Derek Jeter’s in-studio “KayRod” appearance with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez had its awkward moments. And there was certainly tension in the air. But – if you take them at their word – the two Yankees greats have reached détente.
“You move on. You learn. Things happen in life,” Jeter said during the ESPN2 alternative broadcast of the Bombers’ loss to the Red Sox on Sunday night. “I’ve gone through personal things, lost one of my best friends in (former Yankees outfielder) Gerald Williams. And you realize life is short. You don’t hold grudges anymore and you move on.”
Jeter’s guest appearance came after his “The Captain” documentary series wrapped up last week. And a few weeks after they had a summit to clear the air – Rodriguez said he had “a lot of cocktails.”
The series spent a significant amount of time focusing on the relationship between Jeter and Rodriguez – their strong friendship as young players, their falling out after Rodriguez’s infamous GQ interview in 2001, their uneasy alliance as teammates later in life. The decision to spend so much time on their relationship felt three-fold.
One, it is arguably the most compelling narrative thread for a guy (Jeter) who is just not as compelling as Tom Brady or Michael Jordan when it comes to carrying a documentary series.
Two, it did feel like Jeter wanted to twist the knife a bit. Nowhere near as much as Jordan did with a litany of enemies in “The Last Dance,” but he still felt a need to spike the football.
And three, Rodriguez seems to have sincere regret. And he is clearly eager to take whatever medicine he must to fix things.
If you believe Jeter and Rodriguez, they have buried the hatchet. Or put as much dirt over it as is possible. Which brings us to another big question: Will clearing this hurdle put Rodriguez on a path for Monument Park?
Rodriguez has a lot of baggage. The Jeter stuff, steroids, the suspension, contract standoffs and plenty of other dust-ups and feuds. But he’s also one of the greatest players in history, his name is up and down the Yankees record books and he helped them win their only World Series in the last two decades. And he has undergone a remarkable reputation revitalization in recent years.
It is unlikely Rodriguez will ever be voted into the Hall of Fame. And it’s hard to imagine the Yankees will retire his number. But a plaque in Monument Park — and a standing invitation to attend Old Timer’s Day — feels like a suitable honor. And the only tangible honor Rodriguez has any chance to receive in the short term.
It will be interesting to see if his reconciliation with Jeter helps make it happen sooner rather than later. To be clear: Rodriguez’s friendship, or lack thereof, is not keeping him out. But it certainly wasn’t helping his cause. Maybe that can change now?
Time heals all wounds. Plus Rodriguez was a seven-time All-Star in pinstripes, winning three Silver Slugger and two MVP awards and a world title. He deserves something.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]