Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Ice Man
2006-06-07 07:52
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

No, I'm not talking about George Gervin or even Lee Marvin. I mean the Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. Dig this from Mike Lupica's column today:

"Listen," Jeter says, "I'm not just saying this to say this. But if you don't win it's a waste. It's not enough to win your division, it's not enough to say you made it to the League Championship Series and you battled. Or that you lost the World Series, but boy, did you battle. That's not why I play. It shouldn't be why anybody plays. Here's the deal: You start working out in November, and you keep working, through spring training and into the season, and the whole time, there's only one goal, and that's to win the World Series. Not win the division. Win the Series. And if that's not the way you look at things, then you shouldn't even be here."

Watching Jeter on the bench two nights ago, I was struck with just how blue the guy looked. I know I have a hard time taking good care of myself when I'm sick, but looking at Jeter I thought, "Man, dude looks so bummed. Just what is he going to do with himself when he can't play ball anymore?" Jeter's got the Michael Jordan red ass. You know, the whole Pat Riley thing--you either win it all or you are miserable. It may not make for great mental health on his part, but as a Yankee fan it's comforting to know that the captain of the team has that kind of competitive attitude.

I've never felt as good about a big Yankee loss as I did back Cleveland, 1997. When they lost that series, I remember several members of the team stading around, red-faced in the dugout as the Indians celebrated. David Cone stands out. I recall thinking, "Wow, these guys are as upset than I am, maybe even more" Jeter is still one of those guys.

2006-06-07 08:38:31
1.   Shaun P
The Captain is definitely a lifer, Alex. I imagine the Yanks will be very happy to have him around for a long time when his playing days are done. I'm not sure if I could see him managing one day - the big stars always seem to have trouble running the show - but I could see him coaching at least for a long time to come.
2006-06-07 08:40:14
2.   bp1
Someone (Torre?) once commented that the Yankees play 162 seasons a year.

That's how it is for me. Each game is a cause to celebrate, or a cause to (figuratively, of course) kick the dog.

I can't spend the whole season waiting for the World Series. The Yankees might not get there. I need to enjoy the season, and savor every win along the way. It's the daily cycle of the sport, and the journey of the season, that is great about baseball. Seeing younger players develop, older players give it the last try, or whatever. There are myriad stories throughout the season, and to say those are all "wasted" because the team did not win the World Series is short sighted in my opinion.

No season is wasted as long as there are good players to watch, good games to get your blood boiling, and some wins to keep it fun. I appreciate Jeter's attitude, and I know it is that single minded focus that drives guys like him, Tiger Woods, and MJ to the heights of their profession, but it can't be that way for the rest of us.

Carpe diem, eh?


2006-06-07 08:48:46
3.   MB7
From Mantle to Munson to Mattingly to Jeter, I've seen a lot of great Yankee ballplayers. Without waxing poetic or spewing corny cliches, Derek Jeter possesses any and all of the intangibles it takes to be a champion.

In a sport now inundated with all sorts of stats to qauntify or qualify a player's abilities, Jeter is the perfect example of where statistics fall short of measuring a player's true value.

2006-06-07 08:49:56
4.   Matt B
Nice Lee Marvin reference, Alex, but the go-to name for the O'Neill (Eugene, not Paul) would have to be Jason Robards, no?

I think its this quality of Jeter's that makes him so appealing to Yankee fans and neutral observers, and so goddamn annoying to Yankee-haters.

2006-06-07 08:50:14
5.   rilkefan
The quote strikes me as disrespectful to the other teams (is it a waste if you get shut down by hot pitchers in a short series? lose to the Cardinals in a well-played WS?) and to the game, which is in part about how the wind happens to be blowing and whether an umpire blinked and if there's a little bad-hop-causing imperfection in the infield turf. The Diamondbacks WS did not cap a wasted season.
2006-06-07 08:56:37
6.   wsporter
Not even Lupi's poison pen can touch the Captain. Derek Jeter is a once in a lifetime experience. It is amazing when someone can stand in the crucible and have such an objective long term view of things. He is one tough nut.

