February 05, 2009
Derek Jeter plays soccer.
Well, FIFA '09 soccer at least. The Captain was in Orlando on Tuesday night, participating in the Gillette-EA Sports Champions of Gaming Finals at the UCF Arena and doing his usual bevy of interviews. I caught up with Jeter right before he went up to face the FIFA World Champion and we discussed a wide range of topics including, the Yankee Stadium sign he didn't steal, his support of A-Rod and Bud Selig's astronomical salary.
Big League Stew: So let me get this straight: You haven't played FIFA before, yet now you have to play the world champion?
Derek Jeter: Yeah, I'm good to go now man, I'm ready.
BLS: How is that fair?
DJ: It's not fair, right?
BLS: It doesn't seem fair to me.
DJ: I've got nothing to lose, [the champion] has everything to lose.
DJ: Yeah, like Ms. Pacman and Frogger.
BLS: What about RBI Baseball?
DJ: Yeah, a long, long time ago. Video games nowadays have gone to a whole 'nother level.
BLS: Do you guys still play video games in the clubhouse?
DJ: Yeah, the players' kids come into the clubhouse after the games, so they take over the TVs and start playing video games.
BLS: My brother, when he plays the baseball games on the Xbox, loads up his teams with infielders. He has you and A-Rod playing all over the place. If the Yankees came to you in a couple of years and said, "Derek, we'd like you to move to second base or the outfield," would you ever consider something like that?
DJ: I'm considering this year right now.
BLS: That's it?
DJ: Yeah, I can't answer questions down the road.
BLS: The news finally came out last week that you took a sign from Yankee Stadium. Where did you put the sign?
DJ: First of all, let's get one thing straight, I didn't steal it. I saw a man on TV say I stole the sign. I didn't steal it. I was able to take it.
BLS: But you're Derek Jeter you can take what you want.
DJ: Yeah, but I didn't steal it. They got me being a criminal on TV.
BLS: So where is the sign now?
DJ: It's in my house. I put it in my house.
We are interrupted briefly so that a TV personality can ask Jeter about manscaping.
BLS: Do you ever get tired of being you?
DJ: Tired of being me? (Smiles) I wouldn't know what it's like to be anybody else, man. I guess I'd have to say no, right?
BLS: You have to deal with crazy stuff like that all the time though, do you ever look at some of these people and think, "Is this for real?"
DJ: Well, you know, I've grown up in New York so I don't know anything different. I've been there since I was 20 years old so I really wouldn't know anything else.
BLS: The Yankees have obviously had a busy off-season. Did you ever sit at home and go, "Damn, we're spending a lot of money ... this is pretty sweet?"
DJ: Nah, you know why? 'Cause actually our payroll is less this year than it was last year. So everybody is making such a big deal out of how much money we've spent, but it's gone down. We got rid of a lot of guys who were making a whole lot of money. But, one thing with our ownership is they're always going to put forth the effort to give us the players, and you appreciate that.
BLS: Joe's book — I'm sure you've been asked about it a bunch ...
DJ: No, what, what? (Smiles)BLS: Were you surprised he wrote the book?
DJ: No, everybody knew he was writing a book, cause the author [Tom Verducci] was in the clubhouse ... It wasn't a surprise.
BLS: Some of the stuff that came out in the book, of course, was about A-Rod's negative image in the clubhouse. Do you think you're going to have to address everyone at some point leading up to spring training, and say, "I'm the captain, I support ...
DJ: I've addressed it all the time, man. Every day.
BLS: Do you think you're going to have to make some sort of statement though, saying, "I support A-Rod?"
DJ: I've already done it.
BLS: So, you're saying it right now, you support A-Rod?
DJ: Yeah, I've already said it. Time and time again.
We are interrupted again so that Jeter can film a segment with Guillermo the security guard from "Jimmy Kimmel Live."
BLS: I just got back from Super Bowl Week where all kinds of people ask all kinds of bizarre questions. If you could ask anybody one question what would it be?
DJ: You know what, man? I get asked enough questions, I try not to ask too many questions.
BLS: Exactly, you always get asked questions, so if you had one question to ask anybody what would it be?
DJ: Jackie Robinson. I'd ask him how he was able to maintain his composure.
BLS: The WBC is coming up soon, why aren't more guys excited about it in your mind?
DJ: I think people are real excited about it.
BLS: A lot of guys haven't agreed to play though ...
DJ: Well, you know, every case is different. I wouldn't say people aren't excited about it. I know guys, for health reasons, aren't able to participate, they'd like to participate, but teams don't want 'em to take a chance, they don't want to take a chance. I wouldn't say people aren't excited about it. I just think it's different circumstances for every player.
BLS: Why do you enjoy the WBC so much?
DJ: Each time you can represent your country, you know, I didn't have an opportunity to do that growing up, never played in the Olympics, or Junior Olympics, or anything like that, so getting that opportunity, it was a no-brainer for me.
BLS: There are probably more rumors out there about you than anybody; ever thought about starting the Derek Jeter Blog?
BLS: But if you started something like that, you could clear up a whole bunch of the rumors.
DJ: They'd just make up new ones. I don't think [a blog] would stop it.
BLS: The Super Bowl has media day; if MLB ever had the equivalent, would it be any different than what you deal with everyday in New York City?
DJ: We have an equivalent, it's called our clubhouse. (Laughs) We have media day every single day.
BLS: Ten years from now, where are you and what are you doing?
DJ: I don't know, man. I really don't know. I try not to look that far ahead. You gotta enjoy the moment, right now I'm focused on this year here. Nine years from now I'll be able to tell you where I'll be 10 years from now.
BLS: You've never thought about going back to school, becoming a professor or something like that?
DJ: Right now, I would love to be an owner. I would like to own a team, but I don't know if that will happen in ten years. You've got to take it one year at a time.
BLS: We'll wrap it up on this one: You started off your career making $120,000 dollars, now you're making tens of millions, do you ever find yourself looking back and going, "Woah?"
DJ: Yeah, I mean every day. We get paid an unbelievable amount of money to go out there and do what we love to do. You understand it's entertainment, it's a big business, it's been a real successful business, but yeah, it's mind-boggling.
BLS: You're only making about three more million than Selig though, you think that's fair?
DJ: (Pauses) I didn't even know that, man.
BLS: Yeah, it came out the other day that he's making over 18 million, do you believe that?
DJ: Well, he's got a lot of decisions to make (Smiles).