Derek Jeter's long-standing ability to brush off the daily annoyances and distractions that come with playing in New York took a little bit of a hit during his contract negotiations this winter.
Jeter got peeved about the way his private business was being hung out to dry in front of the entire world. His ability as a player and value to the franchise was being questioned, leading to a rare public venting of his feelings once the contract was all finished. Given the freshness of those wounds, you had to wonder how Jeter would respond to Monday's broadside from Hank Steinbrenner.
Hank, who it must be stressed has absolutely nothing to do with the management of the Yankees, held court with reporters always willing to disregard the previous disclaimer and told them that the reason the Yankees didn't win the World Series in 2010 was because players were more interested in building mansions than winning titles. That was an obvious jab at Jeter, whose home in Tampa goes well beyond the mansion label, but the Captain showed Tuesday that he's back to his unflappable self.
Smiling broadly, he sloughed off Steinbrenner's slam without any rancor or ruffled feathers. He also made a point about why the Yankees didn't win that was already obvious to anyone whose only goal in life isn't to get their own name in the papers in a futile effort to live up to the imposing image of their father.
"When you don't win, people always say that the team wasn't hungry. We got beat by a team that was better than us in that series. That's the bottom line. I wouldn't say there was a lack of hunger; I just think we just didn't play as well. That's why we lost."
Jeter was respectful to Hank, although no one would have objected if he reacted the opposite way. Lil' Stein isn't someone who should be taken seriously. Sure, he's entertaining and good for a laugh, but so is the guy at the end of the bar who has had a few too many drinks. You listen, laugh and maybe even interact with the guy, but you don't lose any sleep about his thoughts on the state of the world.
The rest of Steinbrenner's Monday rant confirmed just how little one needs to pay attention to his ramblings. He railed against revenue sharing by excoriating the smaller market teams that make a living off the monies generated by big ticket clubs like the Yankees. At no point did he say he was speaking from experience on such matters as a man whose entire adult livelihood hinges on the work done by his father.
He also said that baseball needed to stop putting teams in small market cities or start moving them out of minor markets to be successful. He's right. Let's move the Rays or the Pirates to New York City. What's that, Hank? You have a problem with that, too?
As the longtime captain, Jeter is the leader of the Yankees. We can all thank him for leading us to the right way to view Hank Steinbrenner as well.