Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book provides backstory on nasty Jeter talks

I have to admit to being surprised by the level of vitriol thrown at Derek Jeter by members of the New York Yankees hierarchy during the last round of contract negotiations. I had mistakenly believed that Jeter and the Yankees would be able to resolve any differences quickly and quietly. Ian O’ Connor’s biography of Jeter gives some interesting context as to why the relationship deteriorated so thoroughly.

O' Connor’s book covers how a young Jeter asked George Steinbrenner through an intermediary to give him a five-year contract in early 1998. But Steinbrenner refused, telling Jeter that he did not want to take advantage of his young star, who was going to make much more money by waiting a few years. Steinbrenner probably regretted not taking Jeter up on the offer as he eventually had to spend $189 million to retain Jeter's services after the monster contract Alex Rodriguez received from the Texas Rangers.

But O'Connor makes it clear that the Yankees were unhappy that they were not rewarded for Steinbrenner's magnanimous gesture or their willingness to renew Jeter's early contracts at a higher value than they were obligated to during those negotiations. Brian Cashman in particular was peeved that the Yankees were not deemed eligible for a hometown discount despite their early gratitude, which explains his firm, but clumsy wielding of the hammer during Jeter's most recent contract talks.

The scars from the fight between Jeter and the Yankees are still visible, particularly in the Yankees’ anger over Jeter’s failure to defend the organization and criticize Jorge Posada over his recent antics. And as the book firmly established Jeter’s cold, unforgiving nature, it seems those scars will never be truly healed.

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