Alex Rodriguez’s on-again-off-again bromance with Derek Jeter was back in the spotlight during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball simulcast, as the two former New York Yankees teammates shared a hug and indicated they ended their beef over ‘a lot of cocktails.’
The two had been friends and rivals when Rodriguez was a member of the Seattle Mariners in the late 1990s, and were often compared to each other as budding All-Star shortstops. That all changed when Rodriguez was asked about Jeter by Esquire in 2001 and slighted him by crediting other Yankees for the team’s success, rather than his friend.
On Sunday, while promoting his self-produced autobiographical docuseries, The Captain, alongside Kay and Rodriguez, Jeter appeared to put the spat in the rearview mirror: ‘You move on, you learn.’
Longtime Yankees announcer Michael Kay (left) with Alex Rodriguez (center) and Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez’s on-again-off-again bromance with Derek Jeter was back in the spotlight during ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball simulcast, as the two former New York Yankees teammates shared a hug and indicated they ended their beef over ‘a lot of cocktails.’ The interview began cordially, with Jeter walking on set during Sunday’s Yankees-Red Sox game and hugging A-Rod
The interview began cordially, with Jeter walking on set during Sunday’s Yankees-Red Sox game and hugging A-Rod.
Kay, who works with Rodriguez on ESPN and has known Jeter for decades, began by asking: ”Are you guys OK?”
‘Everybody asks me ‘What’s going to happen once they’re in the same room together?’ Kay continued.
Jeter poked fun at Kay by likening him to 1980s talk show host Phil Donahue.
While the famously tight-lipped Jeter was less forthcoming, Rodriguez offered ‘something I’ve never told you before.’ Specifically, the former first-overall draft pick, said he had his ‘regrets’ about how the relationship turned sour.
‘When you talk about accountability,’ Rodriguez began, ‘in my career, one of the highest, best moments of my career, and one of the lowest, has been, No. 1, I really, really enjoyed playing with you, learned so much from you, your leadership — 2009 was unbelievable and I think one of the great moments, I think, of both of our careers.
‘One of my biggest regrets — and a lot of it is because of my craziness and all the mistakes I made on and off the field — my regret is: I wish were as close as we were when we were teenagers in Seattle, when we played.
‘I guess 2009 would still be the highlight, but that’s one of my regrets.’
Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter during MTV’s 8th Annual Rock ‘n Jock Softball in Los Angeles
While Rodriguez (left) hit more homers than Jeter, he was never admired like the Captain
Jeter then revealed the two had met recently and discussed their problems.
‘We talked about it,’ Jeter said. ‘When you’re coming up at 20-years-old, 21-years-old, I think we’re all professional athletes, Major League Baseball players, you’re trying to find your place. You’re getting a feel for the league, you’re getting a feel for being a public persona for the first time. There’s a lot of things that you have to deal with, and we had to deal with a lot growing up at a very, very young age.
‘We’ve talked about it before,’ Jeter continued. ‘This isn’t the first time I’ve seen him. We got together, what was it, about a month and a half ago? And [we] had some conversations.’
Rodriguez (right) moved to third base to accommodate his trade to the Yankees and allow Jeter (left) to stay at shortstop
Jeter then referenced the passing of his former teammate and longtime friend, Gerald Williams.
‘Things happen in life,’ Jeter continued. ‘[I] lost one of my best friends in Williams [to cancer in February] and you realize life is short. You don’t hold grudges anymore and you move on.’
Jeter also shared some complimentary words about Rodriguez, the player.
‘He could do it all,’ Jeter said. ‘I don’t know how else to describe it: hit, hit for average, hit for power, stole bases, played defense, strong arm, good base runner. He could pretty much do whatever you would want a baseball player to do.
‘That’s why, obviously, the baseball world fell in love with Alex when he came up.’
Jeter also addressed their frayed friendship in ‘The Captain.’
Sunday’s meeting was a departure from The Captain, during which Jeter admits Rodriguez is ‘not a true friend.’
The 48-year-old Jeter pointed to the decades-old Esquire profile of Rodriguez, who had just departed the Seattle Mariners at the time to sign a record-breaking $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers.
Not the same: ‘And I think from that moment on it was never quite the same ever again. I think it’s [me] really not understanding the way things work,’ Rodriguez admitted
Until that point, the two shortstops were often compared to each other, having debuted in consecutive seasons in the mid-1990s to immediate acclaim. Instead of a rivalry, the two All-Stars quickly became friends, socializing together and occasionally crashing at each other’s apartments.
That all changed when Rodriguez was asked about Jeter by Esquire in 2001, by which point the former had already won four World Series titles to the latter’s zero.
‘Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him,’ Rodriguez said, crediting the Yankees’ power hitters for the team’s success.
