Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ice beginning to melt for Jeter and Yankees?

So 48 hours have passed without remotely negative comments being made by the New York Yankees about their shortstop Derek Jeter. In the context of their so-far chilly negotiations, that represents real progress toward repairing their relationship.

After Tuesday's marathon meeting between the Yankees and the Jeter camp, the two sides do not appear to have made any substantive progress toward a deal. But perhaps they agreed to not fight a media war, perhaps the Yankees agreed to stop portraying their captain as a greedy ballplayer. If that's the case, I think it boosts the chances of actually getting a deal done.

But a deal is still unlikely as long as the Yankees remain intractable about their estimation of Jeter's worth. I can't see Jeter accepting the Yankees current offer even if they add a couple of million dollars to it. What Jeter probably wants to see is Brian Cashman and the Steinbrenners acknowledge that his value goes beyond just his on-field performance, something the Yankees have been unwilling to do so far.

Even David Paterson, the outgoing governor of New York and a die-hard sports fan, was perplexed by the Yankees approach (anyone who missed Paterson’s co-hosting gig on the Mike Francesa show yesterday should check out the highlights on the WFAN as it was truly a great day of politics and sports talk).

“Damaging Jeter is damaging the Yankees brand,” Paterson said.

Even though the Yankees are winning the media war, I hope they realize that Paterson’s take on the situation is dead-on, that the long-term damage they are causing to their brand by attacking their iconic shortstop is more important than being right about Jeter’s worth. If that helps melt the ice between the two sides and bring them closer to a deal, that would be the best outcome for everyone.

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