Yankees camp was all abuzz on Wednesday morning because Derek Jeter was going to have a press conference and finally address the contract situation that many in the media are desperately trying to turn into a storyline for the new season. Nevermind that there doesn't seem to be a Yankee fan or intelligent baseball observer who is actually the slightest bit concerned that Jeter, Mariano Rivera or Joe Girardi are going anywhere, they will turn this into a distraction or die trying.
Start working on the eulogies. To the surprise of only those who thought that Jeter and Manny Ramirez performed some kind of "Freaky Friday" swap of personalities during the offseason, the shortstop gave no one anywhere to go during Wednesday's session. He addressed the impending end of his contract, of course, but that only gave him a chance to spout off some one-liners that will warm the cockles of the hearts of Jeter lovers everywhere.
"This is the only organization I've ever wanted to play for...I signed a long deal, I'm still under contract with that deal, and they have the right to do whatever they want. ... I want to play as long as I can, as long as I'm having fun, and as long as I'm being productive...I've never been a free agent; I've never wanted to be a free agent."
It's like an old band playing a set of their greatest hits to an adoring crowd. It's Spring Training and baseball isn't the only thing Jeter needs to brush up on. It's been months since he's had to answer nonsense questions, so this was a good tuneup for the grind of the regular season.
He ended by saying he wouldn't talk about the contract again. It takes two to tango on that front, of course, but Jeter's pretty good at avoiding questions he doesn't want to answer. It's a skill that serves him well in the clubhouse and one that will serve him well should he ever decide to try out married life.
Jeter's story is the dominant one on Wednesday, but it is hardly the only manufactured controversy getting attention. Brian Cashman, in a radio interview, made it clear that Curtis Granderson will be the team's center fielder this season. Who could have seen that coming?
Let's see, they traded a good bit of treasure for Granderson, they're paying him like a starter at a key position and he's going to be playing everyday. Brett Gardner fills the team with such confidence that he'll be splitting time with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames. Gosh, you'd need some kind of super-duper Ouija board to figure out this kind of mystery.
You want more? We got more. The New York Post tried to bait Alex Rodriguez into saying something about the team's decision not to give into Johnny Damon's salary demands, but A-Rod wouldn't bite. He'll have other chances.
The gut feeling is that the "Yankees should have signed Damon regardless of cost" argument will come up a lot this season, figure after every loss and any win that doesn't feature Granderson or Nick Johnson doing something amazing. It's a convenient straw man since there's no actual way to prove the results would be different simply because Damon wasn't trying to find something fun to do in Motown.
That's all for now, although something is likely coming right around the corner. If not we'd just have to have boring discussions about how good the Yankees are and no one wants that. Not when you can revisit the Joba/Hughes debate.