‘So he’s never had to lead. 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.’
Rodriguez described their relationship at the time as a ‘brotherhood,’ adding that ‘there’s definitely no rivalry there.’
‘With Derek, I’m his biggest fan and I think it’s vice versa,’ Rodriguez said.
Manager Joe Torre (left) moved Rodriguez to third base and left Jeter (right) at shortstop following the Yankees’ acquisition for A-Rod in exchange for Alfonso Soriano in 2004
Jeter and Rodriguez famously became teammates in New York in 2004 and ultimately won a title together in 2009. But as Jeter explained in the ESPN docuseries, that 2001 Esquire piece altered their relationship irrevocably.
‘Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal,’ Jeter told ESPN. ‘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.
‘You can say whatever you want about me as a player, that’s fine, but then it goes back to the trust and 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.’
At the time, Jeter claimed he and Rodriguez remained friends, despite the comments.
‘Not at all,’ Jeter said when asked by ESPN Radio in 2001 if he was bothered by Rodriguez’s remarks. ‘I’ve known him for a long time. Obviously, it didn’t come out good, what he supposedly said, but he said his intentions weren’t bad, so that’s the way I look at it.
‘We’re close,’ Jeter added. ‘We obviously don’t spend a lot of time together because we’re in different cities, but he’s a good friend of mine.’
Impact: Jeter made an immediate impact on the Yankees, helping them win their first World Series in 18 years in 1996, along with three straight wins in 1998, 1999 and 2000, while A-Rod would win his only World Series as part of Jeter’s Yankees in 2009
Rodriguez said he apologized to Jeter for the comments, but also defended the 21-year-old quote to ESPN.
‘When that came out, I felt really bad about it,’ A-Rod said in The Captain. ‘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.’
Rodriguez likened Jeter’s situation in New York to his own in Seattle, where he had been surrounded by a future Hall of Famer in Ken Griffey Jr. and All-Stars like Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner.
‘By the way the same could be said about my team with the Mariners,’ Rodriguez continued. ‘We had Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner. If someone said that about me, I’d be like, ‘No s***. Absolutely. You better not just worry about me.’
Rodriguez stressed to ESPN that the comment was focused on explaining the depth of the Yankees’ lineup at the time.
‘The way that it was written, I absolutely said exactly what I said. Again, I think it was a comment that I stand behind today. It was a complete tsunami — [the Yankees were] one of the greatest teams ever — and to say that you don’t have to focus about just one player I think is totally fair,’ Rodriguez explained.
‘I apologized and said, ”Look, I feel you guys have a tsunami, it’s a great team, that wasn’t said to hurt you or penalize you or slight you in any way.”’
Rodriguez stressed to ESPN that the comment was focused on explaining the depth of the Yankees’ lineup at the time
Jeter said he ‘believed’ Rodriguez’s apology and thought it was ‘very sincere,’ though he said another incident happened a year earlier where he felt A-Rod slighted him.
Rodriguez appeared on The Dan Patrick Show in 2000, stating he didn’t think Jeter would be the one to break his then-record 10-year $252 million deal with the Rangers because, ‘he just doesn’t do the power numbers and defensively he doesn’t do all those things.’
Jeter explained in the documentary, ‘The Dan Patrick interview, he was talking about a comparison between me and him on the field. In my mind, he got his contract, so you’re trying to diminish what I’m doing maybe to justify why you got paid?’
Jeter added that his statistics, ‘never compared to Alex’s statistics,’ adding, ‘I’m not blind. I understand. But we won.’
Although Rodriguez has since admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs between 2001 and 2003, and was later suspended over steroid use for the 2014 season, his statistics do dwarf Jeter’s.
Whereas A-Rod finished his career with 696 home runs (fourth all-time), a .295 batting average and a monstrous .550 slugging percentage, Jeter had an impressive .310 average with far less power (260 homers and a .440 slugging percentage).
Jeter added that his statistics, ‘never compared to Alex’s statistics,’ adding, ‘I’m not blind. I understand. But we won’
Jeter, however, did help the Yankees to their first World Series win in 18 years in 1996, and would go on to win three straight from 1998 until 2000 before teaming with A-Rod for another title in 2009.
Rodriguez admitted he was in Jeter’s ‘circle of trust’ early on, but the things he said that Jeter didn’t like ‘broke the trust.’
‘And I think from that moment on it was never quite the same ever again. I think it’s [me] really not understanding the way things work,’ Rodriguez admitted.
‘In many ways, my father leaving when I was 10, not getting that schooling at home, the tough love, it resulted in insecurity, some self esteem issues and as I got older I realized, all you gotta be is be yourself,’ he added.
Jeter added they were both young and made mistakes, but he added, ‘I’m still gonna be cordial. But you crossed the line, and I won’t let you in again.’