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Money Can't Cure A-Rod's Bad Case of Derek Envy

New York Post, December 21,2000

By Tom Keegan

HE HAS been guaranteed more than a quarter of a billion dollars and he is the best baseball player on the planet. He is young and handsome, intelligent and charismatic. So you think it's easy being Alex Rodriguez around the holiday season, right?


Everybody figures you make so much money you don't need a Christmas present, so you don't get anything under your tree. Everybody needs a Christmas present, even the wealthiest professional athlete in the world.

So don't limit your holiday generosity to the needy, save a little for the emotionally needy as well. Send A-Rod a Christmas present. Send him a coffee mug that says, "I Want to Be Like Derek."

In light of the comments he made to Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio, the Michael Jordan of baseball doesn't want to be like Mike, he wants to be like Derek.

Every morning when he awakens and has his morning cup of java, he can be humbled by the reminder he is not who appears to want to be. He is not Derek Jeter. Clearly, that seems to bother Rodriguez.

Why else would he stump for Andruw Jones and not Jeter to break his contract record?

A-Rod was right in saying Jeter will not break his record. He won't break it because he isn't as talented as A-Rod. Rodriguez is bigger, faster and stronger.

It was in going out of his way to introduce Jeter into the conversation that Rodriguez revealed that even the richest contract in sports history is no cure for Derek envy.

"It may be Andruw, it may be Pedro," Rodriguez said when asked whom would break his $252 million record. "I don't know who it's going to be. The 252 is going to be hard to break because of my age and my talent at such a young age.

"Even a guy like Derek, it's going to be hard for him to break that because he just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively he doesn't do all those things. So he might not break the 252. He might get 180. I don't know what he's going to get. 150? I'm not sure."

Pedro Martinez won't break the record because nobody is going to sign a pitcher to a 10-year contract. Andruw Jones? Of all the players out there, why would Rodriguez mention Andruw Jones?

Here's one possible explanation: Scott Boras, the most accomplished sports agent, just negotiated a $252 million deal for Rodriguez essentially by getting the Rangers to bid against themselves. A-Rod feels so grateful for Boras' latest magic act he is now on the campaign trail for Boras' next high-profile client, the Braves' center fielder.

Andruw Jones is the best defensive center fielder of his generation. His career batting average is .272, his on-base percentage .344, his slugging percentage .494. Jeter's career totals: .322, .394, .468. Advantage Jeter, especially considering offense is harder to find at shortstop than in center. Jeter has four more World Series championships than Jones. Shouldn't that count for something?

By commenting on Jeter's worth, A-Rod mixed business and friendship. Never a good idea, even though if the A-Rod/Jeter relationship is like most celebrity friendships, which is to say overblown and media driven, the shortstops probably aren't as thick as most think.

Rodriguez had a better year defensively than Jeter in 2000. Nevertheless, it was extremely tacky of A-Rod to go out of his way to call attention to Jeter's defense in a negative manner. Jeter remains among the best fielders at the most important defensive position on the diamond.

If A-Rod is worth $252 million, Jeter, over the same term is worth about $205 million, not the $180 million or $150 million Rodriguez cited.

A-Rod's statements lend further credence to the suspicion he is green not with money but with envy.

He appears jealous of Jeter's address and his jewelry. Jeter, by playing in New York and winning four championships in his first five seasons, has a higher profile than Rodriguez. His autograph is worth more and he is considered more desirable by corporate types seeking a familiar face to pitch their product.

Rodriguez could have gotten that New York address by shouting from the highest mountain, "Make me a Met. I'm mad at Steve Phillips for portraying me as selfish but I'm willing to forgive him because I want to play for the Mets."

He chose not to, and followed the money to Texas. By doing so, he removed himself from contention for Jeter's address and made it even more difficult to duplicate Jeter's jewelry box.

A-Rod said he thinks the Rangers are "two pitchers away from being maybe the best team in baseball."

Maybe the Rangers are two pitchers away from being the best team in baseball. Too bad Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson retired.



Eyes on Jeter, A-Rod

Bergen Record, October 10, 2000

By Adrian Wojnarowski


Outside his Manhattan hotel, baseball's best shortstop stepped into the cool autumn air and scanned the streets for a cab to take him to Yankee Stadium for a Monday workout. It was a short walk to the curb, but impossible for a GQ cover boy to make it unmolested.

The cries of "Derek, Derek" rose on the street, with people stopping on a bustling sidewalk and fumbling for a pen and paper for him to scribble an autograph. He gets this everywhere, but three people in a matter of minutes on a Manhattan street?

"But no, I've never signed his name," Alex Rodriguez said hours later, standing outside the third base dugout at the Stadium. "If you want to tell me that I'm Derek Jeter, I'll take that as a huge compliment. I've got [mistaken for him] at least 25 times this season."

