Photo Credit: Twitter @MLBPipeline

ESPN’s “The Captain” wrapped its deep dive on legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Thursday, putting a cap on the storied career of a storied man.

The series didn’t unveil much we didn’t already know. Jeter has a winning attitude. He expects those around him to have the same high standards he sets for himself. The Yankees dynasties of the 1990s were built around his philosophy that winning always comes first.

There were also, of course, the usual hits: His hot and cold relationship with Alex Rodriguez and the endless tabloid speculation about his private life. All of which he saw as a distraction from winning.

But as we discussed last week, we finally started to get a look at Jeter the man in the latter half of the series. Not just the baseball player. In the finale, this is no different.

The main takeaway is simple. Even in retirement, Jeter is largely the same kind of celebrity. The public eye only reveals so much and he still largely keeps to himself, prioritizing his and his family’s privacy. His circle of friends is still a small one, but not small enough that Michael Jordan isn’t a part of it.

And yet, that’s probably what makes the finale of “The Captain” the best in the series. It’s because we finally see a piece of Jeter just being himself at home with his wife and children. Talking business, baseball, and the press conference window dressing is replaced with his oldest daughter, Bella, painting his face. Later, a quick shot shows the man in full dad-mode, reading his girls a book.

We also get a look at just how hard pregnancy was for Jeter’s wife, Hannah, who spares no details. She almost died from complications following Bella’s birth, and second daughter Story was born via emergency C-section at 31 weeks. Families experience this daily, sure, but not in the midst of buying the Marlins.

Speaking of, the experience of owning the Marlins was once again Jeter on full display. The team’s record aside, he transformed the franchise from the inside out. Miami still loses, but is no longer an ongoing circus and actually has tools in place to win in the future. And all because of Jeter’s work as CEO.

“You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose,” he says in an interview with Bryant Gumbel, putting to bed the Marlins’ forever-losing approach.

And even though things didn’t work out with owning the Marlins, Jeter has no regrets because his work there still lives on. It was just a difference in philosophy on the baseball side and he knows himself well. He wasn’t going to be the face of a vision he didn’t support.

All in all, Jeter now hasn’t changed much from the player we knew 20 years ago, but that quiet intensity certainly has. He’s older, wiser, and understands losing isn’t the end of the world. He’s even mellowed out enough that, in a closing surprise, he leaves the door open for reconciling with Alex Rodriguez.

“My perspective and outlook, now, has changed because you’re having a family. You go through experiences and life and you learn. We’ll sit down, and talk, and put it to bed,” he says.

Hannah agrees, albeit “with the cameras off.”

His life’s various soap operas aside, Jeter is a winner and will always be one in the eyes of the fans. You can’t think of Yankees baseball and not think of him. Whatever his next chapter is, he’s ready to take the bull by the horns and win again.

“It’s been a hell of a ride, man,” he says in closing. “And it’s not over.”

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episodes 3-4
Episodes 5-6
Episode 7

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.