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Sunday, December 05, 2010

No pride in Yankees public gotcha handling of Derek Jeter deal-Lupica

12/5/10, Mike Lupica, "They wanted it to look, in the more heated parts of this, as though Jeter was the greedy one. They were twitchy to get out there what they said Jeter wanted,
that Jeter wanted $23 million or $24 million a year, whatever the Yankees said he was asking for.
  • Not just delighted. Thrilled.
They thought it made them look good. But you know who has always made them look good? Jeter has.
It is Jeter, even more than the great Mariano Rivera, even more than Joe Torre did in the old days, before Torre's Yankees stopped winning the World Series,
  • who has been the face of the brand they say they're trying to protect.
Now they think they protect that brand by giving him this kind of hard time, taking this kind of hard line. I talked to one respected baseball guy in the middle of this, watching this all play out, and asked if Jeter will ever forget the way this all played out, being told in public to go find a better offer if he thought he could.There was a pause at the other end of the phone and then the guy said,
  • "Never."
Say it again: Leverage only matters in something like this if you're prepared to use it. And the Yankees did, until they calmed down. The idea that Casey Close, Jeter's agent, is the one who escalated the war of words by calling the Yankees' strategy "baffling" wasn't something that reasonable people ever should have taken seriously. But others did. It was never supposed to matter that
The company in a company town. "This isn't a licensing deal or a commercial rights deal," Yankees president Randy Levine said before Casey Close said a word to me. "(Jeter's) a baseball player." There is this idea that if you even suggested that Jeter shouldn't take a pay cut at this stage of his career, after all he's meant to the Yankees, that somehow he mattered more than Rivera, or other old champions.
  • It is a specious argument. In the whole grand scheme of things, maybe no winning Yankee has ever mattered more than Rivera. But the Yankees didn't ask Rivera to take a pay cut. Jeter, they did.
So he was supposed to want too much, at a time when the Yankees always pay too much, at a time when they charge too much for their high-end seats, at a time when they spent way more on their new stadium than they had to. This all happens, by the way, in the year when George Steinbrenner passed away, and because of the tax laws in this country, saved his family a fortune in estate taxes.
  • But they had to draw the line on Derek Jeter.
You always knew how this was going to end up. Maybe if it were five years ago, even three years ago, it would have been different. Maybe even if his contract had run out after he hit the .334 he did in 2009, with the 212 hits, with the Yankees winning another World Series. But it wasn't 2009, it was 2010, and he only hit .270 in 2010 and the Yankees didn't win the World Series.So here we are, close to what the Yankees wanted to pay. The Yankees acting as if they had some moral high ground on this.
of the team who helped win them five World Series, who was as valuable a player as they had between 1996 and 2000 when they were as great as any Yankee team ever has been.
  • You can't be a better Yankee than Jeter has been. It is the Yankees who will someday wish they had done things better on this."
  • Mike Lupica, NY Daily News
NY Daily News back cover, 12/5/10 (Jeter was on the front page today as well. ed) There was no earthly reason it had to be handled this way. This is an 'intangible' created not by Jeter in this case, but by team decision makers that will cause people to think twice before investing time and money to travel to a Yankee game. ed.

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