"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Derek Jeter Expresses An Emotion Other Than Calm Determination

Serious face.

I’m not surprised that Derek Jeter is upset about the way his negotiation with the Yankees went down.

I am surprised that he’s talking about it with reporters.

Jeter’s reluctance to say anything remotely controversial in public has become something of a running joke. Whether that’s because he’s wanted to protect his valuable image, or because he just didn’t want to deal with the rounds of media pestering that inevitably follow any such comment in New York, I don’t know, but I’ve often written semi-seriously that Jeter hasn’t said anything interesting since 1997.

“I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t angry about how some of this went,” he told reporters at his press conference today, and I couldn’t help thinking since when has that stopped you? Which isn’t quite right – Jeter doesn’t  lie, he just evades the question. As is entirely his right, I should add; if you’re trying to write an interesting story Jeter’s protective caution can get frustrating, but I’ve always thought it was a smart move on his part.

He didn’t go on a rant or anything, but Jeter was more forthright today than I would have expected. The Times has the summary:

Speaking at a news conference at the Yankees’ spring training complex here to mark the completion of his new contract, Jeter said that the “thing that bothered me most” about the protracted negotiations was “how public this became.”

“The negotiations were supposed to be private,” Jeter said. Instead, he had to endure a back-and-forth between his agent, Casey Close, and the Yankees in which Jeter’s age, 36, and declining offensive numbers were batted around for all to see and comment on.

As it went on and on, it got to Jeter, who told reporters: “It was an uncomfortable position that I felt was in. It was not an enjoyable experience.”

Still, Jeter emphasized: “I had never planned on going anywhere, I didn’t want to go to any other teams. I didn’t want to hear from other teams.”

We all expected Jeter to come back, and he did, even if the process wasn’t as smooth and unruffled as we’ve come to expect of Jeter’s public actions. (I do have to wonder: if Jeter really just wanted things quiet, then as Tyler Kepner points out, why did he have his agent talk to the press?). Anyway, I expect this story will fade quickly into the background once spring training starts, and when we look back over Jeter’s career I don’t expect it to register as anything more than a tiny blip. Still, the facade came down just a little today, and that doesn’t happen often.

As an addendum, I love how the different papers and publications decided to headline this story:

MLB.com: Jeter Drama Ends With Signed Three-Year Pact

New York Times: Jeter Was ‘Uncomfortable’ During Contract Talks

New York Post: Jeter ‘Angry’ That Talks With the Yankees Were So Public


Finally, I want to add my heartfelt congratulations to the chorus I’ve already seen for friend-of-the-Banter Jay Jaffe and his mustache, who were elected to the BBWAA today. Great news for Jay, and better news for baseball fans who would like awards and Hall of Fame voting to keep getting smarter.

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1 Emma Span   ~  Dec 7, 2010 4:32 pm

I think I will take the next month off from writing about Derek Jeter now.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 4:56 pm

[1] S'cool, bcuz I'm sick of all the hype over nothing. Cliff Lee is a debatable topic worth paying attention to, the press notwithstanding.

Let me also praise Jaffe, I believe I met him briefly at the same time I met AB; the two of them are quite a pair to behold in person, like electrons dancing around an unseen proton. Congrats, sir (now don't screw up! >;)

3 Emma Span   ~  Dec 7, 2010 5:20 pm

[2] Cliff Lee is totally worth paying attention to, but his agent hasn't even started taking offers yet!


Selfish of him... won't somebody think of the bloggers?

4 Bruce Markusen   ~  Dec 7, 2010 5:23 pm

I've got no sympathy for Jeter here. He could have told his agent to keep his mouth shut, but apparently he didn't. The agent is paid by the player, not the other way around.

Also, if Jeter wasn't happy with things that were being said, he could have shown some guts and made some public statements while the negotiations were undergoing, but his obsession with flying under the radar once again took hold and he said nothing--as usual.

If you're unhappy with how you're being perceived publicly, then you should have said something about it weeks ago. Instead, he hid.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 5:49 pm

I think the Yankees took a confrontational stance from almost day one, ran to the press early, and had zero qualms with trying to embarrass him. It was like an arbitration hearing played out for public consumption. It was bizarre, and like I said before, a bit mean spirited. I don't know what the hell happened to bring this on, but the whole thing was pretty damned unseemly.

I can also see this coming back if the Yankees turn around and spend a significant amount of money on someone stupid.

6 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 7, 2010 6:08 pm

[4] I've got a little sympathy for Jeter, because despite the fact that the player is the boss, sometimes agents take things into their own hands, and say they were just "acting in their client's best interests".

The player-agent relationship is, I think, not understood well, by the players or many sportswriters. I am not surprised by this, as a lot of lawyers don't get it either (most law schools foolishly stopped teaching a specific class on agency a long time ago).

[5] "I don’t know what the hell happened to bring this on, but the whole thing was pretty damned unseemly." Perhaps Jeter's completely unreasonable salary demands, as communicated by his agent?

In any case, the contract got signed, so I don't really care about any of it. Negotiations are messy and don't always go according to one's desire (or at least, as someone who negotiates frequently, that's my experience).

