Derek Jeter Talks ‘The Captain’ Documentary, Alex Rodriguez

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Baseball’s All-Star break marks one of many quietest weeks of the U.S. sporting calendar. MLB is off, the NBA has settled into its low season, NFL coaching camps open in full swing subsequent week. So it’s an opportune time for ESPN to debut—and endlessly promote—a documentary about one of the vital consequential sports activities icons of the final quarter century. The Captain, a seven-part collection that debuts on the community following tonight’s Residence Run Derby, covers the profession of New York Yankees Corridor of Famer Derek Jeter, a participant who served because the face of his sport for twenty years. He was a dynamic shortstop who, by dint of his standing of main man for a staff primarily based within the media capital of the phrase—and that gained 4 World Collection in his first 5 seasons—resonated within the broader tradition. Since his retirement from New York Yankees nearly eight years in the past, baseball’s been desperately looking for Jeter’s successor.

Like one other sports activities documentary exploring an icon, The Last Dance, this Jeter challenge will roll out new episodes each week, via August 11. (The primary 5 installments had been out there for media to view). And like The Final Dance, the story is instructed from the viewpoint of its topic. However the challenge is extra than simply hours of eye-rolling hagiography. Jeter grapples along with his racial id, a topic not often mentioned throughout his enjoying days, his fraught relationship with fellow famous person—and eventual Yankee teammate—Alex Rodriguez, and even a few of this forays into the tabloid gossip pages. On the eve of The Captain’s debut, Jeter mentioned these, and different, topics with TIME.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for readability)

TIME: One revelation from this documentary: while you had been a child, you and your dad used to compete in opposition to one another whereas watching The Price Is Right. What pricing video games had been the point of interest?

Jeter: We’d do all of it. I used to go to afternoon kindergarten afterwards. And we’d sit down and we’d watch The Value Is Proper. We guessed the costs and my dad would simply take pleasure in beating me [at the game]. As I mentioned within the doc, it might be some type of baby abuse.

I get it now, as a result of I’ve three ladies. It’s important to train them, life isn’t simple. Nothing goes to be given to you.

So did that instill just a little little bit of early competitiveness in you?

No query. We used to compete at every part. Checkers, tic-tac-toe. I nonetheless bear in mind the primary time I beat him one-on-one in basketball. It’s this sense of accomplishment.

How did this documentary come about? Why now?

It got here to be when once I was instructed to anticipate a name to get inducted into the Corridor of Fame. I mentioned, ‘Properly, you understand, I wished to movie it.’ As a result of my ladies have by no means seen me play earlier than and I simply wished to have the footage for myself. And it simply was just a little little bit of a deeper dialog. And that is the place we are actually.

What did that have ignite, the place you wished to take issues additional?

I used to be actually hesitant to do it. And once I noticed it, I began considering, throughout my profession, I by no means had an opportunity to replicate on any accomplishments. It was all the time, ‘What’s subsequent?’ Once you get that decision to go the Corridor of Fame, it’s actually the primary time I obtained an opportunity to take a seat down and simply replicate on my profession. So I believed, ‘When you’re going to do it, do it now.’ I form of simply dove proper in.

There are some parallels right here to The Final Dance. Mandalay Sports activities Media is a producer on each movies, and Michael Jordan even seems in your documentary. Did the success of The Final Dance assist propel it ahead or change something about it?

I don’t actually assume so. The Final Dance captivated the entire world. It aired when sports was completely shut down. You didn’t should be a sports activities fan to observe. There are lots of people which can be doing documentaries. And I all the time wish to study folks in all varieties of professions, and see their journey.

Your agent, Casey Shut, and your media platform, The Players’ Tribune, had been producers for the movie. How concerned had been you within the course of? Did you’ve gotten final say as to what went into the documentary?

Properly, I used to be concerned within the course of. I wouldn’t say I’ve the final say. The one factor that I wished to verify of is that if I’m going to present my perspective, in any specific state of affairs, anybody else that was concerned in that state of affairs, I wished to listen to from them, as properly. As a result of I didn’t need it to be a one-sided documentary. I need it to be actual.

The movie explores your background rising up biracial in Kalamazoo, Mich. You had been referred to as the N-word as a child. How does one thing like that have an effect on you?

A dose of actuality. No matter how a lot success you could assume you’ve gotten, there’s all the time going to be ignorant folks. It’s not simply erased since you’ve had any degree of success.

You additionally stalked about the way you and your loved ones had been all the time being stared at. How did that have an effect on you?

I all the time observed and I used to be continually trying round. I bear in mind chatting with my spouse, after we first met, she mentioned ‘You’re all the time trying round.’ It simply makes you assume again to while you’re a baby and also you’re seeking to see who’s staring. Clearly as you’ve gotten extra success in your profession, folks could also be on the lookout for different causes. It’s an consciousness factor. You couldn’t get away from it.

In one of many episodes, sports activities journalist Wallace Matthews says to the digital camera: “Derek Jeter doesn’t establish racially … He simply gave the impression to be racially impartial. Derek Jeter was nearly colorless, not solely bodily, but in addition in the way in which he spoke.” Within the documentary, that remark appeared to hassle you. Why?

It speaks for itself. You possibly can’t have a remark the place you’re talking for me while you’ve by no means requested the query about how I establish. It was one thing that caught me off guard and there was an actual and real response.

So many athletes discuss and are engaged with social points at present. You weren’t identified for that. Was it as a result of you weren’t requested these sorts of questions? Or was it extra since you had been involved about taking consideration away from baseball, and the job at hand?

