Is there anything bad to be said about Derek Jeter? If so, we've never heard much about it. Ever since his 1995 debut in the major leagues, the Yankee shortstop has been the recipient or more or less nonstop good press. And it's not just his 11 All-Star elections, five American League Gold Gloves, and overall reputation as one of the greatest baseball players of his generation.
It's more that everyone – opponents included – seems to agree that Jeter is both a gentleman and a class act.
But now a new biography – "The Captain" by ESPN columnist Ian O'Connor – is due for release next month. And some are speculating that a few of the book's revelations may put a dent or two in Jeter's reputation.
"Jeter put A-Rod in the Yankees' 'snubhouse,'" read a New York Post headline this weekend. The piece goes on to quote from the upcoming book, implying that Jeter is at least somewhat to blame for the strained relationship with his teammate Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"Jeter's unyielding insistence on loyalty and his dislike for A-Rod during the third baseman's early years in pinstripes was so legendary that one Yankee official admitted he was too scared to talk to Jeter about making amends with his teammate," said the piece in the Post.
Jeter fans have always been quick to blame A-Rod for the rift between the two men who were once the closest of friends. In a 2001 Esquire interview A-Rod made light of Jeter's achievements, saying, “Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him,” and “He’s never had to lead." The Post piece suggests that Jeter, unable to forgive the remarks, has held a grudge.
According to ESPN, the book also details some difficult moments between Jeter and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman – a relationship that the book apparently suggests was damaged or even destroyed by last year's difficult contract negotiations.
However, the ESPN piece also repeats a personal assessment Cashman once made of the Yankee captain: "If you had a daughter," Cashman is reported to have said in the book, "you'd want her to marry Derek Jeter. He's a great person."
Now that sounds more like the Jeter we're accustomed to hearing about.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.