Derek Jeter’s Diary: Mr. Met’s Mind Games and Possible Youkilis Sabotage
The baseball season is a long and lonely road. To preserve his sanity, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter keeps a diary. These are excerpts from The Captain’s private journal.
Thursday, May 23: Off day
There’s no point in complaining about the intrusiveness of the media. It is what it is. And what it is is this: They follow you around all day long, from sunup to sundown, three-egg-white brunch to champagne nightcap, from physical therapy to telephoto-lens-in-a-circling-helicopter-trying-to-see-your-Netflix-queue, trying to record every waking second of your life. All you can do is hurry between the SUV and the training complex, make sure your shades are always drawn, and delete all the really disappointing movies your ex-girlfriends are in, because you don’t need the Post reporting that you’ve one-starred Minka Kelly’s entire post-FNL career. Except for that one where Blair Waldorf was trying to become and then kill her, because that was actually kind of decent in a no-expectations, late-night-cable kind of way, and it kind of taps into your old nightmares about having two Minkas around. But you digress, because you’re the Captain of the most important franchise in sports, not a critic, despite the fact you’ve always thought you have pretty advanced taste in film.
The constant invasions of your privacy are all a part of the job. It’s far from your favorite part. Playing the game is your favorite part, and all the other parts are parts you put up with because you have to, and because you’ve been unsuccessful in your behind-the-scenes push to extend the baseball season to a 12-month, 324-game schedule. And when you’re hurt, having the press all up in your business is even less tolerable than usual. You can’t even go to Starbucks without it being a story. “Who’s Philip?” They’re all asking, because they saw that name on the cup I was carrying. Am I shouting out Scooter Rizzuto, and rotating through different Hall of Fame shortstops? Is that my secret alias? Am I a huge fan of Philip K. Dick? The truth, of course, is always more boring than the fiction. Some guy walked off with the skinny no-whip one-pump caramel soy latte with THE CAPTAIN written on the side, so I took his drink. I went home and checked eBay and the Captain cup sold for $15,000 that night. Which is well below market value. I hope “Philip” is enjoying the money, wherever he is. I know he enjoyed my drink, it’s delicious. Baristas are always telling me what a clutch order it is.
But like I said, there’s no point in complaining. You just write a diary entry, get it out of your system, and move on with your life. All part of the job.
Friday, May 24: at Tampa Bay Rays
You don’t even know what to say about all the injuries at this point. Every time you think the team is close to becoming whole again, something else happens. I’ve had my boot off for a couple of days now, Tex is about to start a minor league rehab assignment, and Grandy was finally beginning to heat up after about a week of being back in the lineup … and then he’s hit in the hand. Out another four weeks, they say. It’s heartbreaking for everybody. Last year, I probably would have blamed this on a gypsy curse. But this season I know better. You hate to indulge these kinds of unpleasant theories, but you also hate to withhold what is almost certainly the dark truth from the world, because like they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant, unless you have some surgical-grade Purell handy.
And there is quite clearly a leaguewide conspiracy to kill every vulnerable Yankee while I’m sidelined. Think about it. Grandy twice now. Teixeira. A-Rod. Cervelli. Nuney. Nova. Joba. Kuroda got hit on Wednesday, the Phelps kid today. I’m pretty sure Youkilis is involved in the plot somehow, because it’s just way too convenient that he got sent to Tampa just as $90 million in payroll was shifted there. My initial suspicions about him have only intensified. You never want to place a teammate under 24-hour surveillance, but his car has been LoJacked and his phone bugged. So far that hasn’t turned up anything more solid than a couple of unauthorized trips to The Daughters of Sam Horny, a terrible strip club near the Sox training camp in Fort Myers, which keeps getting shut down for health-code violations. But eventually he’ll slip and we’ll have some answers. This can’t continue.
This won’t continue.
I have a team to protect.
Saturday, May 25: at Tampa Bay Rays
I get home after physical therapy and there’s an unexpected guest on my couch.
