Derek Jeter is a human being. That seems to be the lesson derived from the New York Post’s preview of Ian O’Connor’s forthcoming book about Jeter, which will focus on the Captain’s relationship with Alex Rodriguez.
Weaving Arod into the narrative has almost become a prerequisite for publishing a baseball book, so it’s not surprising that O’Connor would go that route. What is difficult to understand, however, is why so many people seem to be regarding the excerpts as groundbreaking news.
Just about anyone who has followed the Yankees over the past 10 years is well aware of the icy relationship that existed between the two superstars for most of the past decade, so O’Connor’s initial revelations hardly qualify as news. Although the quotes attributed to Brian Cashman aren’t part of the record, most of the other details have been widely reported and discussed.
A common reaction to the New York Post’s predictably sensational presentation of the excerpts has gone something like this: “You see…Jeter isn’t perfect. What’s more, he has been a bad leader all along.” Considering the piling on that the Captain has endured since showing the first signs of succumbing to age, that reaction has pretty much been par for the course. However, that doesn’t give the book’s author, or its readers, a license for hypocrisy.
In a blog post for Newsday, Ken Davidoff epitomizes the hypocrisy that has defined so many people’s reaction when he writes, “The book will help fans get a better read on the real Jeter, as opposed to the myth that has been manufactured throughout the years and to which Jeter happily agreed to spread.”
With all due respect to Davidoff (an excellent beat writer who is only being singled out because he perfectly articulated the sentiment), Jeter can present an image, but it’s really the media that spreads it. When the Yankees’ shortstop was on top of his game, the beat writers and columnists alike had no problem portraying Jeter as the pinnacle of perfection, citing his intangibles and leadership qualities as evidence of what made him a truly winning player. Now, all of a sudden, some of those same scribes are spreading word that Jeter’s image may have just been a façade? Someone is being naïve here.
Ironically, O’Connor’s book seems to “humanize” Jeter by turning Alex Rodriguez into a sympathetic figure who was forced to endure the shortstop’s scorn. In addition to being an over dramatization of the adult relationship between two men, that juxtaposition makes O’Connor the biggest hypocrite of them all. After all, only two years ago, O’Connor infamously wrote a scathing diatribe blaming Arod for all of the Yankees’ ills.
In an article entitled “Better Off Without Arod”?, which has since been deleted from the Bergen Record website but preserved by River Avenue Blues, O’Connor clearly implied that Arod was the only thing holding the Yankees back from winning another World Series. Based on that harsh assessment, could you really blame Jeter for holding such a grudge? Unless he is also willing to repudiate his own poor judgment (which Arod already took care of in the 2009 post season), it would be disingenuous for O’Connor to imply any criticism toward Jeter for harboring similar feelings about Rodriguez.
O’Connor has made a name for himself by fanning flames, so his hypocrisy can be dismissed. However, the thousands of fans who took great pleasure in booing Arod don’t deserve the same latitude. In reality, Jeter’s lack of acceptance was the least of Rodriguez’ problems when he joined the Yankees. Rather, what likely stunted his acclimation was the lack of acceptance from a large part of the fan base. If not for all the boos and blame, Jeter wouldn’t have needed to stick up for Arod. So, if any fan out there wants to blame someone for mistreating Arod, they’d better start by looking in the mirror.