Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Derek Jeter Biographer Ian O'Connor Defends His Subject -- Again

ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor has written yet another column lauding the merits of Derek Jeter, without bothering to mention that he has written an upcoming book on the Yankee captain with the cooperation of Jeter and his friends and family. That makes at least a half-dozen times since the fall that O'Connor has written such a pro-Jeter column without even a cursory disclaimer about the book.

And that's problematic, especially given that the book is billed as being written with inside access to the captain. O'Connor's publisher's blurb says that in the upcoming book "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter" O’Connor" draws on extensive reporting and unique access to Jeter that has spanned some fifteen years." BN.com's promotion for the book says O'Connor "draws on unique access to Jeter and more than 200 new interviews."

I first wrote about this conflict of interest back in October, and then again in November (twice) and in December. And here we are in March, and O'Connor is still writing fawning articles about Jeter, without the simplest of disclaimers. Given that he has a financial stake in the subject, he should tell his readers about the book, and how he got inside access from Jeter for it.

O'Connor doesn't just write slobbering columns on the captain, but he has positioned those columns as being the inside view of Jeter. In one of them, he said Jeter wanted to play until 2017 (!) and that Jeter's trainer, Jason Riley claimed that "the desire to be the greatest can never be turned down by Father Time."

In another one last fall, O'Connor pushed for the Yankees to give Jeter a four-year, $23 million deal, saying those dollar figures would be "fair," and writing:
"There's no need to diminish him by demanding that he take a pay cut. If one athlete of this generation deserves to be overpaid, it's Jeter. A token, thanks-for-the-memories bump to $23 million would suffice.
There are a lot of pro-Jeter writers in this town, but nobody else in New York suggested such a ridiculous new contract for the captain.

O'Connor's most recent Jeter article says that he "desperately wants a dignified endgame to his career, and he knows that being a New York Yankees icon never guarantees you one." O'Connor also writes that "Jeter wasn't hurt so much by the tens of millions of dollars that the Yankees wouldn't give him. He was hurt by the public nature of the quarrel with his employer, and by the fact he was sucked into a swirling A-Rodian drama he couldn't control."  Well, is O'Connor speculating on the emotions here, or did Jeter tell him that's the way he felt? And if it's the latter, why did he share that with O'Connor? Is it because of the book?

Not to mention that O'Connor completely neglected to note that Jeter's agent Casey Close helped make this situation public, when he whined about being "baffled" by the Yankees stance, and compared his client to Babe Ruth. For some strange reason, that didn't make it into this article.

O'Connor also writes in the most recent piece that:

If he needs to be taken out of the leadoff spot and, ultimately, deposited near the bottom of the order, that will be a huge, franchise-rattling story. If he needs to be moved from shortstop to who knows where, the coverage of that demotion will be defined by an apocalyptic tone.

For now, Jeter is still Jeter, a future Hall of Famer who just needed some extra face time with the hitting coach, Kevin Long. With the contract done and the footwork adjusted, the smart money says the captain will make something of a comeback this year.
If Jeter needs to be moved down in the lineup, or switch positions, he will only have to do what every single superstar eventually faces. Is O'Connor suggesting that Jeter be held to a different standard?

I personally think Jeter will have a very good 2011 -- the anger over the contract talks this winter will motivate him, I think -- but this article is so filled with spin, it's like a washing machine or something. And you have to wonder if some of that spin is due to O'Connor's new book on Jeter.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Unknown said...

I think Jeter will have a very good year too.

I don't see a reason to NOT be more public with his Jeter book.

People have no misconceptions about the media. They are as much the story (and the reporters all want to be their own brand) that no one would blink over the connection.

Subway Squawkers said...

Yep. How difficult is it to put a "full disclosure: I have a book coming out on Jeter"? He'd probably even sell a few books, just by mentioning it!

Uncle Mike said...

Lisa, you're probably doing a better job of "promoting" the book than O'Connor's agent. Maybe you should get 5 percent -- half the usual agent's fee, since you're doing half the agent's work!

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