a leader when he was 20 years old."

No. 6: Bye-Bye, Birdies
AP
Date: Oct. 9, 1996

Site: Yankee Stadium, Bronx

Situation: ALCS, Game 1

The Play: In perhaps the ultimate sign of clutchness, Jeter had the presence of mind to hit a fly ball right to where a 12-year-old kid's interference would result in a botched-call home run. Seriously, though, did you remember it was Jeter who hit the ball that would land in Jeffrey Maier's -- and not O's right fielder Tony Tarasco's -- hands? The bogus home run off Armando Benitez tied the game 4-4 in the eighth and the Yankees went on to win 5-4 in 11 innings.

No. 5: The Dive, Part I
AP
Date: Oct. 15, 2001

Site: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Situation: ALDS, Game 5; series tied 2-2

The Play: The Yankees led the A's 5-3 in the eighth with Mariano Rivera on the mound and one out. Eric Chavez was on first base. When Terrence Long popped up foul to the third-base side, Jeter sprinted toward the stands and dove, making a ridiculous catch while crashing into the stands. The series was as good as over. Said a sobbing George Steinbrenner: "I've never seen an athlete dominate any sport -- in baseball, in basketball, in football -- like he dominated this series."

No. 4: The Dive, Part II
AP
Date: July 1, 2004

Site: Yankee Stadium, Bronx

Situation: Yankees lead Red Sox by 7 1/2 games

The Play: Regular-season games don't get much more dramatic than this. In the top of the 12th with runners on second and third and two outs, Boston's Trot Nixon sent a blooper over third base. Jeter sprinted over, caught the ball in fair territory for the third out, then went completely horizontal as his momentum sent him flying into the stands. New York went on to win 5-4 in 13 innings, but Jeter never saw the ending -- he was in the hospital with a busted chin.

No. 3: Subway Smash
AP
Date: Oct. 25, 2000

Site: Shea Stadium, Queens, N.Y.

Situation: World Series, Game 4; Yankees lead Mets 2-1

The Play: In Game 3, the Mets had snapped the Yankees' 14-game World Series winning streak, but Jeter took the momentum back for the Bombers by leading off Game 4 with a home run. The Yanks went on to win 3-2 and wrapped up the Series the next day. Jeter became the first player to win MVP honors in the World Series and All-Star Game in the same season. Only one other player -- Hall of Famer Frank Robinson -- had won both pieces of hardware in a career.

No. 2: Mr. November
AP
Date: Oct. 31, 2001

Site: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Situation: World Series, Game 4; Yankees trail D'backs 2-1

The Play: Bad things happen when you leave your pitcher in too long against the Yanks. Byung-Hyun Kim had pitched the eighth inning, blown the save in the ninth on a two-out gopher ball to Tino Martinez, then was left in for the 10th. On Kim's 62nd pitch, three minutes after midnight, Jeter sliced a pitch just over the 314-foot sign in right field to break a personal 1-for-10 slide. "I think I broke my foot hitting [home] plate," Jeter said.

No. 1: The Flip
AP
Date: Oct. 13, 2001

Site: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.

Situation: ALDS, Game 3; Yankees trail A's 2-0

The Play: Slide, Jeremy, slide! Alas, Jeremy Giambi didn't slide, allowing Jeter to kickstart another Yankees march to the World Series. With the Yankees up 1-0 in the seventh, Giambi reached base with a two-out single. Then Terrence Long doubled into the right-field corner, where Shane Spencer proceeded to overthrow the cutoff man. Suddenly, Jeter came into the picture and flipped the ball to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged Giambi. "What in the heck is Jeter doing running over there?" Oakland's Johnny Damon wondered after the game.

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