The Jeter Book

Books, Free Agents, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

I’m not getting into a detailed analysis of something I haven’t read, but you have to understand that the new book by Ian O’Connor about Derek Jeter had to have a little more spice than the St. Derek image of consummate professional, winner and champion on the field/bon vivant, model and actress-dating playboy off the field to sell more than the perfunctory amount of copies that generally occur for a star biography.

“The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter” is discussed in this ESPN.com piece.

That the title sounds like a biblical tome more than a book about a baseball player might be a bigger aspect of the portable prison in which he resides than many realize.

Some of the headline-grabbing revelations suggest a continuing rift between Jeter and GM Brian Cashman after the contentious contract negotiations from last winter; that Alex Rodriguez and Jeter’s turf war escalated to crisis levels; and, unbeknownst to Cashman, former Yankees manager Joe Torre was his usual Machiavellian self in taking the side of Jeter rather than his GM and A-Rod.

Controversy sells. What’s been leaked by the publicists to the websites and newspapers (they work hand-in-hand you know) is designed to create a buzz that wouldn’t exist if this were simply the typical “play hard, respect your parents and your elders, keep true to your word and things will work out in whatever endeavor you choose” we’ve come to expect in any written piece about Jeter.

After the book is released and the context is fully revealed perhaps it can be a retrospective positive for Jeter and will free him from the shackles of being “Derek Jeter” the character—the public face that was the catalyst for the uproar last season when he was lambasted for “cheating” when he acted as if he’d gotten hit by a pitch against the Rays when he hadn’t.

The expectations for Jeter have become so stifling that he can’t jaywalk without it becoming a media circus.

If the book allows him to be Derek the man and forces the participants to hash out their differences, they’ll thank O’Connor for writing it. Jeter is admirable and flawed. His caricature is such that no one, nowhere could possibly live up to it. He’s in a cage. Maybe O’Connor’s book will—unintentionally—be his key to act like a person rather than an untouchable, deified idol.

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