The Yankees-Derek Jeter soap opera came to an end over the weekend. Congratulations to the Yankee captain for emerging victorious over his team's front office aka "the chumps".
Am I being a bit harsh? Well, I love my team and have no real beef with the Steinbrenner scions--actually, I like the delightful blowhard older brother Hank--but I can't get behind a bunch of guys who decide to fold when their hand is a royal flush. This may be the first time I've ever taken the side of a team over that of a player and boy was I disappointed. It seems as if baseball team owners can never do the right thing even when it all lines up in their favor.
Derek Jeter's contract with the team ended the day after the end of this year's World Series. The Yankees initially offered Jeter the more than fair 3 yr/$15m per. Considering he's not worth more than $8m tops in the current market, the other $7m could be construed as compensation for being a Yankee icon and services rendered. (He was already paid handsomely for the latter but let's move on.)
So, what do the Yankees do? With about 70% of Yankee fans agreeing with their offer (which surprised the hell out of me; I thought the knuckleheads/give-Jeter-a-blank-check crowd would come out in massive numbers and mount a full court defense of the Yankee shortstop), the front office knowing full well there was a very slim Jeter would leave the Bronx, and that NO OTHER TEAMS would meet his financial demands, they played hardball. For a minute.
What they eventually did was bid against themselves and up the offer to $17m per and add a 4th year player option! Ugh. By overpaying Jeter even more and still not appeasing those who worship at his altar, the front office failed. Twice. Good grief!
This past week, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, arguably Derek Jeter's no.1 fan/colleague (he wears no.2 on his uniform in honor of the Yankee icon) got a brand new 6 yr/$20m per contract extension. That the 36 year old Jeter is gonna get paid $3m/yr less than an All-Star SS 10 yrs his junior says everything one needs to know about the Yankees' negotiation skills.
There are those who have said--among them Mets and Yankee great Darryl Strawberry--that The Boss must've been rolling in his grave over the handling of Jeter's contract. (Btw, those folks who feel Jeter was disrespected during the current contract negotiations should give Bernie Williams a call.) How in the world is overpaying someone disrespectful? The Jeter hero worship...sometimes I dunno.
But here's the kicker: The Boss would've never lost a negotiation where he had all the leverage. (Nor would the average person, for that matter.) Now, THAT might be making him spin right about now.