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Derek Jeter, the leader of the New York Yankees and the heart and soul of arguably the most storied franchise in all of professional sports went down in Game One of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers.
While attempting to dive and field a ground ball off the bat of Detroit Tigers' shortsop Jhonny Peralta during Saturday night's extra-innings 6-4 loss at Yankees Stadium, Jeter's left ankle buckled and gave out.
The Captain is done for the remainder of the postseason after fracturing that troublesome left ankle.
The injury likely will require surgery (though Yankees' General Manager Brian Cashman has requested more tests to make sure) and three months of recovery time. While the injury is not career-threatening, one does have to wonder if and how Jeter's mobility going forward will be affected. After all, shortstops have to be arguably the most agile players on the field in order to do their jobs, so this fracture certainly won't be good in that regard either, especially for a player who will be 39 years old next summer.
The question is, are the Yankees' once lofty postseason aspirations dashed as well without Jeter there to lead them?
It's going to be tough to stick it out to say the least. Before Jeter was lost, the Yankees were already dealing with the absence of the best closer in the history of the game in Mariano Rivera after his tore his anterior crucial ligament earlier in the regular season while shagging fly balls in the outfield; something he's done for as long as I can remember.
Losing Mo' and now Jeter puts the Yankees in a position that's very unfamiliar to them — October underdogs.
If you're like most baseball fans, you would likely gasp and exclaim 'blasphemy' at the mere mention of the words "Yankees" and "underdogs" being in the same sentence. Nevertheless, because of the injury bug, that's exactly where the Bronx Bombers find themselves now — behind the eight ball and needing to find a way to win against all odds.
Can they do it?
It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility. After all, it's not like there's any shortage of talent (there never is with the Yankees). The question is, will that talent perform the way it's capable of performing, most notably, Alex Rodriguez? I mean, the Yankees can't honestly rely on Raul Ibanez to save them every night, can they? No offense to Raul, I just don't see how any one player, even one who's on a hot streak like he's on, can single-handedly carry a team.
It's a new season, but the same problems continue to plague the Yankees: no consistent starting pitching outside of their top three in CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte and A-Rod and others continue to struggle.
One thing's for sure, if the Yankees don't want their postseason journey to end prematurely, then everyone on the roster needs to step their game up. It was already going to be a tough road to the World Series and now it's just gotten that much tougher because of the colossal void the loss of the Captain left behind.
Good luck, Yankees. It's not going to get any easier from here.