He watched the Mariners take the final cuts of batting practice on the eve of tonight's ALCS Game 1, the coolest, calmest star in uniform. Of course, his best friend, Jeter, was nowhere to be found, steering clear of the workout to rest after a wild weekend division series with the A's that thrust him to a familiar fall surroundings: within a whisper of the World Series, within reach of a another ring.

"In a lot of ways, our careers have mirrored each others," Rodriguez said.

Here, he stopped, bit his lip, and laughed.

"Except for the three rings."

Once there was a great baseball debate in New York. Who did you want: Willie or the Mick? Now, it isn't center fielders. It's shortstops. A-Rod, Nomar, or Jeter? This has turned into a rite of fall, the American League's great young shortstops trying to overtake Jeter and the Yankees and write an October legacy for themselves. Garciaparra lost in the ALCS a year ago, and now Rodriguez comes calling. There was a time people believed they could take the names of Jeter, Rodriguez, and Garciaparra, throw them in a hat, shake it up and it wouldn't matter the one you picked out of it.

"There's nothing that I can point to Jeter that stands out like Nomar's ability to lead the league in hitting, or A-Rod's ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Torre said. ". . . I think Jeter is the whole package."

For the first time, the numbers aren't on Jeter's side. This was the season Garciaparra chased .400, and Rodriguez had his 41 homers and 132 RBI in spacious Safeco Field and elevated the Mariners without Junior Griffey on his side. And yet, it's Jeter, with his 15 home runs and 73 RBI, who's still the face people think they see on the street when a tall, dark, and handsome superstar shortstop walks past. Whether Rodriguez is mistaken for Jeter on the streets of New York or the beaches of Southern California, the reason is easy to understand: The world remembers the winner.

And as the conventional laws of superstar validation go, Jeter is the winner. Because Seattle had no pitching, A-Rod wasn't? Because the Red Sox's pitching is dreadful past Pedro Martinez, Garciaparra isn't? Well, whatever. Until they get themselves a championship, this will be the burden.

On Rodriguez's visits to Jeter's winter home in Tampa, Fla., it wasn't beyond the Yankee to dust off his World Series rings and parade them with a little friendly fire.

What could A-Rod say?


"Baseball isn't basketball, where two guys can make you a winner," Rodriguez said. "Derek came into a great situation in New York. He was probably the missing piece for this team. Timing is everything. Some of the best winners are probably on teams that lose 100 games."

A-Rod's right, but nobody wants to hear it. Still, the eyes will be on him and Jeter. They always are. Ultimately, people will remember: Could A-Rod get past Jeter? Could he beat him? In so many ways, they're intertwined. In truth, they've helped to reshape the dynamic of the superstar friendship on, of all places, the fringe of a fight. With the benches cleared and the Yankees and Mariners standing chin to chin, these two baseball princes were caught laughing on the outside of the scrum. In the summer of 1999, Jeter and Rodriguez made baseball stop and reconsider its archaic values by obliterating the divisions forever drawn on the baseball field. They're the biggest of stars, the best of friends, and there was nowhere they bothered to hide it.

"The only person who had a problem with it was Chad Curtis," Rodriguez said. "Maybe Chad wanted us to punch each other out."

Said Torre: "I think we allow it now. Years ago, you were not allowed to have that kind of open relationship with somebody from another ballclub because it was more or less war. Now I think it is more respect. We're putting a show on for people. And these two kids are really worth paying your money to watch play."

"This is going to make for an exciting series because these two guys obviously going to be the spotlight people."

On the eve of the game, the best shortstop in baseball stood outside the third-base dugout and waited for Game 1 tonight and waited for his best friend, Derek Jeter, to get the Stadium. Alex Rodriguez is desperate to get to a World Series, desperate to be a winner, and he knows who he has to go through to get there.

A-Rod Backpedals Praises Jeter, Puts New Spin on Criticism

Newsday, March 15, 2001
by David Lennon

Tampa -Derek Jeter may not have as much money as Alex Rodriguez, but he knows when to keep his mouth shut. So when the Bill Gates of baseball was scheduled to arrive at Legends Field yesterday with his Texas Rangers, Jeter anticipated the questions that would follow, and told reporters where to go for the answers.

"He's waiting for you," said Jeter, referring to Rodriguez. "He said he can't wait to talk to you guys."

When someone jokingly asked for an inflammatory comment to take back to his friend, Jeter looked up and replied, "He's the quote man."

That's for sure. Rodriguez spent lots of time popping off about his supposed buddy this winter. First, there was his interview with ESPN Radio, when Rodriguez basically said Jeter, who had yet to sign a new contract with the Yankees, was not worth nearly as much as his own $252-million deal over 10 years. "It's going to be hard for him to break that because he just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively, he doesn't do all those things."

Soon Rodriguez was at it again, knocking Jeter in the April edition of Esquire magazine. "Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him," A-Rod was quoted as saying. "He's never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun...You never say, 'Don't let Derek beat you.' He's never your concern."

