What happened to MY Derek Jeter?
I don't know THIS Derek Jeter. The one I dealt with up close and personal was a delight for teammates, fans, reporters -- everybody. That's because he always looked you straight in the eyes when answering a question, and he never heard of the word "condescending," and he was pretty much perfect.
This Derek Jeter?
I haven't a clue about him.
As a matter of fact, this Derek Jeter hasn't a clue. You'll see as much Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on HBO when Bryant Gumbel exposes the guy on his latest "Real Sports" show as an accomplished baseball player for two decades with the New York Yankees turned atrocious baseball executive after several months with the Miami Marlins.
Of the 254 errors Jeter made at shortstop during his Major League career, none resembled what was the most boneheaded move of his otherwise charmed life of 43 years. That move was that he thought he could run a baseball team. He can't. He stinks at it, and I don't even know where to start.
Well, how about at the beginning?
(1) The first thing Jeter did before the ink dried on his Marlins contract was whack long-time team advisors Jack McKeon, who managed the franchise to a World Series title, former Marlins standout Jeff Conine and Baseball Hall of Famers Tony Perez and Andre Dawson. When the screaming from South Beach and beyond convinced Jeter that he blew it, he made things worse by offering each member of the quartet a reduced role in the franchise and a cut in salary by 75 percent.
They all said no. In contrast, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna were the Marlins best players in recent years, but they hadn't the choice of whether to stay or to go. Just like that, Jeter dealt them away to save a few bucks while turning Miami into a glorified Triple-A team.
(2) Instead of Jeter attending the Baseball Winter Meetings to search for much needed talent for the Marlins, he went to the Monday Night Football Game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.
Um, not a good look.
(3) Despite the way Jeter used to produce sunrays through the thickest of clouds as the Yankee captain, he wasn't exactly Mr. warmth to a slew of confused Miami fans during a town hall meeting in December at Marlins Park. When one person said he didn't get a reply to an email he sent to Jeter, the Marlins boss didn't care about that old saying of business people that goes "The customer is always right," and he responded, "You don't have my email address."
(5) The franchise's biggest fan is called Marlins Man, and his real name is Laurence Leavy, a season-ticket holder for 24 years. Even though he said he'd forget his disgust over the implosion of the team by paying a slight discount of $200,000 for those four tickets for three years, Jeter and his people rejected his offer. They've tried to negotiate a larger amount, but Marlins Man has refused.
Now comes this Gumbel mess for Jeter. According to various news reports, part of the conversation for Tuesday's show goes like this between the two . . .
BRYANT GUMBEL: “If you were tanking, would you tell me?”
DEREK JETER: “Tanking? What is– no– tanking?”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “Tanking is — not trying your hardest to win ball games in — every day.”
DEREK JETER: “We’re trying to win ball games every day.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “If you trade your best players in exchange for prospects it’s unlikely you’re going to win more games in the immediate future–”
DEREK JETER: “When you take the field, you have an opportunity to win each and every day. Each and every day. You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “Not in so–”
DEREK JETER: “Now, you can think — now– now, I can’t tell you how you think. Like, I see your mind. I see that’s how you think. I don’t think like that. That’s your mind working like that.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I get that. But I guess not in so many words–”
DEREK JETER: “But you don’t. But you don’t get it.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “I do.”
DEREK JETER: “You don’t. We have two different mi– I can’t wait to get you on the golf course, man. We got– I mean, I can’t wait for this one.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I mean–”
DEREK JETER: “You’re mentally weak.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “No, I just– I’m– I’m realistic. You really expect this team–”
DEREK JETER: “I expect this team to–”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “–as presently configured to contend–”
DEREK JETER: “–compete, to compete. To compete–”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “Compete is one thing–”
DEREK JETER: “Every sing–”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “Watch my lips. Not compete.”
DEREK JETER: “I see your–”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “Contend.”
DEREK JETER: “I see your lips. I see. I’ve been seeing ’em this whole interview. I see your lips moving constantly. You’d never tell your players that you are expected to lose. You don’t do that. You should take that as a slap in the face as a player. You should take that as a slap in the face.”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “You expect them to contend?”
DEREK JETER: “I do. I do. If I don’t believe with the– in the players that we have on the field, who’s going to believe in them?”
BRYANT GUMBEL: “But as an executive, it looks like you’re delusional if you believe otherwise–”
DEREK JETER: “Well, call me delusional.”
Derek Jeter is delusional.
OK, this one is, but the other one wasn't.