By: Marcos Sandoval
Setting the Scene:
It's the nineties, specifically 1992, and The Yankees have just drafted Derek Jeter. Later on Jeter meets another person, roughly a year younger, at a College baseball game. His name was Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez would go on to get drafted the following year by The Seattle Mariners.
The both quickly established themselves as powerful figures. Jeter helping the Yankees win the 1996 World Series as the AL Rookie of the Year. While Rodriguez become an All-Star and a batting champion.
As like their careers, their friendship blossomed and became well known. It was a thing. They loved each other so much to the point that it would bother their teammates. They would sleep in each other's houses when their teams would play each other. It even became a joke in their clubhouses.
The two were inseparable. Even appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated together.
The are many but let's start with the simple. A-Rod was better at baseball. Rodriguez made his mark on a team with the likes of powerhouses such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. But the Mariners would really go far in the postseason or just missed October in general.
Jeter was much more famous. He was still an outstanding player but his numbers just lagged behind Rodriguez's. He was part of great Yankees team that won the World Series during the 1998, 1999, and 2000. Even defeating A-Rod's Mariners in the ALCS.
The Contract Talk:
Rodriguez became a free agent in the winter of 2000 and was looking for a big money contract. Yankees were obviously interested in him and keeping their dominance, but they couldn't have two shortstops since that position belonged to Jeter. The Yankees would want A-Rod to move to 3B, but A-Rod declined, instead signing for Texas on the biggest contract at the time: 10- years, $252 Million Dollars.
Jeter was also in the process of signing his own mega long and mega money contract with the Yankees.
But Alex Rodriguez had some words to say.
He ruled out Jeter on his possibility to match his contract: “He just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively he doesn't do all those things.”
Jeter dismissed the comments and stated he was out to break salary records but championship records. Later on he signed a 10-year, $189 million dollars.
Rodriguez kept talking. Stating that Jeter never had to lead a team, never been the main focus of a team, and was blessed with talent all around him. Not the best things to tell the media about your so-called “BFF”.
Jeter was surprised at the comments and told media that he would have to talk to Rodriguez about his intentions with those comments. Jeter “supposedly” prolonged a meal to avoid talking or confrontation with Rodriguez after the comments. But ultimately spoke with him and told media that they would stay friends and that he gave him the benefit of the doubt.
An All-Star break and gane saw Rodriguez introduce his date for the occasion, pop star Joy Enriquez, which would eventually become Jeter's girlfriend. Not a good thing to do to your “ BFF”, but I digress because apparently Rodriguez was cool about it. I mean now he has the Queen of the Latinas, Jennifer Lopez.
I swear these two would have also tried to one up each other in the Girlfriend department if they wanted to. Jeter with Mariah Carey and A-Rod with J-Lo.
A-Rod to the Yanks?:
After that All-Star Game, it was quiet until about 2003. Until Trade talks started swirling about. Which resulted in Alex Rodriguez becoming the new 3rd Baseman of the New York Yankees.
A glum looking Jeter dressed A-Rod in his new Yankees uniform. It was kind of awkward. They both new their relationship would be under scrutiny. They continued making jokes about the whole situation. Rodriguez's comments on the past, the fact that the bond that was at one point inseparable was not the same anymore, kept the media around them. Which pissed off Jeter.
A-Rod would go 2-17 in the 2004 ALCS clash against Boston. Infamously slapping the ball away from the pitcher, causing an out. He would be the face of that years troubling October. The Red Sox would use Jeter’s name to pick on A-Rod… on purpose.
A-Rod would create drama and stories, and Jeter would avoid them and not support his teammate. It's how this thing went on for a while.
Tension on the Field:
Jeter would not support or show enthusiasm on the field for his teammate. At all. Getting upset when people would tell him to cheer more. That infamous pop-up which saw them bump into each other, saw Jeter stare furiously at Rodriguez and not even pick up the ball. Jeter resented the fact that A-Rod would speak on personal matters.
A-Rod. 2008-2009 was not good. Yankees had missed playoffs for the first time in Jeter's career. A-Rod was busted for steroids years prior. And badly injured himself.
But it could've been the best thing that happened to their relationship.
A-Rod came back hot. In Jeter's eyes, he came back a changed man. He came back more humbled, focused, and joyful.
Ultimately that year was good. Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's hit record as a Yankee, Rodriguez happily by his side. They were seen dining with each other! My God what an accomplishment! They ultimately got their first championship together.
There is still some tension in the air. When A-Rod retired, Jeter reached but didn't hear back. Both stars later in 2017 aged to a CNBC interview at a charity event but were shocked to find out it would be together. It was honestly the most awkward thing I have seen in awhile. The two could bare look at eachother, and the discomfort could be felt through your screen. That same month Rodriguez was the only people absent from Jeter's Jersey retirement.