Thursday, March 12, 2009

Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams Become 24-Hour Adversaries

During twelve magical seasons as Yankee teammates, Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams reached six World Series and captured four titles.

In a combined thirty seasons in pinstripes, they have become as much a symbol of Yankee success as the immortal superstars that preceded them.

Jeter and Williams's friendship and fame even landed them a guest appearance on Seinfeld:

On Saturday night, the two will have to put aside their storybook past in order to compete against each other. At stake is a leg up in the World Baseball Classic’s second round.

Williams’ Puerto Rican team will match up against Jeter’s USA squad in a game that could go a long way in determining the eventual champion.

With both rosters littered with talent, it could become a captivating game dripping with intensity.

It is well known that the tournament is compromised as a result of hitters working through mechanical flaws, and pitchers developing arm strength and velocity. Mandatory pitch counts have also been implemented for safety purposes.

However, it is clear that nationalism and pride have become as much a part of this tournament as balls and strikes.

It is surprising how much the WBC means to the players involved, but it has heightened the level of play. Fans outside of the United States have been as passionate as an Olympic competition.

There are solid Major League pitchers ready to go for both countries, so it could come down to who is able to manufacture a run or deliver in the clutch offensively.

If the outcome is decided in the final innings, it would be exciting to watch Jeter and Williams given opportunities to win the game.

In his first professional action in over two years on Monday, Williams naturally looked uncomfortable at the plate.

Williams was able to work a walk, but seemed incapable of catching up to or turning on the inside fastball.

He was thrown out by a mile in attempting to score from second base on a single, showing that his 40 year old legs still need a little conditioning.

It will be strange for Jeter to stare across the field and see Williams in the opposing dugout. He was also forced to face his Yankee teammates in an exhibition game two weeks ago.

Saturday will represent the most important game that both will be a part of since Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS against Boston.

Let’s hope the outcome is slightly more positive and competitive this time around.

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