It’s one of the biggest ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games of the season this week and not just because it’s a great matchup between the Astros and Yankees in the Bronx. The bigger story is the retirement of the No. 2 of former Yankees captain Derek Jeter.
I believe that this Sunday’s Astros-Yankees game will be among the most-watched and thus most-wagered matchups of the season. Sure, it could be a potential playoff preview with Houston running away in the AL West and New York a big surprise and near the top of the AL East. However, the game is almost secondary because the Yankees will retire the No. 2 of one of the greatest and most popular players in franchise history: the Captain, Derek Jeter.
Jeter was the face of the Yankees for his 20 seasons. He had franchise-record 3,465 hits, which ranks No. 6 all-time in MLB history. He added 1,311 RBIs and 260 home runs while making 14 All-Star teams. The All-Star appearances are tied with Cal Ripken Jr. for the second-most by a shortstop in MLB history behind only Ozzie Smith. Jeter will join Ripken Jr. and Ozzie in Cooperstown in 2020 – perhaps as the first player to receive 100 percent of the vote. Jeter was the All-Star Game’s MVP in 2000, the same year he won that award in the World Series, becoming the first and still only player to pull off that feat.
Jeter will be the 22nd player to have his number retired by the Yankees and probably the last for a long, long while. With the No. 2 now out of circulation, all single-digit numbers will be retired by the team (by far the most in MLB). Incidentally, Jeter didn’t want to be a No. 2. When he first reported to the team in 1995, Jeter wanted 13, the number his father Charles wore while he was a shortstop at Fisk University. However, catcher Jim Leyritz wore No. 13 back then so Jeter took No. 2. On June 4, 2003, three weeks before his 29th birthday, Jeter was named the 14th captain in Yankees history.
The Captain won five World Series titles as part of the homegrown “Core Four” along with catcher Jorge Posada, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte and closer Mariano Rivera. All three have had their numbers retired. Some consider outfielder Bernie Williams as part of that core – but “Core Five” doesn’t rhyme -- and Williams, who was part of four title teams, also has had his number retired.
And it’s here we get to our MLB betting angle for this weekend. The Yankees are just 1-3 in games those previous four players had their numbers retired and were favorites in each – just as they will be Sunday night behind ace Masahiro Tanaka. Look for a preview of Sunday’s game from Kevin Stott on SBR’s MLB picks page.
Here’s a look at how the Yankees fared in the previous four number retirement games -- winning only in Posada's -- and those players’ achievements:
Career Stats: 82-60, 2.21 ERA, 652 saves. Rivera holds the all-time saves and games finished records. A 13-time All-Star, he also received Top-10 AL MVP consideration six times. In 96 postseason games, he was 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA and, naturally, 42 saves. Rivera might beat Jeter to become the first player with 100 percent of the Hall of Fame vote.
Career Stats: .297, 287 HR, 1,257 RBI, 1,366 R. Williams played 16 seasons with the Yankees, a career that included 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Series rings, five All-Star selections, four Gold Gloves, a .297 average and a major league-record 80 postseason RBIs.
Career Stats: .273 average, 1,664 hits, 275 home runs, 1,065 RBI, 900 runs. From 2000 to the end of his career in 2011, Posada led all MLB catchers in home runs and RBIs.
Career Stats (three seasons with Astros not included): 219-127, 3.94 ERA in 447 games. Pettitte holds the Yankees' franchise strikeout record with 2,020 and is No. 3 in team wins behind Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing. He totaled 19 postseason wins, the most in MLB history when he retired.Bet On Yankees Futures At SBR's Top Sportsbooks