The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor book review: this unauthorized biography of the Yankees shortstop is the definite narrative of Jeter’s life and career as culled from the public record and interviews/public quotes from people that have known Jeter from childhood until the 2010 offseason, when he signed his extension.
O’Connor is NOT a biographer like Jane Levy, who will hire private eyes, dig up dirt, and conduct intense personal interviews with the subject and family members. O’Connor is NOT Richard Ben Cramer, who is an icon slayer. O’Connor does a stand-up job with organizing the public record with some key interviews, but he was unable to penetrate Derek’s force shield.
The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter was heavily marketed in the offseason, with headlines once again going after the relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to sell some books. Let me disclose that I passed on the book because I thought it was old news and that Ian O’Connor was a Daily News hack (I’m sorry Ian, but I’m sure you understand that tabloids get no respect). But my family picked up this Derek Jeter book (they of course mistakenly believed it was his autobiography at first) and recommended it to me. I admit that I could not put it down. I’m a Yankees fan, though, so I have no idea if non-baseball fans would dig it. Then again, it’s not marketed to them, so who cares?
O’Connor writes at a very brisk pace, Jeter’s life is told chronologically and the book is loaded with quotes from almost everyone involved in his career. That being said since O’Connor tells us that Jeter never leaves a paper trail, doesn’t allow photos of his nightlife, and his women don’t kiss and tell, we’ll never truly get the whole picture of his life due to his obsession with privacy. In other words, you must understand that Jeter does not endorse this book and more than likely would deny stories, reinterpret events, or discount stories. It would not surprise me if Derek wrote a mental list of people never to speak to again for cooperating with O’Connor.
The book confirms my view of Jeter as the ultimate politically correct teammate who demands that everyone works as hard as he does. He’s nicer than DiMaggio, and pretty much someone who you would want to be your son, son-in-law, brother, etc.
O’Connor set out this book in part to answer the question of WHY is Derek Jeter such a New York icon and WHY he is so beloved and respected by his peers and WHAT makes him tick. I guess the answers are scattered throughout the book, because the only thing I could come up with is that he is a good looking guy who never loses his cool, leads by example, works hard, and is a great hitter. I mean, what’s the difference between Jeter’s professional work ethic vs Don Mattingly’s or Mariano Rivera’s or Tino Martinez’s? It’s his personality, plus he’s a chick magnet. And men have crushes on him. Seriously, Joe Torre, David Cone, Paul O’Neill, A-Rod, Tino..everybody…
It helps that as an Enneagram Type 9, Derek doesn’t say much so old coaches and reporters can instantly project their idealized version of a perfect black man to him. They did it to Doc Gooden of the Mets in the 1980′s and he couldn’t handle the pressure of living up to such an image. Derek didn’t care.
In that way, he and President Obama have a lot in common (they both also have said they can relate to all races and walks of life since they were both discriminated against for being bi-racial, and had issues with identity).
Back on topic…yes, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter is a baseball history book and the definite book on Derek Jeter (as much as someone could research about such a private man and who has friends that keep their mouths shut), but O’Connor is also into gossip. He tries to dig up gossip that belongs in the Daily News, such as an unnamed woman that said she was hiding in the bushes and watched Derek go into a hotel with two women (Girl A left first from his car…then Girl B left a few minutes later…and then Derek went up afterwards, so no one would take a picture with them together).
O’Connor and other Jeter supporters seem a bit hypocritical about Jeter liking conservative woman and being extremely picky. But then they say Derek has been with hundreds (or thousands) of women. Are they all his type? Come on, guys. He’s a Mac Daddy but he treats them with respect so they don’t talk. So let’s not pretend he’s some sort of super-selective connoisseur that only digs conservative and shy chicks.
Anyway, it’s a very entertaining book. However, since I’ve read almost every book about Joe Torre’s dynasty and I read the Daily News, 80% of the book was old news to me. I’m still sure there are thousands of readers that had no idea Derek cried when he was away from his parents in the minors, but I already read about that in Buster Olney’s ultimate Yankees book (The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness) and there was a lot of repeated info from The Yankees Years. But O’Connor puts it all together and adds the Jeter details to make a super biography, although one can easily be misled into believing Jeter was the only force behind the championships and not Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams et al.
In fact, O’Connor seemed to go out of his way to get quotes from people and described scenes that painted Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams as having inferior work ethic and leadership skills when compared to Jeter. Jason Giambi, as in Joe Torre’s book, was ripped to shreds. Perceptions of Kenny Lofton and Gary Sheffield echo Torre’s book, but O’Connor had quotes to suggest that Torre did play favorites and Sheff may have been right. Chad Curtis gets butchered. I hope Chuck Knoblauch doesn’t read this book (with the suicide of Hideki Irabu, I really wish authors and reporters would lay off the negativity of judging players we don’t even know, and stop labeling people based on their Yankees run).
- Jason Giambi was frustrated that he couldn’t be a team leader.
- In 2003, Derek Jeter just gave a cold stare with no comment to Blue Jays catcher Ken Huckaby who had separated his shoulder. The guy apologized to him two days later in the clubhouse, and Derek did not forgive him.
- People that made Derek Jeter angry: Alex Rodriguez, Brian Cashman, Chad Curtis, and Ken Huckaby.
- Jeter called out Bernie Williams for being late, was all over Jorge Posada for missing an appointment with Cashman, and got in Jay Witasick’s face for a stupid comment after Game 6 of the 2001 World Series.
- Brian Cashman used to be the guy who told you you’ve had too much to drink and had security escort you out of Yankee Stadium.
- Jeter is more accepting to criticism than you’d think: when confronted by Cashman one-on-one about his poor defense as per sabermetrics, Jeter was shocked no one had told him before and worked on improving that part of his game. Cashman was under the impression Joe Torre told him before, as ordered, but Derek said, “Nope”.
- Negotiations during the contract extension were just as horrible behind closed doors as they were in the media. This book reveals all (too many witnesses in the room to discount).
- Ron Washington’s scouting report on Derek Jeter when Derek was a young kid: “He ain’t no shortstop.”
- David Cone has a really funny story about talking to this hot blonde woman in a bar for an hour- really cuddling next to her- before realizing “she” had an Adam’s Apple. Cone questioned his sexuality by the end of the night.
- Joe Girardi really had issues managing in 2008, and was told by his bosses to “lighten up”.
- Jeter told Nick Swisher to cut his crazy mohawk.
- And much, much more! The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter
- Joe Torre’s book
- Carl Pavano vs Joe Torre
- Cashman attacks Bernie Williams
- Don’t Believe the Derek Jeter and Hal Steinbrenner Rumors
- Joe Torre Larry King Interview
- David Wells vs Joe Torre
- Things I learned from Joe Torre’s book
- Did Joe Torre violate confidentiality in his book?
- Review: The Yankee Years by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
- Derek Jeter Umpire Call, Girardi
- Brian Cashman Calls Joe Torre’s Book Garbage
- YESNetwork Downplays Yankees vs Joe Torre’s Dodgers
- Derek Jeter’s Quest for 3,000 Ends With His Greatest Game Ever
- Japan beats USA in WBC, Derek Jeter error
- Life insurance quotes
- Torre Forced to Apologize for not Defending A-Rod (HA!)
- Derek Jeter break Lou Gehrig’s record on 9/11
- Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera Stay With Yanks
- Joe Torre’s new book: "The Yankee Years"
- Derek Jeter Cheater Controversy: Lying About Getting HBP