I know it's the heart of football season and both basketball and hockey are in full swing too, but there is just something about Hot Stove Baseball talk that the other sports don't have. It seems almost as if some of you get into it more than when the games are being played.
The public's attention this off season is centered on New York. The NY Mets have just completed a total change in their regime but that pales in comparison to the hype of the Yankees potentially signing Cliff Lee or the saga involving the resigning of their team captain, the living legend himself, Yankee immortal short stop, Derek Jeter.
While the NY Yankees may have the most money in the league and the most fans in the league too, the sum of Yankee haters and fans of other teams in the nation clearly outweighs Yankee fans.
How many of you out there not in the New York metropolitan area are soaking in the growing antagonism between the Yankee brass and camp Jeter? It's hard for me to tell because I'm located in New Jersey pretty close to the situation, but going by the emails we receive, the majority of you out there would like nothing better than for this to turn as ugly as humanly possible.
The thing here is, there really isn't much to talk about. Jeter is who he is, he's done what he's done for the Yankees this far in his career, he's the age that he's at and the Yankees have offered what they have. There aren't any other offers for Jeter to choose from at the moment and consequently the threat of him playing elsewhere and the Yankees experiencing bad PR is slim to none at this time.
What has really distanced the two sides of late has been the fact that Jeter's agent, Casey Close, compared his client's importance to the Yankee franchise to that of Babe Ruth. This has really infuriated some of the Yankee b
rass who interestingly enough have pointed out that even Babe Ruth took a pay cut at age 36. The Yankees are doing their best to acknowledge Jeter's previous contributions and his importance to the franchise while at the same time trying to blend in the fact that they know there is no way that type of on field productivity will continue during his next contract. Jeter's side doesn't want to talk about what his on field performance will be, they simply want to get paid for what he means to the franchise.
While you can totally understand Jeter's argument, and you can't blame the guy for trying, it's not hard to understand the Yankees position either. After all, who really wants to be the one to have to foot the bill for the Queen's services if she's only going to be a figure head.
Tuesday I spoke about what Bernie Williams did in his negotiations and that Jeter needed to do the same. While they are certainly different, the Williams / Yankee situation was the closest thing to this in real life that we've experienced in recent years with the Yankees. In this instance however, there just isn't anything to negotiate at this point and unless part of the equation changes, there is no reason to believe any progress can or will be made. The Yankees have no reason to raise their offer and Jeter knows that the Yankees can't possibly pull the current one and that it will remain there for his taking until opening day; thus the makings of a stalemate.
The only way these negotiations can move along is if Derek Jeter brings another team into the mix. As I mentioned yesterday, as comical as it might seem, the only team in MLB that this would make sense for would be the Boston Red Sox. Before you say, "there is no eff'ing way", don't underestimate the power of the Yankees insulting Jeter. It's not just Yankee pride he has, he has Jeter pride too.
And why would the Red Sox do this? It's simple.
1) If Jeter ever did play for the Red Sox, it would be a "Reverse Babe Ruth."
2) If the negotiations prompted the Yankees to trip over themselves and up their offer, the Red Sox would get the Yankees to blow unnecessary money. While this wouldn't help the Red Sox, it sure wouldn't hurt.
Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine the upside down baseball world with Derek Jeter playing for the Red Sox, against the Yankees, in a Red Sox uniform. First try it in a home uniform at Fenway Park. Now try it in an away uniform at Yankees Stadium. Lastly, give it a shot with Jeter stepping to the plate in the 9th inning of the 7th game of the ALCS with two outs and a runner in scoring position. What the hell, make that runner Johnny Damon as he signs back with the Red Sox. Ok, open your eyes.
If that doesn't knock your aunt Connie's socks off, I don't know what would. Ca'mon Derek, pull a reverse Babe Ruth and see what happens. You get paid more either way. - Mike Cardano
Mike is the founder of Around the Horn Baseball & Xtra Point Football.
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