ESPN's Rick Reilly took time away for writing apologias for Lance Armstrong to interview Derek Jeter the other day. (I do think it's amusing that Reilly, the same writer who once wanted to personally have Sammy Sosa drug tested, is all "I'll wear yellow in honor of Lance," but I digress.) And the talk with Jeter became a whole to-do because of what Jeter said about possibly playing elsewhere. But what I found even more interesting was the answer -- or non-answer -- Derek gave to another Yankee-related question.
Anyhow, Reilly's interview with Jeter is done in a format called Hit or Miss, where the athlete interviewed can say "miss" to a question he doesn't want to answer. Jeter gave that answer for a variety of questions, such as what was the weirdest thing a fan ever sent to him. But he also said "miss" to this "tough" question:
Me: Greatest Yankee of all time.Really, Jete? This isn't actually a hardquestion, except for those sportswriters who say that Jeter himself is the greatest Yankee of all time, which he is not. The only correct answer to this question is Babe Ruth, by the way (he's also the correct answer to who is the greatest MLB player of all time.)
Even if Reilly was suggesting in his line of questioning that Jeter himself is the greatest Yankee ever, that is not worthy of a "miss" response, either. The answer is the same -- it should be that Babe Ruth, not Jeter, is the best ever.
However, the media brouhaha is not over that response. It's over Jeter saying the following answer to a Reilly question:
Me: Peyton Manning changed teams this season after 14 seasons with one team. Could you see yourself doing that?Aside from the fact that the analogy doesn't quite work -- the Yanks won't get the equivalent of Andrew Luck starting at shortstop if Jeter goes -- I don't think there is anything necessarily controversial in acknowledging that baseball is a business. But what nobody in the media is pointing out is that Jeter and his agent, not the Yankees, had a very different response two years ago during the contentious contract negotiations.
Jeter: Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes. It's a business. People forget that.
Remember when Jeter balked at the Yankees' initial three-year, $45 million offer, and Brian Cashman encouraged Jeter to "test the market"? And the captain and Casey Close acted so insulted and outraged, pointing out No. 2's value to the franchise and comparing him to Babe Ruth? Close told Mike Lupica back then:
"There's a reason the Yankees themselves have stated Derek Jeter is their modern-day Babe Ruth. Derek's significance to the team is much more than just stats. And yet, the Yankees' negotiating strategy remains baffling."Sure, baseball is a business. Then why didn't Jeter and Close acknowledge that two years ago, instead of playing the sentimentality card?
Then Close said: "They continue to argue their points in the press and refuse to acknowledge Derek's total contribution to their franchise."
What do you think? Tell us about it!