Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Can Jeter ever really forgive and forget?

Derek Jeter finally got a chance to strike back at the Evil Empire and he took it. Sort of.

At the press conference officially announcing his new deal, the captain of the New York Yankees made no attempt to hide the fact that he is extremely unhappy with the way he was portrayed during the protracted contract negotiations. Jeter expressed dismay that he was made to seem greedy, arrogant and egotistical, even as he was refusing to consider offers from other baseball teams so he could remain with the empire he’s been a part of his whole adult life.

Jeter is normally completely guarded with his emotions and the fact that he even admitted to being angry and frustrated with the way he was portrayed was striking. Of course, Jeter didn't point any fingers because he has way too much class to do that. But he prides himself on keeping things out of the media and it was crystal clear who he was referring to when he talked about how the negotiations were supposed to be private and how bothered he was that they weren’t and by the inaccurate characterizations of his position, which came from the Yankees leaking to their media pals.

He took several very subtle digs at the Yankees, including noting that this was the first time they ever held a press conference to announce a new contract for him, which actually is pretty remarkable considering he's been with the organization for about 18 years. The Yankees wisely did not fire back. Perhaps they understand their role in making this dispute so ugly and chose to give Jeter a chance to vent.

Jeter used the charm-and-disarm technique at times to minimize his anger; jokily blaming WFAN reporter Sweeney Murti for the dispute and claiming the Yankees are now “one big, happy family.” But there’s no question that Jeter was hurt by the way the Yankees treated him, which raises the question of whether he can ever truly forgive and forget. Perhaps with the passage of time, but I seriously doubt it.

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