Nothing to see here, move along . . .

7 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 7, 2010 6:12 pm

I heard Jeter with Sweeney and he repeated over and over that he was angry about the portrayal of the negotiations, not Brian Cashman or Randy Levine. He didn't like being portrayed as being greedy and having an ego. Jeter is upset about is not being in full control of his image. And as he ages, he won't be able to fight that. People will doubt him, they will call him old, and he's hearing that now, doubt, even scorn, for the first time, and that's what rankles him. And pretty soon, he won't be able to do what he's always done, though I don't think he's finished yet either.

I love Jeter. One of my favorite Yanks ever. But I think he does have a big ego, even though he means ego to be "conceited," I get that. He won't be able to spin his image without some turbulence at the end of a great career. But he'll bounce back from that and forever be the guarded, composed, icon of his time. I'm pretty confident in Jeter...

Aren't you? So for starters it'd be amazing if he uses his anger to squeeze out one more terrific year. Whatta ya say, Cappy?

8 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 6:18 pm

[6] If the Yankees new policy in response to "unreasonable contract demands" is to run to the press and try to embarrass him, they're going to lose out on some players.

9 Fuller R   ~  Dec 7, 2010 7:52 pm

[8] Bingo.

Also, I wonder if any current free agents, or desirable players with no-trade provisions - watched this debacle unfold. My thinking, and perhaps that of some others that actually matter, is that if the Yankee brass would try to embarrass Jeter, they'd do it in a heartbeat to anyone anytime.

10 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 7, 2010 8:45 pm

I don't believe Cashman was trying to embarrass Derek. They have both been there for 15 years, and there was no benefit to either party to act in a condescending way. I don't know what the real story was, but if Jeter even thought that asking for 5 or 6 years at $22m+ was even a reasonable bargaining point... well, that's embarrassing.

And if I were Jeter and did ask for that neighborhood, I wouldn't want it in the public either.

If he had talked to the Yankees and said "I want 4 years and $75m" this would have been settled fast. My guess is things evolved the way they did because Cashman got wind of Jeter's 'demands', and knew trouble was aboiling. Unfortunately, whether it's Torre, or Bernie, and any number of excommunicated Red Sox, these things almost always have unpleasant moments.

Cashman could have been a prick, but wasn't. Jeter got a really fair contract, all things considered, and should be greatful that the Yankees held him in such high regard. If this was Theo, Jeter would have been looking at 2/$18m.

11 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 7, 2010 9:32 pm

And also, whether or not certain officials were eager to tell the press what was going on, the press was just as eager, if not moreso, to crap all over him. Wtfe...

12 doodoobrown   ~  Dec 7, 2010 9:38 pm

Good for Jeter for being honest. Sure, this was all a negotiation, and sure it was bound to be contentious on some level. But when the Yankee front office starts leaking quotes about Jeter needing to take a reality potion and realize he's 36 not 26, that's a shitty way to treat the face of your franchise for the better part of two decades. I realize this is a business, but I think something stinks in the Yankee front office. And I'm guessing it's Randy Levine.

13 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 7, 2010 11:36 pm

[10] "Drink the reality potion"-whoever said it-was pretty damned awful.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 7, 2010 11:57 pm

[4] You'd have a point if Close kept going on and on, but he basically used one word ("baffling"), after which he was relatively quiet. Blaming Jeter for respecting the confidentiality of the negotiations really makes no sense at all. Jeter was the only one who handled himself with dignity throughout the entire process.

15 Greg G   ~  Dec 8, 2010 12:15 pm

From the get go the Yanks front office was entrenched in their position and tried the contract in the media and in the court of public opinion. They could have approached Jeter and Close and asked them first. It might have gotten messy regardless, but Steinbrenner didn't need to fire the first salvo and predict it would.

I agree with some of the pundits who said that Jeter is part of the Yankee brand and the Yanks ownership decided to damage their brand in these negotiations.

This is typical of the Yankees who have in the past treated free agents far better than their home grown players, The Yanks woo free agents and give them every last dollar, but rarely negotiate extentions with their players and it costs them when they are free agents (ex: Jeter and Bernie).

This is not to say that Jeter was not fairly compensated in his deals, but the way it was done was "baffling."

This could also impact Lee in the way he views the Yanks front office. If they are ready to play hardball with Jeter, what does that say about them? It is all together probable that Lee will go with the most lucrative offer, but all things being equal maybe he will choose a destination where the front office acts with more civility and the fans didn't spit on his wife?

16 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 8, 2010 12:28 pm

There is no civility in business.

17 Raf   ~  Dec 8, 2010 12:51 pm

[8] There were a lot of people who took Steinbrenners money in the 70's and 80's, and I'm pretty sure he did a lot worse than to tell someone to "drink the reality potion."

Personally, I think the only reason more high profile free agents didn't sign with the Yankees during the 80's was collusion.

18 Raf   ~  Dec 8, 2010 12:54 pm

[9] Jeter hasn't had nearly the storm surrounding him as, say, Dave Winfield.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver