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| || ||In the glow of Derek Jeter's resurgence over the last season-and-a-half and the frenetic rush of a surprise pennant race between the Yankees and Orioles, it's easy to forget the cold free agent winter of 2010-11. |
That's when the baseball business was laid bare in a staredown between the team's brass and one of its Mount Rushmore-esque legends, Jeter. He was always destined to be a Yankee-for-life, wasn't he?
Only when Jeter was a free agent, it turned out it wasn't so easy. It's a business, the Yankees reminded him, multiple times. You haven't played great lately, either.
So who is surprised now when Jeter sits in the dugout at Yankee Stadium, as he authors another superstar season, with ESPN's Rick Reilly and serves the Yanks a taste of their own business theory.
As part of a 15-minute powwow last Friday before the Rays series, Reilly asked: "Peyton Manning changed teams this season after 14 seasons with one team. Could you see yourself doing that?"
"Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes," Jeter replied. "It's a business. People forget that."
It is indeed a business and good for Jeter for understanding that even at a time when his team is striving to avoid the embarrassment of blowing the 10-game lead they held in July. The boardroom stuff is separate from the field and no one would dare suggest that Jeter's self-awareness that he's a businessman who plays a game for a living means that he's not producing between the foul lines.
If any fan is outraged by the idea that Jeter could see himself in another uniform, well, get over it. Spending your career in one uniform is rare. Jeter didn't tell Reilly that he's eager to shop his services or that he liked Marlins' teal or used to draw pictures of himself in a Red Sox jersey.
He's a businessman who wears pinstripes and is paid well for it. He doubtless is better thought of as a player and pitchman because he's been a Yankee all these years, but he's been a pretty good player and ambassador for the Yankees, too.
After the contentious negotiations, he signed a three-year, $51-million deal through the 2013 season. It includes an $8 million option for 2014 that could go up another $3.5 million with a top-6 MVP finish and a Silver Slugger award this season, distinct possibilities considering his .322 average and eighth 200-hit season.
At the news conference to announce his deal a few days before spring training started, Jeter said he was "angry how some of this went," referring to the contract negotiations. He didn't like how the talks got public, how he was told he could test the market even though he had told the team he did not want to.
Eventually, the two sides agreed to reconcile. Jeter said he was happy with the deal and, after a slow start to the 2011 season, the Yankees have to be ecstatic about the way their 38-year-old shortstop has played.
Yankee GM Brian Cashman would not comment on the Jeter-Reilly interview Thursday night, saying in an email to the Daily News, "No comment necessary."
But Cashman clearly understands the business side of it.
He's never been overly romanced by a player's resume, letting go of big stars such as Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon after terrific postseasons and a 2009 World Series title.
The Yankees are hoping for another one of those this season, too. They'll do it, as Jeter notes, as businessmen, as well as ballplayers.
Read more: Yankee captain Derek Jeter says he's open to the possibility of playing for another team: report - NY Daily News
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if the yankees would ever let this happen