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Jeter revisits famous flip play of 2001

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POSTED June 13, 2014 11:32 p.m.

OAKLAND (AP) — Derek Jeter has never understood the fuss over his famous flip.

The New York Yankees shortstop just looks back on that moment in Game 3 of the 2001 AL division series as being in the right position and making an improvisational play when his team needed it most. All the attention over the flip so many years later is what surprises him the most.

“It’s probably the play you see the most of, I see the most of,” said Jeter, who announced earlier this year that this season would be his last. “I think all moments are special. I’ve never ranked them.”

Jeter’s retirement tour rolled through a special spot Friday night when the Yankees began their only regular-season series at the Oakland Athletics. It was here at the Coliseum on Oct. 13, 2001, when Jeter completed one of the most improbable and iconic plays in baseball history.

With New York facing elimination and leading 1-0 in the seventh inning, right fielder Shane Spencer missed two cutoff men on a hit by Oakland’s Terrence Long. Seemingly out of nowhere, Jeter swooped in, scooped up the errant throw along the first-base line and made a backhanded flip to nab Jeremy Giambi — who did not slide — at the plate.

The Yankees went on to win the game, and the series.

“A lot of things have to go right, but then also a couple things have to go wrong in order for it to happen,” Jeter said. “I think that one was just sort of like a perfect storm.”

Jeter has long maintained that the Yankees practice the unusual cutoff formation in spring training. But, he conceded, he practices throwing to second or third — not home.

Just why Jeter was in that position is the question former A’s players such as Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez have asked him when they joined the Yankees later in their career.

“Nobody believes us until they actually see us working on it,” Jeter said. “I think that’s the thing they bring up the most.”

The A’s are planning to honor Jeter — as most clubs have — during Sunday’s series finale, his last scheduled visit this year. The video highlights are not expected to include his flip, which is still a sour note for fans in Oakland.

“I’ve seen it. I’m sure they’ve all seen it, too,” Jeter joked.

Most in Oakland believe Giambi would have been safe had he slid. Jeter’s not so sure.

“Maybe. We’ll never know. I’m glad he didn’t,” Jeter said.

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