Earlier today in Tampa, the Yankees held a press conference to officially announce Derek Jeter's new contract. I know what you're thinking--the Yankees and Jeter were discussing a new contract? I was shocked to find out as well. I have to give both parties credit. They handled it so quietly and professionally. Then again, what else do you expect out of the New York Yankees.
What's that you say? The contract negotiations were a veritable bloodbath? Thinly veiled insults were hurled at each other via their media counterparts? And I spent countless hours writing about it? I'm afraid I don't know...Oh. Derek Jeter. I thought you were talking about Derrek Lee. My bad.
I've read the press conference highlights, and they're pretty boring for the most part. Derek Jeter did have one rather tasty quote regarding the negotiations:
“The thing that probably bothered me the most was how public this became. … It was not an enjoyable experience. … I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t angry about how some of this went.”Everyone knows what it's like to find out a close friend or family member (one that you've been a champion for) is talking about you behind your back. It happens to everyone at least once in their life. It really sucks, and it can take a while to finally get over.
Now, imagine yourself in this same scenario only instead of it being a friend or family member that's making inappropriate (and possibly false) remarks about you, it's your employer. And instead of them talking about you behind your back, they're airing their complaints out in the media where anyone can read or hear about it. Can you imagine how hurt you would feel? That's what Derek Jeter is feeling right now.
I'm not saying the Jeter/Close camp was perfect in this situation. They weren't, and at times they seemed a little delusional. That said, they never said anything that could be construed as an insult at the Yankees. Did they call the Yankees contract offer "baffling?" Sure, but they never questioned the Yankees ability to run their franchise.
The Yankees, on the other hand, leaked insults like "(Jeter) needs to drink the reality potion." While this was great fodder for the back pages and blogosphere, it was unnecessary. It was hurtful. Yankee leadership (the Steinbrenners, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman) should have done more to stop the leaked reports. While it's possible they dealt with these leaks behind closed doors, they should have done so publicly. The fact they didn't publicly admonish the leaks does make me question whether the Yankees are as classy as they try to appear.
Eventually, the bridge between the Yankees and Jeter will be repaired, but it's going to take some time. Jeter has a lot of hurt feelings he has to sort through. I don't think this will affect the manner in which he carries himself as the face of the franchise. That said, I don't expect him to go above and beyond to protect it either.