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Captain enjoying the ride thus far
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10/06/2003  4:05 PM ET 
Captain enjoying the ride thus far
Jeter celebrates, but knows ALDS win is just one step
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Derek Jeter helped get the champagne flowing after Sunday's AL Division Series clincher. (Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS -- With 68 postseason victories and four World Series rings in his pocket, you wouldn't think that Sunday's win over the Twins would be a significant event for Derek Jeter.

But there he was, celebrating in the Yankees' clubhouse at the Metrodome, spraying champagne on his teammates and coaches after New York advanced to the American League Championship Series with an 8-1 win to wrap up the Division Series.

In fact, Jeter wouldn't let manager Joe Torre talk to reporters until he was properly doused with bubbly. Once that was accomplished, the Yankees' captain sought out Andy Pettitte, who was hiding out in the trainer's room, making sure that the Game 2 winner was brought into the celebration.

"The champagne tastes a little sweeter every time, but everybody knows that we're not where we want to be," Jeter said. "This is a step. A step in the right direction."

That's what makes Jeter the player he is. He appreciates each step that goes toward winning a championship, but he won't be fully satisfied until he wins the final game of the baseball season.

"You want to experience the good times and the bad times, and you have to rebound from the bad times. I think this team is coming together well," Jeter said. "We've been through ups and downs this year. The division race was pretty tight, we played some important games in August and September and we responded well. But we have to continue to do it."

    Derek Jeter   /   SS
Derek Jeter
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
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Yankees site

Jeter batted .429 in the ALDS, going 6-for-14 with a home run, two runs scored, four walks and a .555 on-base percentage. His 107 career postseason hits -- 46 of which have come in the first round -- are a Major League record.

"It's gratifying to say the least," Jeter said. "Celebrating never gets old. A lot of teams would like to be in this position, but there are only four teams moving on from here."

After the Yankees were eliminated from the postseason in the first round last year, Jeter talked about how that particular group of Yankees had never gone through the trials and tribulations of a postseason, as key players from the championship run such as Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius had left the team. Now, with a series win on their résumé, the 2003 Yankees are looking to take the next step.

"There are some guys here from last year, but we also have some new guys," Jeter said. "It feels good to move on, but you can't think about last year anymore."

Jeter insists that he wasn't thinking about last year during this week's series, and that the loss to Anaheim was not a motivation for him to advance past the first round this year.

"I wasn't out there thinking about what happened in Anaheim," Jeter said. "You have to be able to put it behind you, otherwise those things will just keep carrying over."

Jeter said that he doesn't care whether the Yankees take on Oakland or Boston in the ALCS, where he will try to lead his team to four more wins and a sixth World Series appearance in eight years.

"We're playing well right now," Jeter said. "We're pitching well, swinging the bats well, playing good defense and running the bases well. If we keep that up, I like our chances."

Having showered and de-champagned himself, Jeter slipped into his designer suit, a smile plastered on his face. As the Yankees began to file out of the clubhouse, ready to fly back to New York, Jeter surveyed the scene one last time before heading out toward the team bus.

"This group here hasn't won, so this is something worth celebrating," Jeter said. "We're going to enjoy this tonight, take tomorrow off and then get back to business on Tuesday."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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