“How’d you get in here, Alex?”
“I had a key made. No big deal.”
“I didn’t say you could have a key, Alex.”
“It’s no big deal, Jetes. The east-wing housekeeper made it for me.”
“She’s not allowed to do that.”
“It’s fine. We’ve been dating for three weeks now. She has very strong shoulders. Like a wrestler.”
“I’m going to have to let her go, Alex. She can’t be giving you keys.”
“That’s tough but fair, Jetes. I’ll be sad to see her go. It wasn’t going to work long term for us.”
“Why are you here?”
“Did you see that I sold my place in Miami?”
“I hadn’t heard.”
“$15 million profit. I’m pretty good with money, Jetes. You should let me manage your portfolio.”
“I’m happy with my guy.”
“Your loss. Hey, what should I do with that $15 mil? It’s kind of mad money. I was thinking of commissioning some more art.”
“That sounds like a great idea, Alex.”
“I’m so glad you think so, Jetes. Downtown Miami could really use a 30-foot statue of me. But instead of my head, I’ll have a bull’s head. And huge eagle wings.”
“It’s good to give back, Jetes. The community’s given me so much.”
“I’ll take my keys now, Alex.”
“Fair enough. I’ll have the artist send the sketches over so you can give some notes, if you want.”
“You got it, Jetes. Tell Martha I’m sorry it’s not working out.”
“I’m thinking maybe dragon wings instead of eagle. Dragons are hotter right now.”
“Yup, definitely dragon wings. Like six of them.”
Sunday, May 26: at Tampa Bay Rays
It’s hard to watch CC struggle like this. He’s such a proud warrior. A true ace. If he goes out there and gets lit up, like he did today, he owns it. Never makes excuses. He answers all the questions about his reduced velocity with patience and dignity. If he needs to live at 90-92 instead of 94-96, he’ll do that, but he still needs to make his pitches. He’s the first one to say it. Of course, no one’s asking about his reduced weight. You never want to pretend to be a licensed nutritional kinesiologist, but it’s hard not to connect the fastball loss to the weight loss. The big guy’s been a little slow to put back on the pounds he always loses in spring training, which usually helps him get his velo up. But we’re working on it. Boonie’s secretly been adding Ripped Fuel to his Grape-Nuts (the clubbies tell me he’s off Cap’n Crunch entirely, which is troubling — never change what’s always worked for you). He’ll have his good heat back in no time. The team really needs him safely over three bills. There’s plenty of time to eat in a way that won’t explode your heart in retirement.
Monday, May 27: at New York Mets
You never want to miss a Subway Series. It’s times like this that make rehab extra tough. Yankees versus Mets is a special rivalry, even if one side has been decimated by financial problems and hasn’t won anything since 1986. No matter what’s happening off the field, you want to be out there battling your intracity rivals, conquering visitors in a brand-new stadium somehow still dominated by your fans. You feel for the Wilpons. It can’t be easy to go through what they did. It’s humiliating. Especially when the Steinbrenners secretly purchased most of their assets so the Mets could make payroll, then burned everything right in front of their eyes. Or so I’ve heard. I’m not privy to the details of any secret transactions or bonfires involving formerly priceless art or family heirlooms. They pay me to play and to lead, not to watch as ownership preys on another franchise’s tragic misfortune. You leave the business end of things to the front office.
Tuesday, May 28: at New York Mets
The Mets invited Mariano to throw out the first pitch. You might say to yourself, “Oh, what a classy gesture to celebrate a local hero,” but we’re playing a game tonight. There’s no room for ceremony. Just competition. And winning. Mo’s too nice a guy to refuse the gesture, so I wished he’d called me before agreeing to it. As Captain, I’d have had no problem telling them, “Mo will throw the last pitch of the game. After breaking three consecutive bats.”
Mo threw out the first pitch. And the last pitch.
But he blew his first save of the season.
Their ceremonial mind games worked.
I really need to get back to my team.