Once I was enjoying, extra of the main target was on the sphere. That’s what my job was to do. And look, let’s be candid, I feel athletes these days are much more comfy talking out on their very own. They’ve their very own platforms to do it. And also you don’t essentially must be requested about it to present your opinion, which is nice. Once I was enjoying I wasn’t requested about it. However I feel there’s all varieties of methods that you would be able to converse up. I’ve had a basis for 20-plus years that’s touched on social points all through my profession, and nonetheless to at the present time. We had been nonetheless addressing it.

When you had been nonetheless enjoying in 2016, when Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in the course of the enjoying of the nationwide anthem, and somebody requested you to your response, what would you’ve gotten mentioned?

I might have mentioned it’s not about kneeling for the anthem. He was kneeling for a cause. I don’t assume it was anti-America. It was for one thing that he’s standing up for. And the identical factor once I was down in Miami, with the staff … peaceable protests. In my view, there’s nothing unsuitable with these. It attracts consideration to make you’ve gotten uncomfortable conversations. And that’s the one approach you’re going to have any change on the earth, is to have these conversations. There must be a begin.

One other main theme of the documentary is your relationship with Alex Rodriguez. The 2 of you had been shut while you had been youthful, however the relationship modified after he made unflattering comments about you in Esquire journal again within the early 2000s. Within the documentary, you discuss your capacity to chop folks off. You say you’re not pleased with it. The place did that capacity come from?

I don’t know. It’s simply how I feel. In my thoughts, you’ve gotten an in depth knit group of pals. I’ve had that very same shut group for a protracted, very long time. I’m a really, very loyal individual. I don’t essentially know if it’s factor, nevertheless it obtained me to the place I’m.

Within the movie, Alex says he stands by his feedback. He mentioned they had been “completely truthful.” Did that hassle you?

I’ve no points with Alex. None in any way. We’ve had conversations. The previous is the previous. It’s over and performed with. You’ve obtained to recollect, this was a protracted, very long time in the past. Individuals evolve over time and so they change. You could have life experiences. I’ve zero points with Alex.

Ought to Alex be in the Hall of Fame?

I don’t vote. I don’t vote so I feel it’s, time will inform.

You additionally tackle the 2011 New York Submit story that mentioned you left reward baskets for ladies after one-night stands. You deny that ever occurred. Once you learn that story on the time, what was your response?

There are numerous instances folks make issues up, proper? This one single story took on a lifetime of its personal. To at the present time, folks discuss it. That’s why I used to be requested about it. It’s simply, how do folks even provide you with it?

Is it good that you simply get to clear the air on some of these items in a documentary like this?

I wouldn’t essentially say it’s making an attempt to clear the air. I didn’t go into it saying I need to clear the air on this difficulty or that difficulty. We simply mentioned numerous issues that occurred over 20-plus years. And it was a query that got here up. Once I sat down and mentioned I used to be going to do it, I mentioned I used to be going to be trustworthy about it. So be at liberty to ask.

Turning to some stuff round baseball … Jeter Downs, the Boston Crimson Sox rookie named after you, hit his first profession dwelling run in Yankee Stadium at present [Sunday, July 17]. You’ve wished him good luck on Twitter … “except you’re enjoying the Yankees.” Are you cheerful to see him hit a house run?

Who gained?

The Yankees gained, 13-2.

Oh, properly there you’ve gotten it. Good for him.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has talked about putting in robo-umps in Main League Baseball by 2024. Are you in favor?

So long as they get it proper. You could have a lot know-how on the earth that will help you get it right, that I don’t see any cause why not.

When you had been made commissioner of baseball tomorrow, what would you attempt to change straight away?

Man, I simply don’t like shift. I feel it confuses followers. Watching video games, you see a tough hit ball to the fitting aspect or the left aspect, you assume it’s successful, however you see one other infielder midway within the outfield making a play, so I simply assume you’d have extra motion within the recreation if that was gone.

Earlier than this season you left your job as CEO of the Miami Marlins, saying in a press release that “the imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the franchise is completely different than the one I signed as much as lead.” What was completely different?

You’re going to have to attend to see the remainder of the documentary.

So the final two episodes cope with that?

[Laughs] Perhaps. You’ll must tune in.

You could have a brand new sportswear model out, referred to as Greatness Wins. Wayne Gretzky and Misty Copeland are additionally concerned. How did this come about?

I used to be approached by Chris Riccobono. He began Untuckit. He had an concept of beginning a brand new athletic model that actually targeted on high quality and match and efficiency and consistency and sustainability. And we had conversations for a very long time about it. And one factor that I wished to ensure that Chris understood was anytime you began speaking about greatness or reaching greatness, I feel numerous instances folks have a look at it as being a objective. I have a look at it as a mindset. That’s what the model is predicated off of. You recognize, I feel I’ve discovered fairly a bit all through my profession when it comes to high quality and match and efficiency. And there’s issues that you simply love. And there’s issues that you could be perform a little bit otherwise.

What do you hope folks take away from the documentary?

How I dealt with myself in New York was all by design. There was no blueprint for fulfillment. New York is a difficult place to play and I like that. It’s the perfect place on the earth to play, the perfect group with by far the perfect followers. That’s simply how I dealt with it whereas I used to be there. I’ve an opportunity to look again and provide you with my perspective of once I was going via it, and the way I give it some thought now.

You’re fairly trustworthy about how, in your dealings with the press, you tried to maintain issues easy and never create any controversies and distractions. Tom Brady not too long ago talked about this, about how “90% of what I say will not be what I’m considering.” As you say, it was all be design. However the public by no means obtained to know the “actual Derek.” Do you’ve gotten any regrets about your method?

No. That works. I used to be in New York for 20 years. I’m extraordinarily proud of how my profession performed out.

Extra Should-Learn Tales From TIME


Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.



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