MFD, I think you are absolutely right; people like that tend to burn out the other folks around them when they are in charge if they don't learn how to back off. He seems like a really bright guy though, so I'd bet at some point the light would go on for him and he would quickly figure out how to nurse a group along. You can't breathe fire every minute. Just ask Larry Bowa.

Would that not be about the coolest thing in world though. I hope it's a very long time from happening and that we have lots more great stuff from the Captain but man that would be neat.

2006-06-07 09:12:44
7.   joejoejoe
5 I don't think there is anything disrespectful about Jeter's remarks. It's just a statement about not allowing yourself excuses for defeat. If you can shrug your shoulders in the loss against the Diamondbacks and say 'that's baseball' then you can shrug your shoulders against the Royals when you split a series in May and say 'that's baseball'. Pretty soon it's losing baseball and you've become the Royals.
2006-06-07 09:16:36
8.   Sliced Bread
With all due respect to Capt. Jeter, would he call his predecessor, Capt. Mattingly's career "a waste?"

As the on-field leader of the team it's great that Jeter has that winning mentality and expresses his competitive spirit. I admire him for approaching the game that way. But even a prolific winner like Jeter has to accept that failure is as much a part of baseball as water is a part of Earth. If a player accepts that reality it doesn't mean "they don't belong here," as Jeter suggests.

Everybody processes failure their own way. Some can shrug it off, some work it out in therapy, some punch clubhouse walls. Jeter's approach clearly works for him, but it's not for every player.

2006-06-07 09:17:12
9.   brockdc
People ask why Jeter gets a pass when other guys - especially A-Rod - are constantly maligned. Jeter gives the impression of a guy that is driven by team - rather than individual - success.

I agree, Alex. I don't think Jeter can live without the game. When he's finished, he'll still be involved in some capacity.

2006-06-07 09:23:19
10.   dianagramr
BTW, Thurman Munson would have been 59 today. :-(
2006-06-07 09:38:12
11.   Cliff Corcoran
I have to say, I'm with those who are irked by Jeter's remarks. He says this sort of thing all the time, and frankly I don't care for it. Wanting to win and excepting nothing but the best from your self or your teammates is one thing, but to say that everything is "a waste" if it doesn't culminate in a Championship is both obnoxious and disrespectful.

He's essentially saying that the fans of 29 teams waste six-to-eight months of their lives every year. That the efforts of 97 percent of his peers are wasted annually. If it's all such a giant waste, why should we bother? If he knew for a fact he wasn't going to win a World Championship this year (which he probably won't) would he just pack up his locker and head home? Would he accept playing in an empty stadium, because the fans would otherwise be wasting their time watching him and his teammates play only to lose in the end?

This is Boss George brainwashing as far as I'm concerned, and a by product of the first six years of Jeter's career (four championshps and two we're-so-mad-we're-gonna-win-it-all-next-year payoff losses). It's my least favorite thing about the Yankee captain.

2006-06-07 09:40:45
12.   Alex Belth
Matt, you are right. Robards owns the role of Hickey in "The Iceman Cometh." I actually have an old lp of Robards reading O'Neill, including from "Iceman" and he's tremendous. I don't know why I thought of Marvin, that isn't even considered a great version of the play. Just first name that popped into my head.
2006-06-07 09:43:55
13.   Maz
Let's not forget that Jeter's opinions and beliefs are dramatically colored by his almost unprecedented early success. Had he not won four championships in his first five years, perhaps his viewpoint might be a slight bit different.

Only the players of the 40's and 50's Yankees can relate to such heights of success at such an early point in their careers.

I'm sure Ernie Banks doesn't consider his life in baseball a waste.

All that aside though, it is nice to hear a player speak more about the "team concept," rather than the "me concept." There's far too little of that in sports these days.