But Jeter never fired back, and the All-Stars said they ironed out their PR problems with heart-to-heart chats. Still, Jeter and Rodriguez seemed to grow more distant, nothing like the pals who stayed at each other's apartment when their teams were in town. A-Rod even passed on Jeter's New Year's Eve party for the first time, an indication that the friendship was floundering.

If that's so, Rodriguez went overboard saying the opposite yesterday, gushing about Jeter so much that it seemed more like damage control for his image than genuine feelings.

Flashing his megawatt smile, A-Rod expressed remorse for his shots at Jeter and tried to wiggle out of them.

"As someone who's been promoting him to be president of the United States of America for the past six or seven years, it's kind of ironic that I would ever try to dog one of my greatest friends," Rodriguez said. "I think it's behind us now. More importantly, I think we're on the same page.

"I can look you right in the eye and be totally honest and say I'm his biggest fan. When he hurts, I hurt. And when he does well, I'm very, very happy for him. The question has always been asked: Is the friendship sincere? It's as sincere as any friend I have in this world now. So when that stuff comes out, I don't ever want Derek Jeter to hurt from something that I say. He's a guy that I'd give the shirt off my back if he needs it."

In this tax bracket, it would be an Armani, but Jeter's closet is most likely stocked after signing a 10-year, $189-million contract last month. He probably settled for an apology over the telephone, though Rodriguez felt he had to deliver strained explanations of his comments during an impromptu dugout news conference.

Speaking about the radio interview, Rodriguez said he was praising the world champions' depth, not slamming Jeter.

And the contract? Rodriguez insists he meant Jeter would get $150 million to $180 million over five or six years, not 10 years as was later suggested.

When asked if he might be jealous of Jeter, he said, "There's four things to be jealous about and that's the world championships. But I can honestly say I've never been jealous. I'm very happy for him...I just hope Derek Jeter gives me the opportunity to get one ring in the next 10 years."

From Jeter's perspective, that may be carrying this friendship thing too far.



A-Rod Out to Get Foot From Mouth

Daily News, March 15, 2001
By Anthony McCarron

There was no Magic-Isiah air kiss between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez last night before the first game the two shortstops have played against each other since A-Rod ripped his supposed buddy in two separate media bashings.

And there were only half-hearted boos mixed in with cheers when A-Rod was introduced at Legends Field, though the $252 million man said before the game that he expected to be inundated with invective. When he batted in the first inning, he got booed more heavily, but even Ed Whitson wouldn't have been bothered by the brief noise.

In fact, the most emotion shown in what may have become a bloodless friendship came from a slickly smooth Rodriguez, who did everything but call Jeter the Greatest Living Human.

Rodriguez reiterated his position that he never meant to denigrate Jeter in Esquire magazine or on ESPN Radio, though he admitted his comments could have been construed that way.

And, Rodriguez added, he's not jealous of Jeter, either.

"Absolutely not," A-Rod said. "I'm happy for Derek. I feel like he's a brother of mine. The four things to be jealous of are the World Championships. I hope he gives me the opportunity to get one ring."

Rodriguez, who spent the day in Tampa filming a television commercial with Roger Clemens, was the first Ranger to the park yesterday. Because of a media crush looking to explore the Jeter-Rodriguez spat, Texas' media department scheduled a sit-down with writers in the visitors' dugout for Rodriguez.

"We're fine. If you want to sell this, make it bigger than it is, that's fine. ... I'm his biggest fan and I always have been. When he hurts, I hurt. When he does well, I'm happy for him."

It sounded quite different in the April issue of Esquire. In response to a question that wasn't even about Jeter, A-Rod stumbled when, he said, he tried to make an analogy.

In the story, Rodriguez is quoted as saying: "Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him. He's never had to lead. He can just go and play and have fun. He hits second — that's totally different than third or fourth in a lineup. You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie (Williams) and (Paul) O'Neill. You never say, 'Don't let Derek beat you.' He's never your concern."

Rodriguez explained yesterday that he intended the remark to be complimentary to the entire Yankees organization.

After Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $252 million contract in December — the richest in sports history — he was asked if he thought Jeter was worth the same kind of cash.

"It's going to be hard for him to break that because he just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively, he doesn't do all those things," Rodriguez told ESPN Radio. "So he might not break the 252. He might get 180. I don't know what he's going to get, 150? I'm not sure."

After the Esquire piece, Jeter said he was "confused" over both sets of comments. Jeter didn't say so, but he clearly was annoyed as well.

"Perhaps I was out of line commenting on it," Rodriguez said. "I didn't mean any harm by it."

Jeter and Rodriguez both say the matter is closed. Rodriguez called Jeter the night the news of the Esquire piece broke and both are happy. Both were in a light mood yesterday.

"We might go to dinner," Rodriguez said. "He's buying."

When reporters went to Jeter's locker to talk about Rodriguez's impending arrival, Jeter joked, "He's waiting for you. He said he can't wait to talk to you.

"He's the quote man."

I am NOT affiliated with the New York Yankees. I am just a fan. I am not Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez or any other member of the Yankee ballclub. This site is mainly for entertainment purposes only.