Maybe it was Jeter…

Yanks…who told Bonderman how to pitch to the Yankees (or, at least, ARod)?

For a couple of days now, I’ve been discussing Jeter and his ‘leadership role’ on the team with friends.   Yankees fans are always so quick to jump to his defense and talk about what a great team leader he is.  Most of those folks are the same ones who mock Jason Varitek for the "C" on his chest, saying that doesn’t make you a captain.

Varitek had a  lousy year offensively, capped off by a trip to the disabled list.  The downfall of the Red Sox in 2006 can be traced back pretty much to the time that Tek went down.  Now, obviously, they weren’t missing his bat.  But the pitchers were missing the guy they trusted to call their games, and the rest of the team was missing their captain.  Long before he received his "C", his teammates referred to him in interviews as ‘the captain’.  He was OBVIOUSLY the guy who led the team on and off the field.  When there was a lousy game, he was the one who would talk about it.  He shouldered the blame for a lot of the poor pitching and he supported his teammates publicly at every turn.  That is how he became the ‘official’ captain. He earned it by being the leader in that clubhouse, again, on and off the field.

John Harper has an interesting piece in the New York Daily News today.  Now, I don’t know enough about Harper.  He co-wrote a book with Tony Massarotti, so if he’s anything LIKE Massarotti, well, I guess we can take what he writes with a huge grain of salt.  Even so, he brings up some valid points about Jeter not really doing his job this season.

Yes, I know he ended the season thisclose to winning the batting title and he’s one of the leading candidates for AL MVP.  But what of being a captain?  Is the only requirement for that in New York to play well?  Harper makes a great point about the ‘help’ ARod needed this year when the media and fans were so hell-bent on running ARod out of town, or at least to the nearest psychiatrist.  Where was his captain?  Where was Jeter to tell the press to back off?  Where was he to say to the fans, "Alex is going through a rough patch and he needs you guys to support him, NOT kick him when he’s down!"?

Isn’t the reason you’re made the captain of any team because you’re the one your teammates look to for that help and support?  Where was Jeter for ARod?

I said to a friend, a day or two ago, "I wonder what Jeter is telling his teammates.  I wonder if he’s saying, ‘You guys **** and I’m sick of doing it all myself’ or if he’s just saying, ‘Eh, we’ll get them next year’".  My friend responded with, "Have you looked at that dugout?  I don’t think he’s saying ANYTHING!".

Joe Torre will end up being the fall guy for the failures of the Yankees.  It’s unfair, but maybe things DO need to be shaken up over in the Bronx for them to return to their post-season winning ways?  I’m not so sure.  I get the feeling that the last six years have just shown us the way baseball is supposed to be…one happy, FUN, surprise.  But I digress.

For me, if you’re going to blame Torre for mismanaging the team, Jeter needs to get a little blame as well for not being the kind of leader they needed.

But, seemingly, short of John Harper, no one else in Yankeeland dare utter a bad word about ‘the captain’.  (Except for one unnamed, ex-teammate who wouldn’t give his name for fear of upsetting Jeter who claims "He won’t let Alex in.  Everyone in there knows it, and it bothers Alex and impacts the clubhouse.")

Put your name to the quote ‘ex-teammate’.  You don’t play with Jeter any more. He can’t hurt you.  Until you do, you just sound like a whiny ex-player looking to stir up trouble.

But we don’t need that quote to see that something is amiss.  I guess we’ll all find out soon enough.  What happens if Torre and ARod go and the Yankees still only make it to the first round of the post-season (or worse yet, DON’T make it to the post-season) in 2007?

Who gets the blame then?

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