Alex Rodriguez Coming Back Will Magnify Jeter’s Absence

by Nik Swartz | Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015
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The New York Yankees haven’t even started Spring Training yet and the Alex Rodriguez circus is in full swing. Not only has the majority of media attention been about Rodriguez heading to camp, now he is gracing the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s March issue, which really is just the beginning of what could be a bigger media frenzy than anything that’s happened the past two seasons in New York with the retirements of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. Rodriguez and everything he brings with him will make the Yankees organization yearn even more for the presence of El Capitan Derek Jeter this season.

Obviously the organization will miss Jeter in 2015 for many reasons, but none more important than what he did off the diamond. Jeter was everything any team would want in a leader and teammate; he was also always the consummate professional in his 20 years with the Yankees. Rodriguez on the other hand is the antithesis of everything Jeter represented as a MLB player and not having Jeter around to even out all that Rodriguez is, could really hurt the Yankees this season.

Jeter and Rodriguez may have played nice in front of the cameras, and Jeter is too decent of a man to pounce on Rodriguez, but it never was a secret the two were not the best of friends. There were always rumors the two didn’t get along that well, which really doesn’t matter off the field, but Jeter always knew how to handle Rodriguez, his Yankees teammate, as well as all the media attention he brought with him all of the seasons they were together.

Even though it seems Rodriguez accomplished getting the majority of Yankees fans to forgive him for all his transgressions, as well as the year-long suspension, the Yankees organization could not have been happy Rodriguez chose to again buck the system by not listening to their suggested way of dealing with this whole situation. If you haven’t read Rodriguez’s apologetic letter click here.

It’s a nice gesture that Rodriguez did anything remotely sympathetic and it does seem that he is sorry, but his letter dropping wasn’t the way to handle this. The Yankees offered Rodriguez the stadium as a platform for a reason, and that reason is similar to why the New England Patriots handled “deflategate” the way they did.

By having a press conference prior to Spring Training, Rodriguez would have had the chance to answer and deal with the majority of the questions people have for him. He would have had the chance to deal with the brunt of the scandal in New York, so he and the teammates could concentrate on baseball when they got to Tampa; instead he left the door wide open for that three-ring circus to follow him and his teammates to Spring Training.

This will be the first Yankees Spring Training in over two decades without Jeter, which would have been tough even if Rodriguez, the magnet for media attention and drama, wasn’t back with the team. Not having Jeter in Tampa, to filter and be the front man for the team, to deal with all that is coming back with Rodriguez could really damage this team before one inning of baseball is played this season.

A few Yankees players have come out and said the right things about Rodriguez coming back this season, but that doesn’t make it anything other than those players trying not to be the distraction Rodriguez is.

Good players, and good teammates, will have each other’s backs no matter what, but it does not mean that behind closed doors things will be copasetic during the spring, or during the dog days of summer.

Some of these players have no idea what to expect, or just how insane the media circus that surrounds Rodriguez is, and some just want to focus on having a great season, which is totally understandable. Not knowing what to expect, or never having had to deal with Rodriguez without Jeter around makes it a lot easier to say the right things about Rodriguez’s return in February.

Jeter has always been a great face to put in front of the camera whenever the Yankees have been dealing with anything, but he had always been especially graceful with the way he handled all that comes with Rodriguez.

Not having Jeter around this spring and season will do one of two things to the Yankees, it will either totally throw the players off mentally, which would be horrible for a team that needs so much to go right to have a legitimate shot this season, or this could help pull out the player who will step into the shoes as the new leader of the Yankees clubhouse; for the sake of the 2015 season, hopefully it is the latter.

Regardless of what comes from the circus better known as A-Rod’s career as a Yankee, Jeter’s absence will be most prominent if, or rather when, things do get messy with Rodriguez.

Follow Nik Swartz on Twitter @Sweetnesz13


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Nik Swartz
About the Author

Graduate of Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Psychology, currently a counselor in Philadelphia. I started writing professionally in 1999 as the Penn State beat writer for the Milton Standard/Lewisburg Daily Journal in Pa. I have worked at eight daily newspapers as a Sports Writer/Editor - covering all high school sports, the NFL, professional baseball and professional hockey. A few sites I've written and/or contributed articles for include Rant Sports, Bleacher Report, FanSided and Pro Football Spot. Follow Nik on Twitter @Sweetnesz13.

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