Hard to believe: A Subway Series without Jeter

It is fair to say that Monday was the first day this year when Derek Jeter was conspicuously absent. That is not to say that the Captain isn’t missed. No matter how well Jayson Nix and before he got hurt Eduardo Nunez have played shortstop in his absence, neither player has exactly made the Yankees’ fan base forget all about Jeter.

However, the Yankees have played such an invigorating brand of ball over the first 50 games of the season that Jeter’s loss while recovering from left ankle surgery has been muted to a degree.

Now comes the Subway Series and, oh boy, where is Derek?

Jeter has been every bit the face of this annual inter-league competition. He and Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte are the only players still active with the Yankees who were part of the first regular-season series between the New York clubs in 1997. Manager Joe Girardi also goes back to ’97 as the Yankees’ regular catcher. In fact, he got three of the Yankees’ nine hits in that first game when Mets righthander Dave Mlicki silenced a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium by pitching a 6-0 shutout over the Yankees and Pettitte. Jeter struck out to end the game, which was really the last time the Mets had the upper hand in the series.

DJ and Mo are the only players who have been part of the Subway Series on a continuous basis since then. Pettitte spent three seasons in Houston, and Girardi went back to Chicago and later started his managerial career in Miami. Rivera missed last year’s annual grudge match because of right knee surgery, and Jeter will miss this week’s slate of games at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.

It felt weird coming to Flushing and not chatting it up with Jeet about the series. He always tried to downplay it but then would take the field and play as if he wanted to knock the Mets’ block off. He often did, too.

In 84 games and 380 at-bats in his career against the Mets, Jeter has batted .368 with a .421 on-base average and a .548 slugging percentage for a .948 OBP with 66 runs, 19 doubles, 2 triples, 13 home runs and 43 RBI. He found Shea Stadium to his liking (.321, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 18 RBI in 34 games and 137 at-bats) but not so much Citi Field (.233, 2 doubles, 2 RBI in seven games and 30 at-bats).

And, of course, Jeter was the Most Valuable Player of the real Subway Series, the 2000 World Series in which the Yankees beat the Mets in five games, by hitting .409 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs and 2 RBI. It is hard to imagine these two teams playing on the same field together without Jeter being a part of it, but that will be the case the next four nights.

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