The most nonsensical idea being floated this spring by the media, the fans and the participants is the mere possibility that Derek Jeter will ever leave the Yankees; that the Yankees would ever let him leave; that this historic Yankees icon would put a different major league uniform on his person.
You'll sooner see Sarah Palin building a rocket ship and taking a solo flight to Mars before you'll see Derek Jeter do anything other than re-sign with the Yankees.
How is anyone taking the notion seriously? The Yankees are echoing all the corporate junk that GM Brian Cashman so desperately wanted to instill when he took full control of the baseball operations. To paraphrase, they're saying that Jeter's situation will be resolved at the end of 2010 as per club policy; the decision based on finances and reality; what the club needs; how much money he wants; blah, blah, blah.
Jeter himself has been mostly mum on the negotiations partially because he doesn't want to sully his carefully honed and refined image by engaging in a public battle and game of hardball with the club; partially because the fight is being----and will continue to be----fought for him without him uttering a peep.
With any other player, Cashman would make the call. Even with Mariano Rivera, if the decision is made that it's time to move on and as wrong as it would be, the club would be able to survive in the regular season with Joba Chamberlain closing. Playoff success wouldn't be as assured without Rivera----the difference between the Yankees and their main competitors in the 90s, the Braves, was Rivera, period----they'd be okay. With Jeter, it's different and it's not because he's such a great clutch player and leader; not because he's the glue of the team; the captain; the professional who does everything he has to do to win; but because he just is.
There aren't many players who can be defined simply by who they are, but Derek Jeter is one.
Does anyone, anywhere need to hear the bulletpoints on his resume before knowing who and what he is by saying those two words: Derek Jeter? The name is the player and the player is the name. And by now, Jeter is the Yankees; and the Yankees are Derek Jeter.
For everything the Yankees have been since Jeter's arrival in 1996, the two entities are intertwined; one could not exist without the other. There would've been no renaissance of a Yankee dynasty without Jeter; no Joe Torre legend; no five championships.
Without the Yankees, Jeter would still be a great player if he'd spent his career as a Dodger; as a Royal; as a Pirate; as a Met, but it wouldn't' be the same. If he'd played anywhere else, the name Derek Jeter wouldn't automatically elicit admiration and respect by fans, media, players, coaches and executives simply by saying it. The knowledge of his total package of performance, professionalism and behavior to craft the persona that is aboveboard in a team and individual context and has made him who he is and what the Yankees have been with him as their face.
The hardline negotiating practices of Cashman are all well and good, but to me it shows a lack of respect to what Jeter has done for the franchise to treat him as if he's just another employee.
Does anyone truly believe that if it comes down to zero hour and Jeter is implying that he might leave if he doesn't get what he wants----and if Cashman makes the determination that he has to let Jeter leave----that the Steinbrenners will allow it? That Hank and Hal will sit by idly while Jeter signs with the Dodgers? The Cardinals? The Mets? Really?
The articles that are popping up now with the idea that the contract is going to be a battle between the sides based on the viability of a player entering his late-30s and the amount of money he wants; what they feel he deserves; and what's in the budget are the stuff of bad fiction. It's garbage. There will be no budget for keeping Derek Jeter. As classy as Jeter is portrayed, he also plays hardball off the field when necessary. If that means he's going to use his status to squeeze an extra year and another $25 million on top of the Yankees offer, he'll do it, and they'll give it to him.
Neither side has a choice.
Derek Jeter will be a Yankee forever. He'll play into his 40s; surpass every number in the Yankees record book; and eventually be managing the team. Jeter himself would never, ever ruin his aesthetic by joining another organization and the Yankees won't let him wear another cap; or have another club's name on his Hall of Fame plaque.
The two need one another, and to think that the club is going to let Brian Cashman make that call is giving a little too much credit to the GM. This is not a baseball decision; it's an organizational decision that will be made by the owners based on what they need on and off the field----and they'll make it; and he'll stay.
Enough with the stories.
Derek Jeter will NEVER leave the Yankees. No matter what.
And that's the way it should be.
Now and forever.