By Phil Bausk
According to ESPNNewYork.com, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has agreed to a 2 year contract, worth around $30 Million to remain a Yankee. There is no doubt that Rivera is a Hall of Fame pitcher, and even at age 41, he is still producing at a remarkable level. Rivera has spent his entire career as a Yankee, and is one of the handful of players remaining from their late 1990’s dynasty.
While all team Owners and General Managers can only hope that contract negotiations go as smoothly as Rivera’s did, they know that this is a pipe dream. Most players are extremely self entitled and have egos the size of Greg Oden’s….. Injury Report. No matter what offer a team may give then, they will hold out or skip town to get what they feel they deserve.
If you couldn’t tell where this is going (not that its in the headline or anything), its leading up to discuss the interesting situation between Derek Jeter and the Yankees, the franchise he has been the face of for over a decade. The Yankees have offered Jeter, 36, a 3 year contract worth $45 Million. Jeter, the luckiest guy on earth not named Tom Brady, doesn’t feel that this offer is close to what he deserves. Jeter’s asking price is in the $22-24 Million range, while seeking out an additional year to the contract.
Now, like most Boston Red Sox fans, I hate Derek Jeter as much as Braylon Edwards hates shaving. I am giddy at the idea of Jeter and the Yanks struggling to find a middle-ground, and ultimately, the Yanks having to deal with this situation and miss out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. However, there is still a side of me that actually feels for Derek Jeter and the disrespect he feels he is receiving from the Yankees.
Now I know what you are thinking. You are crazy, he shouldn’t get near $15 Million a year, he is a below average shortstop (This makes ZERO sense), and he is coming off the worst offensive season of his career. All very fair points and you are right, he really doesn’t deserve what the Yanks have already offered him. Does Jeter know this? Does he think his talents are slipping? Who knows, he probably doesn’t think this way and even if he did, would never admit it. On the other hand, Jeter knows his value off the field is greater than his value on the field (Duh!!!).
Over the last 16 seasons, Jeter has given his heart and soul to this franchise. From winning enough World Series Rings to wear on one hand, to being this teams emotional leader through tough times and dealing with bonehead teammates, i.e. Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Alex “I’d do me” Rodriguez, and others. Jeter knows the kind of backlash the team would get if they don’t resign him. Sure the Yankees could spin a story saying how Jeter is the bad guy, but I think Jeter’s fans like him too much to turn on him like other fans have turned on past superstars.
(On a side note, Cleveland Cavs fans, I am truly disappointed in your efforts last night. A Scottie Pippen chant was really the best chant you guys could come up with? For a city that has come up with that managed to get their football team back after it had been plucked from its fingertips, the lack of originality and pure hatred towards Lebron last night was inexcusable and was not close to meeting my expectations. Don’t worry, he comes back on March, 29, 2011)
I mean, don’t all of these look weird to you? With Rivera getting $15 Million a year, maybe Jeter will see what he SHOULD be doing, as opposed to what he feels he deserves. He has to look past his most recent accolades and see that he isn’t performing on the same level as guys like Rivera. I just don’t think his ego will let him do that and ultimately, there will be some sort of compromise, where Jeter gets a bit more than that original offer.
After Free Agency became a staple in Major League Baseball, players and agents began taking advantage of owner’s trepidation over losing revenues and alienating their respective fan bases. One thing that has bothered me over the past few years is that only a small group of players have that same fear. Loyalty towards a ball club is one thing, but the fans have a much more intimate relationship with these players. They come to games early in the hopes of grabbing an autograph and just talking to a big league player. They create disillusioned relationships with athletes (For me its Big Papi being my long lost Uncle) that give them this bond that the feel can never be broken…until that player bolts for an extra year and a $2 Million signing bonus.
Jeter doesn’t fear what would happen to him if he were to leave New York. He believes that his fans will cheer for him no matter what happens. He has put in enough time and championships (Yes, 7 years and no rings isn’t enough Lebron) to earn a certain amount of unconditional love from his followers. If he became a Seattle Mariner and came back in the middle of the Summer, there would be a ceremony for him and a 3 minutes long standing ovation.
The fear of being turned on goes directly towards the Yankees. That is just how Free Agency has helped (and hurt) shape baseball, and other sports. In the end, Jeter will remain a Yankee and will get more money than he should to do so. Maybe it is just time to accept that there is nothing we can do as fans about this type of situation. All I know is if i held out from my job, I would be on the street faster than Jason Biggs’ lovemaking ability.