We know him as a man who wore a pinstriped suit to work for 20 years but now, we cannot even be certain Derek Jeter will continue to wear that attire once he is in place as part of the Bruce Sherman-led ownership group that has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the Marlins for $1.2 billion.
Indeed, conjuring visions of Jeter running the baseball and business operations from behind a desk in South Florida leaves us with essentially a blank slate in the aftermath of two decades in the land of Page Six and the epicenter of baseball, through which No. 2 revealed little of himself beyond name, rank and serial number.
We can, however, surmise Jeter will be as prepared, disciplined and competitive in this endeavor as he was in producing near-metronomic excellence on the field for the Yankees. This is not an individual who can be expected to punch in at 9 a.m., punch out at 5 p.m. and let the chips fall where they may, banking on his magic name to be a substitute for all of the grunt work necessary to build and maintain a successful franchise.
There aren’t many to have crossed the divide from the field to the owners’ suite, and there are even fewer to have made the jump with notable success. Indeed, it could be that only Mario Lemieux, who has won two Stanley Cups as Penguins owner after having won two on the ice, qualifies in that regard.
Though Jeter lends marquee power and credibility to the ownership group that includes Michael Jordan — who coincidentally serves as a cautionary tale to those who presume greatness on the field equates to success in the front office — it is not as if the pending Hall of Fame shortstop is regarded in Miami as one of them, the way Lemieux was in Pittsburgh.
You know who would be? Alex Rodriguez, that’s who, but that is a whole different tale.
Jeter spent his entire career working for an organization that annually had one of the league’s top two or three payrolls and flexed its financial muscle to camouflage roster blemishes like an adolescent addicted to Clearasil. He won’t be living large like that while straddling his roles on the player and business side for one of the sport’s traditional sisters of the poor.
But Jeter lived through the downside of playing for a club whose feeder system had atrophied and had run dry. Surely he recognizes baseball is a ground-up business, more now than ever since the collapse four decades ago of the reserve system.
What does that mean for the future of the larger-than-life Giancarlo Stanton, who has three years at $77 million on his contract prior to an opt-out after 2020 and whose trade simultaneously would strike at the team’s immediate credibility while bringing back a mother lode of prospects?
We can be confident in suggesting Jeter’s circle of influence is wider than his circle of influencers. We don’t know to whom he will turn for advice or whom he will enlist to join him, though it might not be a stretch to suggest Jorge Posada and Gerald Williams could wind up in South Florida. We also can be confident in suggesting there will be no shortage of capable and successful people yearning to join Jeter in this endeavor.
There is no reason Jeter’s relationship with the Yankees and New York — arm’s length since his retirement following the 2014 season — should change. But what if Jeter, for instance, wants to hire and give a job of front office prominence to Gary Denbo, the current Yankees vice president of player development, with whom the shortstop was close throughout his pro career?
Question: Will this Yankees icon fire another one, manager Don Mattingly, as one of his first acts in office? Better question: Will he forbid facial hair and mandate short hair for Marlins players? The world wants to know.
When the sale is approved, Jeter will become the first African-American to run baseball and business operations for a major league team. This is a man of detail and of success who represents the embodiment of the American dream and who, so far as the public is aware, never has failed. The pinstriped clothes never made the man as much as the man made the pinstriped clothes.
Jeter has lived the dream and now he accomplishes what has long been a dream of his own — to become part of a major league baseball ownership group. But does that mean he will succeed?
Not necessarily, but we know that he will be prepared and pay attention to detail. He always has.
Derek Jeter will be prepared but will he succeed as an owner? – New York Post