The fifth and sixth installments of ESPN’s Derek Jeter docuseries “The Captain” covered the latter half of the Hall of Fame shortstops career.
Two hours later, it was hard to not feel at least a little bit underwhelmed since the show once again covered subjects most people, at least us Yankees folk, already knew. Yet, not all was lost as we finally saw a real piece of the legend’s own humanity.
For example, we all know Derek Jeter deserved to win the 2006 AL MVP trophy over Minnesota’s Justin Morneau. However, we now saw The Post’s Joel Sherman implied he voted for Morneau. Why? Because the Yankee captain didn’t put his arm around Alex Rodriguez and end the drama with his teammate once and for all.
Looking at how close the vote was, Sherman easily could have cost Jeter his last real chance at being an MVP.
#YankeesTwitter, of course, reacted accordingly:
Joel Sherman said Jeter didn’t win an MVP because he wasn’t ARod’s best friend
This dude is such trash man
— Barry (Aaron Judge enjoyer) (@YanksBar) August 5, 2022
Joel Sherman not voting for Derek Jeter for MVP in ‘06 because he didn’t embrace A-Rod enough Is incredible. How much of a loser can you be?
— Treyski (@WizzyWonka) August 5, 2022
Did Joel Sherman basically just admit to Jeter not getting AL MVP in 2006 because he didn’t protect A-Rod???
— yankees in 4 #RE2PECT (@re2pectallrise) August 5, 2022
But what we learned in the aftermath makes complete sense: Jeter let Rodriguez be because satisfying the press was just another distraction from winning.
This viewpoint applies to every Jeter tabloid story. The gift baskets were highly exaggerated. So much that Jeter claims a random fan approached him in a Starbucks to brag how the star shortstop inspired to send dates home with them.
Jeter’s response: “You’re an idiot.”
Because this was more than just bothering the notoriously private man in public. It was another thing for him to worry about that wasn’t helping the Yankees win. It makes one realize just how much Derek Jeter must have appreciated winning the 2009 World Series.
Speaking of, it was surprising to see how much of a footnote 2009 was in the grand scheme. Episode 5 begins with the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad 2004 ALCS. There’s more A-Rod drama. The Yankees aren’t really a team anymore because, as Gary Sheffield noted, some always felt like outsiders from the Core Four. Don’t forget the soap opera over Jeter potentially switching positions.
And yet, the perfect combination of free agency, trades, and a desire to win let the Core Four stand tall one more time in 2009.
All this to say, perhaps Derek Jeter is human after all. It took until well into the latter half of Episode 6, but fans now have an idea of Derek Jeter the man. Not just the Hall of Fame baseball player.
We can now understand how infuriating his free agency negotiations after 2010 were. No matter how Brian Cashman spins it, the Yankees have rarely treated their aging veterans well. Just ask Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada, both of whom were unceremoniously pushed out as they declined. Or Brett Gardner, who’s still waiting for a call.
The fact is despite his godlike status in baseball, Jeter is still human. He has emotions and feelings, some of which he kept to himself for the sake of not being a distraction. We saw the anger from free agency negotiations morph. The borderline depression while recovering from a broken ankle, as detailed by his wife Hannah.
Six episodes later, and “The Captain” finally seems to have delivered as advertised. We long knew about Jeter the baseball player. Now, after a two-hour collage of slices of life as opposed to a fluid story, we know a little bit more about Derek Jeter the man.
And next week, as the series closes with what will certainly be Jeter’s retirement tour, perhaps it will all come full circle.
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