2006-06-07 09:59:56
14.   Sliced Bread
11 Because I've been married for 10 years, my least favorite thing about the Captain, is also what I admire most about him: his ability to date 15% of Maxim's Hot 100 list, including about 25% of the top 10.
2006-06-07 10:03:07
15.   Simone
This is why Derek should stick to his canned and cliche responses. As soon as he speaks from a truthful place, he gets crushed. LOL!

Although I don't completely agree, I have no problem with what Derek said about winning championships. It is how he feels, how he motivates himself to prepare for every season. I agree that his early success along with George has influenced his way of seeing things. He is really the Yankee, the most like Steinbrenner when it comes to winning.

2006-06-07 10:05:21
16.   RI Yankee
8I don't know Mattingly personally, but I'd be willing to bet he still thinks about Game 5 of the ALDS . . . and I wonder if he could go back and trade the MVP for a ring or two, would he?

I just remember hearing Boggs and Bonilla back in the day talk about how they were essentially "entertainers" out there and thinking, these guys suck. If you're a Yankee and your bottom line isn't a ring, there IS something wrong.

2006-06-07 10:07:50
17.   dianagramr
If its such a waster Derek, why not give back part of your $17M/yr. salary in the years the Yanks don't win it all?

I'd much rather have the quasi-Boss George ramblings of Jeter than the "I'm not doing enough for the team" lamenting of A-Rod.

A-Rod's needs a new shrink ... this one ain't working.

2006-06-07 10:08:21
18.   singledd
I think Jete's statement is not only a personal statement, but one NOT meant to reflect on others. It is also in context to being on Yankee teams that could/should win it all every year.

If Jetes was on Kansas City, winning might be defined as finishing over .500. If he was a 1966 Met, it might be not finishing last.

His attitude is what drives him. I don't believe it's a statement on Mattingly's career or anybody elses. 'Winning' is relative. However, based on the talent of the teams he's been on, in his case, 'winning' is the WS.

2006-06-07 10:13:32
19.   Cliff Corcoran
18 Unfortunately the language of the quote belies that interpretation:

"if you don't win it's a waste."
"[battling] shouldn't be why anybody plays."
"there's only one goal, and that's to win the World Series"

16 Yes, I'm sure Donnie would trade that MVP for a ring in an eyeblink.

2006-06-07 10:14:43
20.   bp1
14 If for only one day, we could be Derek Jeter. Geez ....


2006-06-07 10:17:40
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
2--bp1: Amen.
2006-06-07 10:18:17
22.   bp1
20 Although my wife and I both had the same thought at the very same moment last night. She said it just as I was opening my mouth to say it, shortly after The Catch.

"Guess Melky's gonna be gettin' laid tonight", heh heh heh ...

Wouldn't ever trade my life for Jeter's, but it's fun to think about sometimes.


2006-06-07 10:18:57
23.   Start Spreading the News
7 Actually joe, I disagree. You have to consider the luck factor of the sport. Yankees were unlucky in losing G7 of 2001 on a bloop single. That's a tough loss. But not much you can do. It hurts. But that's baseball.

You don't go from there to losing to the Royals in May and shrugging it off. That is not acceptable unless you are a bad team.

The idea that losing in a tightly fought World Series is the same as splitting a May series with the Royals is ridiculous.

Then if they are not the same, you can't have the same reaction to them.

2006-06-07 10:20:59
24.   yankz
Yanks have taken three 2B to start off the draft today, if anyone pays attention to these late rounds.

