Sunday, December 5, 2010

Did Al Pacino convince Derek Jeter to re-sign with the Yankees?

Derek Jeter was reluctant to re-sign with the Yankees for a pay cut until somebody in the Yankee camp compared the Yankee captain's situation to Al Pacino's movie career. This anecdote comes from a Bob Klapisch column from The Record called "Creative contract helps Derek Jeter's ego over the finish line." Here's how the conversation went down:
Jeter wanted $25 million a year. The Yankees wanted him to take a pay cut. The two sides were increasingly hostile toward each other, using the newspapers to draw blood. Finally, one member of the Bombers’ negotiating team pulled Jeter aside and asked him to consider the team’s point of view.

A reduction in pay was not a sign of disrespect, the executive said. “Look at Al Pacino,” was the analogy he used. “He makes less per movie at 70 than he did at 50. But he’s still one of Hollywood’s greatest actors.”

It was creative, smart and entirely on-point. No one knows if the Pacino reference broke the impasse, because the Yankees left Jeter’s home without any firm commitments. But three days later his handlers called and said they were ready to find a middle ground.

Aa a longtime Pacino fan, I laughed out loud reading this. Because as well-meaning the executive was, the analogy doesn't quite work. Pacino's work as an actor is respected as a whole, and he's a big hit on Broadway now in "Merchant of Venice," but he hasn't had a memorable film role since 1999's "Any Given Sunday."

A better example would have been to compare Jeter to Julia Roberts. She was once the most-highly-paid female star in Hollywood, making $25 million a picture. Now in her 40s, Roberts got around $10 million for "Eat, Pray, Love," but that lower salary hasn't dimmed her fame. However, I don't Jeter would have been liked to have been compared to the star of "Pretty Woman" and "Steel Magnolias"!

But I digress. The thing that made me laugh was talking about Pacino at 50. One of my big pet peeves about Hollywood is that they didn't reward him for the great work that Pacino did in his 30s, in terrific films like "The Godfather" and "The Godfather II," and "Dog Day Afternoon," and "Serpico." Heck, Marlon Brando was nominated -- and won -- for Best Actor -- in "The Godfather," while Pacino, who had much more screen time than him, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the film, along with James Caan and Robert Duvall for the same film. (Joel Grey won that year for "Cabaret.")

Anyhow, it seemed like at some point in the late '80s that Pacino figured that the only way he was going to get an Oscar was to do some over-the-top onscreen histrionics that looked like Acting with a capital A. So the actor who barely spoke above a whisper in the first two "Godfather" films screamed his way through "Godfather III." And "Dick Tracy." And "Scent of a Woman," where he finally won that long-overdue Oscar for yelling "hoo-hah" a lot. That film came when Pacino was 52. Anyhow, this is inside baseball -- make that inside Hollywood -- but other than "Glengarry Glen Ross," I wasn't much digging Pacino's early '90s work!

For that matter, I don't want Jeter to get any overacting lessons from this part of Pacino's career so he can get an MVP -- his pretending to be hit by a pitch last year was quite enough acting, thank you.
Back to the Klapisch article. Here are a few more interesting tidbits:

The problem, all along, wasn’t just the numbers or even the money: it was Jeter’s ego that had to be helped over the finish line. That’s why logic and examples of true market value didn’t resonate until almost six weeks into the process.

That’s why the talks turned so bitter, because no one on Jeter’s side was willing to break the cocoon that insulates him from reality. Not his agent, Casey Close, not his family, not his friends. For the first time since 1996, Jeter was finally refused a request. Twenty five million a year? No way, said the Yankees. Not now, not ever.

That's why I scratch my head and wonder why Casey Close didn't talk Jeter down the ledge a while ago. If they had asked for, say, four years and $80 million, they would have be seen as asking for a lot, but they wouldn't be perceived as delusional. $25 million a year -- for six seasons, yet -- is delusional. Yes, Jeter ended up getting more money from the Yankees, but a more reasonable opening bid would have still gotten him that money -- and kept his reputation intact.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Unknown said...

If he didn't force a no from management with an outrageous asking price, he would have had a better chance at getting a bigger payout than what he ended up getting. I think it cost him a million a season.

Lisa Swan said...

That's a point I hadn't thought of, Charles!

Another point I hadn't thought of -- somebody on Facebook told me that the Yankees made Jeter an offer he couldn't refuse!

Uncle Mike said...

If Jeter is Al Pacino, that makes Alex Rodriguez... Leonardo DiCaprio? A pretty face who finally learned how to act and more respect for it. The girls loved Leo in "Titanic" in 1997, but for those of us both male and over 21, it was unwatchable, and he died in the end.

(I must admit, I'm a little partial to the TV-movie version from the year before, with George C. Scott as the captain and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Isabella.)

2009 was A-Rod's "The Departed." (Ignore that the film took place in Boston -- and real-life Yankee Fan Jack Nicholson balances out Sox fan Matt Damon.) Which makes 2010 A-Rod's "Inception": A lot of hype, but hardly anybody liked it, with good reason.

Lisa Swan said...

Mike, I don't get why you always bring up A-Rod's looks, like he's some pretty boy who finally learned to play. It's all the more ludicrous, given the comparison with Derek Jeter, who has certainly benefited from female attention -- how many "Mrs. Jeter" shirts have been sold, exactly?

Dale Sams said...

I was going to say The Insider was pretty high profile, but I see it came out before Any Given Sunday Christ, it's been 11 years?

Anyway, you can pinpoint the change in Pacino's acting style right down to his speech in And Justice For All

"You're out of order! The whole system is out of order!!"

Unknown said...

Why did so many involved did not consider the over whelming fact that Jeter has fallen for the high inside pitch that he failed to lay off of so many times that put him in the 270's, raised his strike out totals and hit into far to many double plays.If that range continues then the Yanks got screwed

Lisa Swan said...


That's a very fair point about it all starting with "...And Justice for All." In my mind, that was acting, though, more than a prolonged schtick, so I didn't trace it to there. But that was technically the beginning of the Angry Al!

Take care,


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