Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shocker: New York Times reporter discovers Derek Jeter cares about money

I had to laugh yesterday when I read New York Times columnist Tyler Kepner profess bafflement at the contract negotiations with Derek Jeter. Specifically, his impression that the captain was above thinking about money:
The really baffling thing is that Jeter — through Close — has made his feelings public. For a decade, Jeter has stood apart from other players in that money has never been an issue. His expired 10-year, $189 million deal had no opt-out dates or escalator clauses. He has always been well paid, without carrying Rodriguez’s burden of being the game’s richest player.

As it turns out, it was naïve to think of Jeter as above the fray.
Gee, you think so, Tyler? It's laughable to think that somebody who signed the second-highest contract in baseball history at the time doesn't care about money. Or that he wouldn't have gladly taken the highest-paid contract in MLB history if it were offered to him. And any naivete on Kepner or other reporters' part on this issue is willful and deliberate. Do they think that Jeter does the Nike and the Gillette and the Gatorade and the Ford commercials just because he likes the products? Do they think Jeter hawked his "Driven" cologne just because it was a scent he wanted other men to wear? C'mon now.

As Squawker reader Symphony always says about the players, "Make that money." Being well-compensated for your talents is nothing to be ashamed of. And Jeter has helped a lot of people with him putting much of his money into his Turn 2 Foundation.

But I've been complaining for years about the unrealistic way the media has put Jeter on such a pedestal, "above the fray," if you will, as a living saint. That he's somehow a better person than anybody else in the game, who cares more about winning, and less about money, than any of his peers. The press has a penchant for doing this with certain favorites, like Brett "He's Like a Kid Out There" Favre, even though they know better. Like the way they covered for Joe DiMaggio, and pretended he was so classy and dignified, even though he was obsessed with both money and with being called the greatest living ballplayer.

Or when Jeter biographer Ian O'Connor claimed the captain "is the ultimate money player who doesn't play for money." Spare me. Most athletes, Jeter included, think of themselves first, last, and always. Nothing wrong with that -- you have to be that way in order to perform at such a high level -- but let's just be honest about it. They're not going to play for free. Why should they?

(And before you call me out about A-Rod, of course he's a diva. But, as I pointed out in the comments section of Kepner's piece, is it any less diva-like to have Bob Sheppard announcing Jeter's name from the grave?)

Anyhow, after Kepner admitted his naivete, he's still determined to keep polishing the ol' Jeter image:
The same competitiveness that drives him on the field, it seems, has carried over to his off-field priorities. That is probably why so many athletes strive to make money they will never be able to spend. They are intensely competitive, and — in an equation that is hardly unique to sports — money equals respect.....

If Jeter is baffled, chances are he is hurt, and his pride is wounded. We might find that hard to imagine when the dollars are so high. But in the end, it might be a good thing. All the bickering reminds us of the depths of Jeter’s competitive instincts. Extra motivation never hurt an aging athlete.
Heaven forbid we ever admit that somebody who is building a 32,000 square foot Florida mansion known by neighbors as "St. Jetersburg" would ever be all about the Benjamins. No, Kepner still can't quite to bring himself to admit that Jeter might actually care about money; he's got to turn it around to show that it's just more evidence of his "competitive instincts" and stellar character.

It's true money is a way of keeping score. But as I've said before, the real thing here is that Jeter thinks he deserves to make more than Alex Rodriguez for the way he's carried the pinstripes all these years. The irony, of course, is that it doesn't this fit with either the "Jeter doesn't care about money" meme, or the "A-Rod is sooooo jealous of Jeter and not the other way around" meme that the media have constructed over the years.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Symphony said...

And my second motto will be "But it ain't my money."

Business is a two-way street. When Derek Jeter had ultimate leverage ten years ago he didn't give any hometown discounts. So, while I don't need Hank speaking, he's right. They don't owe anyone anything financially.

Its unfortunate both sides won't handle this behind closed doors. I understand wanting public opinion on your side in negotiations but I still wish it wasn't like this.

And in all seriousness, I want someone who is on Jeter's "side" to say what he should get. I have a feeling some (not all) believe a fair contract is whatever Derek wants.

Al Edly said...

In my opinion, your article is very accurate.The offer is generous. Even if 2010 is an aberation, his prospects for the next 3 years are completely different from when he signed his last contract. One factor that doesn't get much media attention is that hit just 2 home runs after June 12.
I realize Jason Varitek is nowhere near Derek jeter and that his "fall-off" is much more dramatic. Still it is interesting to see how the big-spending Red Sox dealt with their 11-year veteran captain when he turned 36, one year removed from being on a World Champion. They didn't worry too much about any roar from Red Sox nation. They let him go to free agency and ultimately cut his salary in half and guaranteed him only one year,even though he had big,bad Boras behind him.
Things may have been much different in 1938 but everything I have read said Joe DiMaggio was murdered in the press and booed badly when he finally ended his holdout after the season began. He had been runner-up MVP the preceding year and I believe he wound up signing at the Yankees original offer .
Sure,the world is different today. However, I can't see the public havng too much sympathy for Derek when the Yankee contracts will have given him close to a quarter of a billion dollars over the first forty years of his life-even if Alex Rodriguez will get more.

A Yankee fan since 1943

Lisa Swan said...


Excellent point. I'll add that as the corollary to your first point!

Unfortunately, I think Jeter's idea of a fair contract is $1 more than Alex Rodriguez's, which is why we're not hearing a specific number.



You raise a very good point about Jason Varitek. And IIRC, didn't he at first turn down arbitration, that would have paid him a lot more than what he ultimately got?

People keep on comparing the Jeter and A-Rod deals, but aside from the fact that they had two completely different walk years, the economy was booming in 2007. In an age of double-digit unemployment and recession, fans are much less likely to be sympathetic, even for Jeter.

Symphony said...

All about the timing. And he may not have many fans, but Boras getting the opt out so A-Rod could renegotiate one more big contract at 32 was something.

Ryan said...

I would consider myself on Jeter's "side." The Yanks want 3@15 and Jeter presumably want 5 or 6@21. Neither is resonable, and they both seem like reasonable starting positions to give room to move. I would say that a 4@17.5 or 3 at 18-20 with a mutual otion for a 4th would be fair to both sides. The Yankees will make a large pile of $$ off of 3000 merchandise and advertising. Another option is 4@15 with lots of incentives like ARod's hr incentives.

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