Thus far, New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter’s hall of fame career and image have been squeaky clean. So why in Jeter’s 16th season is he finally being put under the microscope?
Maybe some of it has to do his surprisingly dramatic contract negotiation with the Yankees or maybe it’s simply the fact that he is finally showing signs of declining.
Either way, the biggest shot is coming next month. ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor has written a book about him called “The Captain.” It focuses on Jeter’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez.
“According to O’Connor’s account, Jeter seemingly went out of his way to maintain his grudge against Alex Rodriguez over the latter’s less-than-flattering comments about Jeter back when he played in Texas (that whole “he’s never had to lead” stuff from a GQ article). That, rather than swallow his ego and lead, he was actually a primary reason why the Yankees’ clubhouse was so dysfunctional for so long after A-Rod arrived. He could have been the bigger man, set an example for his teammates and helped A-Rod assimilate better but … he didn’t.” [New York Post]
It’s strange; it seems recently that every year there is a controversial book being released that told the tale of a Yankee legend (Manager Joe Torre’s The Yankee Years, and ESPN’s baseball insider Buster Olney’s The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty) now O’Connor’s book on Jeter.
There are some previews that have been released from the book, so let’s take a look at some of the juicer parts.
Don Mattingly, then the hitting coach and former captain, tried to intervene, citing his own unfriendly history with teammate Wade Boggs. “I faked it with Boggs,” he told Jeter. “And you have to fake it with Alex.”
Jeter, now 36, was a Yankee farmhand and A-Rod, 35, a Seattle Mariners first-round pick when they first met at a Michigan-Miami baseball game in 1993 — introduced by agent Steve Caruso, who found A-Rod was already fascinated by Jeter.
The pair had plenty in common — both were young, ambitious shortstops on the cusp of superstardom — and split their time between A-Rod’s place in Seattle and Jeter’s Upper West Side apartment. They appeared together on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1997.
They were so close, they became targets of teasing. “Are you going over to your boyfriend’s house?” major-league first baseman and former high-school teammate Doug Mientkiewicz needled A-Rod.
Yankee slugger Jim Leyritz once had to remind the rookie Jeter, “Hey, dude, he’s on the other team.”