Things picked up last week in Yankeeland because of some book written by some guy who, I think used to manage the team. That’s still going, kind of, but you can’t write about it in every column, can you? Wallace Matthews doesn’t think so. He’s changed the topic this week, though it’s not any less insufferable than the Torre talk. He think that Derek Jeter should stick up for Alex Rodriguez. Great. We’re back on this again.
No one, of course, tells Derek Jeter what to do, and I don’t presume to try. But it is my considered opinion that Jeter can hide for only so long behind his stock answer, “I haven’t read the book yet.”
The book is out Tuesday. Time to start reading. And he doesn’t even have to read it to come out and say, simply: “Alex is my teammate. Alex is our guy. Everyone in this clubhouse stands behind him.”
And that has to include the captain. Because that’s what captains do.
Over the past few years, more than a few Yankees fans have wondered why Jeter doesn’t say something on A-Rod’s behalf. Fire Joe Morgan once criticized Jeter for coming to Jason Giambi’s defense but not A-Rod’s. The situations are a bit different, though.
No one thought Jeter didn’t have Giambi’s back. The fans were just peeved at Giambi for 1) the steroids thing, 2) missing most of 2004, and 3) getting off to a terrible start in 2005. So Jeter came out and publicly defended his teammate. So why doesn’t he do this for A-Rod? I can’t give an explanation, as I am not Derek Jeter, nor do I know anyone familiar with his thinking.
The difference in the situations is clear. Yankees fans presume Jeter doesn’t have A-Rod’s back. We all know about the incident where A-Rod tried to take Jeter down a peg, and the consensus is that Jeter still bears a grudge. That seems a bit extreme eight years later, especially when the object of the grudge is now a teammate. Something tells me that this is not the whole story.
The captain should have his teammates’ backs, implicitly or explicitly. Jeter was explicit with Giambi, but not with A-Rod. Does this mean Jeter doesn’t have A-Rod’s back? Not necessarily. I don’t think it’s as big a deal that Jeter comes out and says anything. Alex is a grown man. He can handle his own business. Or at least we hope he can.