New York Yankees' captain Derek Jeter has always fiercely protected his 'Mr. Clean' reputation, and thus his legacy with the franchise. He has always steered clear of controversy, even when you might think his place as captain would call for him to wade into it occasionally. He's been pure vanilla most of his career in terms of his public statements.
Well, you have to wonder if age, the increasing criticism his declining skills have received, the contentious contract negotiation he had with the Yankees in the offseason and loyalty to his long-time teammates is cracking the protective shell Jeter has always had around the Yankees.
He has always seemed above the fray. Always seemed classy, quiet and self-less -- all about winning more championships -- no matter what has been going on around him. In Yankee-land, of course, there is always something going on.
Well, that protective shell Jeter has always placed around himself is cracking. He wasn't happy over the winter that the Yankees were very public with their stance during their negotiations for a contract. He has not hit the ball with authority this season, and there are increasing questions he doesn't want to hear about his productivity.
Now, the Yankee brass is apparently not happy with Jeter for his stance on Jorge Posada's insubordination on Saturday, when he refused to play after being dropped to ninth in the batting order. Jeter did not, technically, condone Posada's action. He didn't criticize it, though, either -- and that is the problem. He didn't say anything to Posada about it.
"If I thought he did something wrong, I'd be the first to tell him," Jeter said.
I would be stunned if Jeter truly thinks Posada did nothing wrong here. For him to more or less publicly support Posada, his friend and long-time teammate, disrespects his manager, Joe Girardi. Jeter's reputation has always been that he is team first, winning above everything else. Here, he is putting blind loyalty to a friend above the team, which is not what a captain does.
I have always loved Jeter. For years now I have defended him against the Jeter-bashers and pointed out the many contributions he has made to the Yankees that have nothing to do with his batting, or fielding, stats.
Here, though, I can't defend him. If he can't recognize that Posada was wrong -- when even Posada has admitted he erred -- then Jeter, for one of the few times in his career, is on the wrong side of a controversy.