I realize I am not exactly breaking new ground with this post, but I have been fascinated by the media coverage of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter this season, and how it compares to the coverage in years past. For years, Derek Jeter has been the media’s golden boy: the hardworking, selfless captain who comes through in the clutch, says the right things, and always gets the girl. In Alex Rodriguez’s early years in New York, however, the media treatment was brutal: he was portrayed as a narcissitic, me-first player who was more concerned with compiling stats than winning games.
The pressure on A-Rod largely eased up after the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, while the media scrutiny of Derek Jeter intensified last season during his down season and impending free agency. The media circus, combined with Jeter’s tough start to 2011 has led to somewhat of a role reversal. Now, Jeter has become the bad guy who held out for more money than he was worth, won’t give up his leadoff spot despite his poor performance, and stopped taking an active leadership role. Ian O’Connor’s biography of Jeter may certainly contribute to (or feed off of) this changing impression of Jeter. The portrayal of Alex Rodriguez of late (recent offensive struggles aside) could hardly be more positive. Look at this excerpt of an ESPN-NY article from Wallace Matthews:
Alex Rodriguez may not be the New York Yankees’ captain, but lately he has taken to playing the role of one in the clubhouse…A few moments later, after Nunez had mumbled out his mea culpa, it was A-Rod’s turn to act as the elder statesman of the clubhouse, delivering a de facto pep talk to Nunez, expounding on the nuances of playing shortstop — you will remember he used to play the position a long time ago — and taking the time to remind his listeners, “Hitting is something I know how to do very well.”
It was a remarkable performance, poised and articulate and not a little presumptuous, but it was perhaps more than that. Rodriguez, of course, has a contract that will keep him in Yankee pinstripes until 2017. Jeter, who just came through a contentious contract negotiation this winter, has a deal that runs out three years earlier.
Unless something momentous happens to change the future course of Yankee history, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be playing for the Yankees after Jeter has retired to his compound in Tampa, or is doing color commentary for the YES Network, or–the most dreadful possibility of all–has moved on to another team, the way Babe Ruth finished up his career in the costume of the Boston Braves.
As such, someone is going to have to succeed Jeter as the Yankees’ captain, and from the looks of things, A-Rod has tossed his cap into the race.
Ordinarily I don’t pay much attention to Matthews or his pot-stirring compatriots, but this article made me think a little bit. Assuming Derek Jeter retires (or leaves the Yankees) after 2014, the Yankee captaincy will be vacant. Assuming Jorge Posada has also retired or left, the potential list of Yankee captains is pretty short. Assuming it has to be a position player, Rodriguez could be the leading candidate, if his on-field performance continues to be strong, and his off-field actions continue to reflect positively on him.
I imagine a home-grown player would be preferred as captain, but will there really any tenured homegrown alternative? Robinson Cano would be the longest-tenured home grown player, but given how he is portrayed in the media, he may lack the leadership qualities required for the position (though it would be interesting to see the captaincy go to a foreign-born player). Brett Gardner may be “gritty” enough to be a captain (a la Jason Varitek), but does he have the ability to lead by example on the field while being a leader off of it? I’m not sure, and the Yankees would probably prefer to have a star player as captain. If Jesus Montero comes up and makes a big splash, he could be in consideration as well, though once again the foreign-born stigma applies.
Assuming non-homegrown players could be considered for the position Rodriguez would have to be the leading candidate. I could see somebody like Curtis Granderson being an interesting candidate (mostly because he comes off as such a nice guy). As would Russell Martin, if he performs well enough to be the Yankees’ catcher of the future as well as present (catchers often seem to be good candidates for captain).
A lot of this discussion depends on how Alex handles his twilight years. If he is able to maintain a high level of performance (or gracefully acknowledge his decline) he could become a more attractive candidate. If he goes back to the arrogant overpaid Alex Rodriguez of old, however, then the negative media coverage would prevent him from ever being considered.
I realize that a baseball captain is not a particularly important position, with most of its impact in symbolism. There’s also no compelling reason that the Yankees even need a captain, so it’s possible that they could simply go without one for a few years until a suitable candidate emerges. Nonetheless, this could be an interesting storyline (not narrative, which has quickly become the most overused word in the Yankee blogosphere) to follow over the next few seasons. So grab your popcorn (or preferably have Cameron Diaz feed it to you) and watch the fun as it unfolds.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees