Jeter got a 10-year, $189 million from the Yankees not because of his intangibles, or his leadership, or his calm eyes, to use a Tim McCarverism. He got that kind of cheddar because he was a great player in the prime of his career. And really, all the focus on this other stuff takes away noticing the actual tangible baseball skills he has shown over the years, albeit much less so as of late.
Why isn't him being a first-ballot Hall of Famer enough? Why do we have to hear this myth, that Jeter isn't just a great player, but he's the best person to ever walk on the baseball field? That he was a better player than A-Rod, when he never was? That he doesn't care about money? That he's the greatest leader ever? It's nonsense. That's why they're called intangibles -- because you can't measure them!
I never thought Jeter was a good captain. Even before the A-Rod stuff, there was his annual "it's not the same team" post-playoffs speech he'd make every time the Yankees would lose in the postseason. Not exactly the kind of leadership that Paul O'Neill and David Cone provided in the late '90s dynasty.
As Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff noted:
Remember, when free agent CC Sabathia voiced concerns about the Yankees' clubhouse to Cashman, the GM admitted to the big lefty that the clubhouse was "broken."If Donovan McNabb could welcome dog killer Michael Vick to the Philadelphia Eagles -- a dog killer who ended up taking his job, yet -- then I don't think it was too much for Jeter to get over his issues with A-Rod. It was up to the captain to make the peace there. No less than Joe Torre admitted in "The Yankee Years" that the clubhouse was divided. How is that conducive to winning? How does that make Jeter any sort of great leader?
That's because Jeter, the team captain, could never work through his issues with Alex Rodriguez (and he apparently still can't, since you'd be naive to think Jeter's current contract demands have nothing to do with A-Rod). It's because Jeter did not help create an open, welcoming environment....
It did indeed take the arrival of Sabathia - and even A.J. Burnett a little bit, at least in his first year - to eliminate the "Choose a side, Jeter or A-Rod" - vibe that existed in the Yankees' clubhouse for a long time.
I remember watching A-Rod's first press conference with the Yanks, where he looked as happy as a clam. Meanwhile, Jeter mumbled through the whole thing, and looked like Vick killed his dog or something. I don't care if A-Rod is the most annoying person in the world; he was also the greatest player in baseball at the time. The fact that Jeter allowed his personal feelings to cloud what was good for the team was contrary to what he's supposed to be all about -- winning.
Then there are Jeter's ridiculous contract demands after coming off the worst season of his career. Yet except for Ken Davidoff and Bill Madden, most of the New York writers have given him a pass, just avoiding directly criticizing him. Are they worried that if they say something, Jeter will cut off their access or something? It's very peculiar.
One writer --MLB columnist Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com -- did say what needed to be said:
Jeter gets bonus points for the respectable way he's gone about his business the last 16 years, but he's pushing the limits. Yes, he's the face of the Yankees, but he is not bigger than the Yankees. His agent's contract suggestions, however, suggest he believes otherwise, and that's more of a slap in the face to "the Yankees brand" than anything the Yankees themselves are bringing to the table in this ridiculous melodrama....I agree!
Let's not make this a matter of respectful worship for a sacred cow. This is a negotiation between a team and a player, plain and simple. And if Jeter is adamant about receiving anything resembling $23 million a year, then the Yankees ought to instruct him to negotiate elsewhere.
What do you think? Tell us about it!