14 I was about to go through that list and see how many Jeter has actually gotten (that we know about). 20 is so true...

2006-06-07 10:25:25
25.   tommyl
Eh, I have no problem with these comments. Its just Jeter expressing his attitude. As for the comments about his take on other players or his ability to manage, I'll point out that Jeter is usually one of the first to crack a joke out there to lighten the mood or to bolster a struggling teamate. Remember last year when Giambi was struggling and Jeter stood by him the whole time? If he was going around saying everyone else was awful everytime they lose a game or make a bad play that's one thing. Jeter is more intelligent than that, he wants to win, sees that as his overarching goal, but takes every game one at a time and truly supports his teamates.
2006-06-07 10:32:20
26.   yankz
Catcher is drafted! Pick #734- Brian Baisley from U South Florida.
2006-06-07 10:44:36
27.   Cliff Corcoran
Here's another thing. Why these comments now? The Yanks are on a great run with an unexpected cast and that's when you start blabbing on with this all or nothing talk? I mean, I can understand wanting to keep the younger players from getting complaicent with their new-found success but, the way I see it, this team is riding a high and Jeter's comments are a pure downer.
2006-06-07 10:46:27
28.   Matt B
12 - Alex, never apologize for mentioning Lee Marvin. Actually, I've heard that movie is not bad at all, but it's truncated (the play runs 4 hours). Good cast - Marvin, Jeff Bridges, Robert Ryan...
2006-06-07 10:50:41
29.   tommyl
27 Cliff, that's a valid point which I hadn't considered. I agree they are ill-timed, but what the hell do I know? I'm just a guy sitting around trying to understand quantum mechanics.
2006-06-07 10:58:34
30.   Shaun P
27 Why now? I think Alex hit upon the answer to that question - "Watching Jeter on the bench two nights ago, I was struck with just how blue the guy looked."

Jeter is frustrated. He wants to be playing now, and he can't, and especially since its against the Red Sox and the division is close and the Yanks have a lot of injuries . . . He did try to lobby himself into the lineup on Monday, after all.

Frustration can be like alcohol, makes people say things they normally wouldn't/shouldn't otherwise say.

2006-06-07 11:31:45
31.   Sliced Bread
Munson, Mattingly, Jeter -- We've loved them all, but "Who's Your Cappy?" (real quotes):

Capt. Munson: "I'm a little too belligerent. I cuss and swear at people. I yell at umpires and maybe I'm a little too tough at home sometimes. I don't sign as many autographs as I should and I haven't always been very good with writers."

Capt. Mattingly: "This guy is working all week and he brings his son to this show, has to pay $2 to get in, maybe $5 for a picture and then $6 for an autograph. These guys have to think you're a real ass with your head down all the time signing."

Capt. Jeter: "If you're going to play at all, you're out to win. Baseball, board games, playing Jeopardy, I hate to lose."

2006-06-07 19:13:34
32.   kdw
Guess I took Jeter's comments to say that's why he thinks players should play, to win it all. I didn't take it to apply to fans, rather that as a player he thinks the motivation should be to win the Series. I also think you're talking about not just a player who's enjoyed a lot of success, which he has, but someone who grew up wanting to play for the Yankees, a team that's had a fair amount of success.
2006-06-07 23:35:59
33.   Freddy Toliver
I actually interpret his comments to not be directed as a reflection on the end result, a win or a loss, but on the attitude one should take approaching the task at hand, the game that day, the season approaching.

It's DESIRE. He's saying that if he doesn't burn and desire to win the World Series at every moment, at every play, he's wasted that play, that game, that day, that season.

Does anyone play intramural softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, bowling, water polo? Do you approach each game like you're playing shortstop for the Yankees and it's the World Series Game 7? Of course not - you're playing D League softball - but you approach the game that night as if you DESIRE to win that game. Your attitude before the game is similar to "if you lose, it's a waste" - you're not telling yourself ahead of time that it's okay to lose cause you're really out there just to run around to get exercise while your team loses 30-2, do you?

He's talking about an approach to the game. And the other commenters are right - his approach, as a Yankee, as an employee of the Boss, as a guy who has won before, that each day, game, and season is about winning. If each day, each game, and each season is about getting a hit, keeping your average at .300, or impressing other teams for your impending free agency, then you are an employee of the Royals and as a team, you will never have the Desire to win as a team.

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