Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dirk Jitters Has The Balls To Know When It's Time To Retire

At Studious Metsimus, we take pride in our Mets-themed posts.  On those rare occasions when the topic of a blog post veers in the direction of Philadelphia or the Bronx, we make sure it's not complimentary in any way, shape or form.  When we've written pieces on Cole Hamels, we've made sure to use a photo of his identical twin brother.  And when we "honored" Mariano Rivera last year, we made sure to include a special video tribute.

So now it's time to write something special on one of Rivera's former teammates, who announced earlier today that he will be retiring from baseball at the end of the 2014 season.  It's a player whose name we promised would never be uttered in a Studious Metsimus blog post, so as always, we've changed his name to protect the guilty.  This is our special "tribute" to the one and only Dirk Jitters.

To paraphrase ZZ Top, "he's got balls; he knows how to use them."

Jitters made his major league debut in 1995, and his first two seasons were an absolute joy to watch, mainly because interleague play did not exist until 1997.  Once the Yankees and Mets began their regular season rivalry, Jitters became a one-man wrecking crew.  In games against the Mets, Jitters is the Yankees' all-time leader in hits (127), doubles (19), home runs (13), runs scored (66), RBI (43), stolen bases (19) and total bases (189).  Jitters has so dominated the boys from Flushing that no other Yankee is even halfway to his career total versus the Mets in hits (Alex Rodriguez has 62) and stolen bases (Alfonso Soriano has nine), and Jitters has almost twice as many runs, doubles and total bases as the next-closest Bronx Bummer.

But you can rejoice about one thing, Mets fans.  Jitters' .368 career batting average against your fav'rit team is not the highest of all-time.  You can thank Rico Carty (.380) and Don Slaught (.376) for that.  Of course, Jitters' batting average doesn't include his .409 mark against the Mets in the 2000 World Series.  He kinda also won the MVP in that series as well, but that's not important right now.

In 2013, Jitters spent almost the entire year on the disabled list for various maladies.  It was almost as if Ray Ramirez was his personal trainer for the season.  That came on the heels of his worst season against the Mets, as Jitters hit just .200 with no extra-base hits and no RBI against his crosstown rivals in 2012.  It was the first time Jitters did not drive in a single run against the Mets in a season series.  (Jitters hit .190 against the Mets in 1999, but he made his few hits count, managing a double, a home run and three RBI.)

Jitters may tell you the reason he's retiring is because he's accomplished everything he can on a baseball field and also because he'd like to start a family, but we know better.  He's leaving the game because he finally stopped hitting against the Mets, following in the footsteps of Pat Burrell, who hit 42 career home runs against New York's National League team, but none in his last 18 games versus the Mets.

Congratulations to Dirk Jitters, who is retiring upon the completion of his 20th season with the Yankees in 2014.  He had a career worthy of first-ballot enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, and also made a career of beating the Mets every chance he got.  It's nice to know Jitters and his balls will no longer be stepping into the batter's box against the Mets after the upcoming season comes to a conclusion.

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