Derek Jeter realized Alex Rodriguez wasn’t a “true friend” after the latter’s infamous interview with Esquire in 2001.
That’s according to Jeter himself, who spoke about the incident in “The Captain,” a seven-part documentary series that debuted on ESPN on July 18 after the Home Run Derby.
Once upon a time, Jeter and A. Rudd became teammates, but their intertwined saga began years ago.
Star Shortstops Born for about a year, Jeter and A-Rod formed a friendship that was constantly covered in both the press and during matches whenever the Yankees played for the Mariners in the mid-to-late ’90s.
The bromance was so deep that they slept in each other’s homes when their teams played with each other. There was until the infamous moment in 2000, when their teams brawled over the bench, and Jeter and A Rod’s honesty amidst the scrap was enough to fester Jeter’s fiery teammate, Chad Curtis.
In the end, Tajur appeared, with Jeter becoming a massive star as the Yankees won the World Championship four times in five years. Then there was A-Rod, whose flashy stats led him to take a 10-year, $252 million contract from the Texas Rangers, an astonishing record contract at the time.
There was constant chatter comparing and contradicting each other’s accomplishments, and it became something of an argument about faith versus reason as blatant believers in intangible assets would choose Jeter and religious statisticians were sure A-Rod was much better.
Then came the story of Esquire.
“We were able to convince Esquire Magazine that this would be a good story,” author Scott Raab said in the documentary. “We had the opportunity not only to write about a player, but also about an agent in Scott Borras who was considered by many to be the devil.”
The interview took place for two hours, during a Heat game in Miami. The juices of competitive rap were flowing, as he spotted a writer from competing GQ magazine also in town to write the A-Rod story. Rapper went to the interview trying to learn more about A-Rod; He said he didn’t get into it expecting the star to say “something that would upset Derek Jeter.”
“I ran into the guy, and I said I’m going to destroy you. Are we competing for the same story? Don’t Even Care,” Rapp recalls.
The interview tape has survived to this day, revealing the context of A-Rod’s rap question about the friendship/rivalry between the two short stations.
“No, there’s no rivalry at all. Not even I mean rivalry? Like, we have such a brotherhood that there’s definitely no rivalry there. And that’s weird, because even with my brother [we] “A little bit of competition,” Rodriguez said. “But with Derek, I’m his biggest fan and I think it’s the other way around.”
Then Rap asked A-Rod what he thought of Jeter.
“He’s discreet and calm. Jeter is blessed with a lot of talent around him. So he never has to drive. He doesn’t have to do that, he can just go and play and have fun, and get to second. I mean, you know, hitting second is completely different. About getting third or fourth in the lineup because you go to New York to try to stop Bernie [Williams] And the [Paul] O’Neill and all. You never say, “Don’t let Derek hit you.” This is not your concern.”
Rapp immediately knew he had his ammunition to tear down the importance of the GQ profile.
“I knew especially when I transcribed those tapes, that those quotes were gold,” he recalls.
More than two decades later, Jeter still doesn’t seem to have completely rocked the pronouncements.
“Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very loyal,” Jeter said. “As a friend, I’m loyal. I just looked at it like I wasn’t going to do it. And then it was the media. The constant hammer on the nail. They kept hammering it. It turned into noise, which frustrated me. Just constant noise.”
“When that came out, I felt bad about it,” A-Rod said. “I saw the way it was going. The way it was written, I said exactly what I said. It was a comment I’m standing behind today. It was a complete tsunami. They were one of the greatest teams ever. Saying you don’t have to focus on one player is the way it was written. Only it’s totally fair. By the way, the same can be said about my team with the sailors. We had Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez and Jay Boehner. If someone said that about me, I’d be like, ‘No s—t. definitely. You better not just worry about me.”
However, Rodriguez apologized to Jeter at the time.
Jeter was inclined to accept that—except that A-Rod did a similar interview with Dan Patrick, in which the radio presenter told Jeter something poignant, “There’s not a single thing he does better than me.”
Jeter thought A-Rod was “downplaying” him to justify his popular contract.
“In my opinion, he got his contract, so you’re trying to belittle what I’m doing, maybe to justify why you got paid. When you talk about stats, you can never compare me to Alex’s stats. I’m not blind. I understand. But we won! You can say whatever you want.” About me as a player, said Jeter.
But then it comes down to trust and loyalty. This is what a man feels. He’s not a true friend, I felt. Because I wouldn’t do that with a friend.”
Jeter explained that he received advice from his father who grew up having many acquaintances, but kept his inner circle of friendship very narrow. Therefore, Jeter concluded that he would have no problem excluding people from his life if he felt really wronged.
Rapp claimed to have faxed Jeter at Spring Training Yankees, seeking to clear everything up, and explained that Rodriguez had also said great things about him while they were seated, but Jeter does not remember receiving it. Anyway, he didn’t have the mindset that the fax was going to do anything to repair the damage.
A-Rod, for his part, realized that this was the end of their camaraderie, and did a psychoanalytic as to why he was wrong at the time.
“From that moment on,” he said, “it’s never been the same again.” “I think it really is [my] Not understanding the way things work. In many ways, my dad would leave when I was 10, and not getting that homeschooling – hard blows, tough love – led to insecurity and some self-esteem issues. As I got older, I realized, all you have to do is just be myself.”
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