Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jeter bio humanizes Yankee Captain

Ian O' Connor said he wanted to humanize Derek Jeter in writing his now famous Jeter biography The Captain. I would say he succeeded, at least partially.

The book is a mostly positive recap of Jeter's career, much of it pretty well known. But there are some interesting and insightful tidbits mixed in about Jeter and his relationships with friends, family and fellow members of the New York Yankees. I'm going to cover some of them in the next few blog posts.

I found the first chapter to be one of the best chapters in the book because it delves into great detail about Jeter’s family, particularly his father Charles Jeter and grandfather Sonny Connors. It was mostly from Connors that Jeter developed his unimpeachable work ethic. But it was from his dad that Jeter got his baseball skills and I couldn’t help but wonder if Charles Jeter would have been the first big-league baseball player in the family if he hadn’t faced so many racial and other obstacles.

It was pretty funny to read that Jeter's obsession with Mariah Carey – and the book makes it clear it was an obsession – went even deeper than we realized with numerous former high school and minor league teammates recounting Jeter's plans to marry the singer and constant tuning in to her tunes. I'm sure Minka Kelly, Jeter's current girlfriend and the woman expected to be crowned princess of New York to Jeter's prince, is thrilled by these revelations.

But the book makes clear that Jeter can be quite cold, distrustful and quick to freeze people out of his life for any reason. Of course, we knew something about this from his falling out with Alex Rodriguez over the infamous Esquire article. But that was understandable considering his then-pal publicly dissed him. What I found most revealing is that Jeter reserved the same treatment for friends or teammates that he felt slighted him in much smaller and less public ways. One of the most insightful quotes in the book comes from Jeter’s former minor league teammate R.D. Long who says he still senses Jeter’s distrust despite their long friendship. I bet that quote is going to earn him a one-way ticket to Jeter’s doghouse.

The major hole in the narrative comes from O' Connor's inability to secure the cooperation of Jeter and other key figures in the book such as Alex Rodriguez and Joe Torre. I would have loved to get ARod's response to O' Connor's contention that ARod was happy about the nasty contract negotiations between Jeter and the Yankees. Likewise, I would have appreciated hearing Torre’s response to getting caught in a lie when Brian Cashman realized that the then-Yankees manager never approached Jeter about a possible position change even though Torre told Cashman that Jeter wanted to stay put. I have to give O' Connor a pass on not getting Jeter's views on these and other topics because even if Jeter had agreed to the lengthy sit-down that the writer asked for, there's no way he would have reignited the Jeter/ARod cold war or ever say a bad word about the man he viewed as his baseball father.

No comments:

Post a Comment