Derek Jeter, always the diplomat. That’s part of the reason New York Yankees fans loved him so much. He never provided inflammatory commentary and he never gave the media a disingenuous headline to run with … but he was also never dishonest. He was the perfect subject for the most relentless media outlets in the world.
He went through tough times, too. The 2001 World Series loss. The 2003 World Series loss. The 2004 ALCS choke — the worst of all — to name a few.
Speaking of that, manager Aaron Boone admitted over the weekend that the Yankees’ mental skills coach showed the team highlights of the Boston Red Sox’ legendary 3-0 comeback against New York in that series as “motivation” for their 0-3 hole against the Houston Astros in this year’s ALCS.
The moment that was revealed, not a single Yankees fan wasn’t outraged. Such a tactic further proved to many that Boone is unfit for manager and that general manager Brian Cashman clearly doesn’t distill the right messaging for this team. And when the Yankees got swept, the feeling was worse.
On Wednesday night at Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation Dinner in New York City, the man himself was asked about the Yankees’ decision to do such a thing, and here’s what he had to say:
Derek Jeter has perfect response to Yankees showing 2004 ALCS highlights
Jeter gracefully saying he “didn’t know the context of it” to avoid putting Boone and Co. on full blast but then saying he’s still “sick to this day” even thinking about that series is about as direct you can get without assessing any blame.
But more importantly, Jeter’s sentiment is what hits home for all Yankees fans here. He’s sick thinking about it. He refuses to talk about it. He’s not ignoring the fact that it happened; that would be impossible (and delusional). But when you can avoid bringing up the horrific memories, from a morale standpoint, that’s probably the best way to handle adversity and preserve your mental health.
The fact that Yankees fans feel the same speaks to the pride they have for their team and the depth of the emotional involvement that goes into each successive season. It doesn’t matter if the current players on this team are/were Yankees fans. That couldn’t be further from the point.
That said, both Jeter and former manager Joe Torre supported Boone’s return to the Yankees in 2023 following Hal Steinbrenner’s announcement earlier in the day.
If either of them were calling the shots, though, we’d bet they’d be doing things differently. A lot differently.