Derek Jeter Discusses Being ‘Bothered’ by Alex Rodriguez Comments in 2001 Interview
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez formed one of the most fearsome duos in MLB history when they teamed up on the Yankees in the early 2000’s. However, the pair also became just as well-known for their rocky relationship throughout their time in the Bronx.
In the forthcoming seven-part docu-series about Jeter’s career, titled The Captain, the former star shortstop revealed that the tumultuous kinship with Rodriguez dates back well before the two joined forces in New York. Jeter revealed that he discovered Rodriguez was actually “no true friend” after the latter gave an infamous interview with Esquire in 2001.
The controversial conversation with author Scott Raab produced one of the more memorable storylines involving the two star players when Rodriguez began to discuss Jeter’s contributions to the Yankees teams that won four World Series titles between 1996 and 2000. Although Rodriguez, at the time a member of the Rangers, claimed to be a big fan of the New York shortstop, he also downplayed Jeter’s contributions to the championship teams.
“He’s reserved, quiet. Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him. So he’s never had to lead,” Rodriguez said in the interview. “He doesn’t have to, he can just go and play and have fun, and hit second. 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.”
It’s been over two decades since the interview was released, but the comments still seem to sit poorly with The Captain.
“Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal,” Jeter said in the upcoming documentary, per the New York Post. “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, who also appeared in the documentary, said that he apologized for his remarks at the time. Still, Jeter felt that the Rangers star was “diminishing” him to justify his own 10-year, $252 million contract.
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“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! You can say whatever you want about me as a player. That’s fine,” Jeter said.
“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.”
Rodriguez explained that he felt bad about the interview at the time, but that he stands by his comments to this day.
“When that came out, I felt really bad about it,” A-Rod said, according to the New York Post. “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. 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.’”
The Captain debuts on ESPN on July 18 after the Home Run Derby.
More MLB Coverage:
- Derek Jeter on Relationship with Alex Rodriguez: “He’s Not a True Friend”
- The Minor League Career That Inspired ‘Bull Durham’
- MLB-Best Games Played Streak by Royals’ Whit Merrifield Ends
- Inside The Pinstripes: Why Gerrit Cole Is Unlikely to Pitch in All-Star Game
For more New York Yankees coverage, go to Inside The Pinstripes.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.