Derek Jeter Reveals Why He Decided Alex Rodriguez Was Not a 'True Friend'
Derek Jeter is opening up about how his relationship with Alex Rodriguez soured. In The Captain, ESPN's upcoming docuseries on Jeter, the 48-year-old MLB Hall of Famer speaks about the end of his friendship with his one-time teammate.
Years before Jeter and Rodriguez both played for the New York Yankees, the shortstops had a highly publicized friendship. That changed in 2001 when Rodriguez, 46, spoke negatively about his pal in an interview with Esquire.
"He’s reserved, quiet. Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him. So he’s never had to lead. He doesn’t have to, he can just go and play and have fun, and hit second," Rodriguez told the outlet at the time. "I mean, you know, hitting second is totally different than hitting third or fourth in a lineup because you go into New York trying to stop Bernie [Williams] and [Paul] O’Neill and everybody. You never say, 'Don’t let Derek beat you.' That’s never your concern."
Though Rodriguez apologized to Jeter, shortly thereafter the former baseball star gave a similar statement to another outlet. The situation, Jeter says in The Captain, did not sit well with him.
"Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal," he says, according to multiple outlets. "As a friend, I’m loyal. I just looked at it as, 'I wouldn’t have done it.' And then it was the media. The constant hammer to the nail. They just kept hammering it in. It just became noise, which frustrated me. Just constant noise."
Rodriguez's comments came after Jeter and the Yankees won four World Series titles in five years, between 1996 and 2000. Rodriguez, who was playing for the Texas Rangers at the time, didn't win the World Series until 2009, as a member of the Yankees alongside Jeter. He did, however, have a blockbuster contract with the Rangers and impressive on-field stats.
"In my mind, he got his contract, so you’re trying to diminish what I’m doing, maybe to justify why you got paid. When you talk about statistics, mine never compared to Alex’s. I’m not blind. I understand that. But, we won!" Jeter says in the docuseries. "You can say whatever you want about me as a player. That’s fine. But then it goes back to the trust, the loyalty. This is how the guy feels. He’s not a true friend, is how I felt. Because I wouldn’t do it to a friend."
As for how Rodriguez felt after the article was released, in The Captain he recalls, "When that came out, I felt really bad about it."
"I saw the way it was playing out. The way it was written, I absolutely said exactly what I said. It was a comment that I stand behind today," he says. "It was a complete tsunami. It was one of the greatest teams ever. To say that you don’t have to focus on just one player is totally fair. By the way, the same could be said about my team with the Mariners. We had Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner. If someone said that about me, I’d be like, 'No s**t. Absolutely. You better not just worry about me.'"
While he may stand by his comment, Rodriguez acknowledges that his friendship with Jeter was harmed as a result of it.
"From that moment on, it was never quite the same ever again," Rodriguez says. "I think it’s really [my] not understanding the way things work. In many ways, my father leaving when I was 10, not getting that schooling at home -- the hard knocks, the tough love -- it resulted in insecurity and some self-esteem issues. As I got older, I realized, all you had to do is be yourself."
The Captain, a seven-part docuseries, will premiere July 18 on ESPN.
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