Looming purchase of Miami Marlins may change perception of Derek Jeter

By Roger Rubin, The Sports Xchange  |  Updated May 15, 2017 at 9:51 AM
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NEW YORK -- Steeped in history, legendary ballplayers and championships, the New York Yankees really have it down when it comes to pomp.

The fete they gave Derek Jeter on Sunday night as they retired his No. 2 was tremendous. His plaque in Monument Park was unveiled, and others who have gone there before him -- Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre -- were there to take a packed house back in time to one of the franchise's greatest eras.

Jeter did in this moment exactly what he did in his majestic playing career: delivered a great performance with humility and thankfulness.

He said that there was no player in history that he would have changed places with. He said, "I'm eternally grateful to be part of the Yankee family." And he added how thankful he was to have played in front of the "best fans in all of sports."

There is a reasonably good chance this was the last time to see Derek Jeter as a Yankee at Yankee Stadium. We know he will be a Yankee one more day: the day he is enshrined at the Hall of Fame in five years, perhaps as the player who receives the highest percentage of the ballots in history.

But Jeter is now part of a group that also includes Jeb Bush that has been tabbed as "the preferred bidder" to buy the Miami Marlins for more than $1.3 billion. Hard as it is to envision him ever being a part of a Yankees Old-Timers' Day under any circumstances -- probably not, but maybe in street clothes like Joe DiMaggio did the final few times -- it would be even more difficult to do that if he owned a competing franchise.

Let's remember that Jeter was always about the competition. It would be difficult to envision that softening if he owned the Marlins. Rather, it would be much more likely to see him spreading that attitude throughout the Miami organization.

Jeter did not want to get sidetracked on that subject on his night at the Stadium. He insisted people are getting carried away, and prematurely at that.

Not so much his former teammates.

"Owning a team, for him it's a challenge and brings out that competitive spirit again, of trying to win a championship," Tino Martinez said. "I think that's really what he wants to get involved in, is getting to his next level of his life in baseball where he can still do something to achieve a World Series and be the best team, best at what you do."

Posada said, "People are asking, 'Is it going to happen? That would be great.' He brings that winning mentality. The people in Miami want it. They want change."

New York Yankees Derek Jeter stands at the plate in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium in New York City on September 24, 2014. File photo UPI/John Angelillo
Baseball players, by and large, live charmed lives. They are big business, but in actuality, they are being handsomely paid to play a kid's game. Among them, Jeter tells a rare story. When he was an 8-year-old, he decided he wanted to be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees. And with singular focus and a little bit of luck, he became just that. One of the greatest to play the game, too.

About a decade ago, he was asked what he thought his next act might be. In a radio interview, he said he would like to become an owner because it would be "cool" to "call the shots." He underscored it by saying: "I will do it one day."

So, in a sense, we've seen this before from The Captain.

There were news reports last week that the Jeter-Bush group might be looking at too much debt to buy a money-losing franchise like the Marlins. Another bidder vying for the Marlins has Tagg Romney (Mitt's son) and Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in the ownership group.

And you thought real-life and politics don't mirror one another.

Success in a sport does not necessarily predict success as part of a front office. Michael Jordan has spent years with the Charlotte Hornets without success. Nolan Ryan had some success with an ownership stake and the presidency of the Texas Rangers, but he ultimately was out of power a few years ago. Then again, John Elway was part of the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl success a couple of years ago, and Mario Lemieux is part of the ownership group of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are aiming for their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Only time and banking acumen will determine whether Jeter becomes part of another franchise. And if he and his group succeed in buying the Marlins, he will be invited back to the Stadium and will have a decision to make.

The Yankees' doubleheader with the Houston Astros on Sunday was the hottest ticket in New York in some time. The place was packed, and rightfully so. It may have been Derek Jeter's penultimate day as a Yankee.

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