The long goodbye is now in probably its final month. That means there are aspects of Derek Jeter's career that now really are final.
It is one thing when Jeter plays his final games in Chicago or Los Angeles or even Toronto. It is another when it is against the Red Sox.
So this week, Jeter will play his final three games at home against the Red Sox. He will finish his regular season in Boston on Sept. 26-28. But who knows? By that time, the Yankees may be eliminated from the playoffs and Jeter may decide that his final game should be at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25.
That is a question to be answered later. For now, we know that these next three days will be the final ones against the Red Sox in the Bronx.
In honor of that, here is the play that perhaps most defines Jeter's career.
Now, let's hit some notes as we enter the final month of the season:
1. It doesn't look good for the Yankees. They need to go 20-7 from here on to reach the 90 wins that might allow them to earn the second wild card. Is that impossible? No. Improbable? Yes.
Beside their inability to score runs, the Yankees' biggest issue right now is how many teams are in front of them. They have to beat out three other clubs for the second wild card, as of now. If the Tigers, Royals, Mariners or Indians get hot, forget about it. (Note: Of those three Central teams in the mix, one of them is going to win the division, obviously, and won't be a factor in the wild-card chase.)
Here are the latest wild-card standings.
2. You want some positive spin? OK, I'll give it to you anyway. As we mentioned before, the next three games are against the Red Sox. They are the world champions in name only these days.
While they are building for next year, the Red Sox are winning at a .438 clip. They are pitching Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo the next three days. These guys may have some potential, but none are established.
Joe Girardi likes to talk about taking two of three, but if the Yankees want to make it interesting, they need to sweep the Red Sox, while the Tigers and Indians face each other and the Mariners are playing the A's. The Yankees could tighten things up a bit with a simple three-game sweep. (I know, nothing is simple with this team.)
The Royals have a good chance to get fat as well, as they will host the Rangers. Of course, you never know in baseball.
3. Who had this in the preseason pool? In the first games of September, the Yankees have Shane Greene, Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Capuano going for them -- and they can actually feel pretty good about it.
5. What is one reason to believe the Yankees have a miracle run in them? What hasn't worked out in Jeter's career?
6. What is one reason to believe the Yankees will come up short? You have watched the offense for the past five months, right?