I’ve been trying to avoid this ever since I got a review copy in the mail of The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor. (I hate just about any book about an athlete with “journey’ or “quest” or “trials” in the title.) I read or skimmed about half the book and didn’t particularly like it or think it remarkable in any way. And yet, it’s one of the dominant topics in the New York sports media. I guess I was naive to think that anything about Derek Jeter wasn’t going to be hot stuff.
But I’ll say this one time: it doesn’t deserve to be. In Friday’s Daily News Bob Raissman quotes Yankees GM Brian Cashman talking to ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian. “I’m sure it’s a great book. Ian O’Connor is a great writer, but we’ve been all over this stuff.”
O’Connor is not a great writer and this is not a great book, but Cashman’s batting average was a league-leading .333: we have been all over this stuff.
Most of the alleged controversy sounds as if it was started and promoted by ESPN to make it seem as if there was something hot in The Captain. There isn’t. For instance, the supposedly “rocky relationship” between Jeter and A-Rod turns out to be quite tame. In fact, it appears that Jeter reached out to A-Rod after the overblown steroids incident. Read an excerpt from the book on ESPN.
It also appears that during salary negotiations with Jeter, Cashman asked him to do a little more nice-nice with Alex’s fragile ego. Jeter, apparently complied. Good for him.
As for the other controversy that the relationship between Cashman and Jeter might be “irreparably harmed,” who cares? Does this mean that when his current contract is up the Yankees might not sign Jeter for another three years, when he’s forty? Once you’ve gotten the contract you wanted, what difference does it make whether or not you and your general manager are friends? That issue is well handled in a thoughtful discussion by Skip Bayless and Doug Stewart on ESPN’s First Take.
Stewart astutely points out that in trying to limit a player’s – any player — salary demands down, Cashman was “just doing his job.” And he was right in telling the aging shortstop “We need you to get better.”
Please, everyone, read the excerpts on ESPN and let’s get these non-controversies out of the way so we can move on to ignoring this book. And let’s have Jeter, who answered questions but did not grant O’Connor interviews while he was writing the book, have the last word: “My career is not over.” Bingo. Let’s save the tomes for when he retires.