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Keidel: No. 2 Looking Out For No. 1

Derek Jeter Plays For Pay. Lots Of It.
Derek Jeter (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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By Jason Keidel
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In case you weren’t sure if it’s good to be Derek Jeter, please turn your attention to Exhibit C.

As in Contract.

The Yankees just offered Jeter $12 million for playing 17 games last season, batting .190 and being 39 and playing the lone position that doesn’t allow for middle age.

Well, offered is probably the inverted verb, the ultimate antonym.

Bilked. Surrendered. Capitulated.

Jeter tossed the brass over his shoulder and burped them like babies until $2 million gurgled onto the towel.

But hey, he had a home run! In his first at-bat, no less!

He had seven RBI.

He scored eight runs.

His slugging percentage boomed up to .254.

Those are stats barely befitting a pitcher. Yet it got No. 2 some No.1 pay. He already had an option for over $9 million. Evidently, that’s not good enough. Odd when you consider he’s considered the ultimate team player.

So this must dispel certain notions from even the most jaded Jeter worshipers.

Despite what the mythmakers and propagandists, and you, the Jeter Zombie assert, Derek does not, never has, and never will…

a) play baseball for you, the fan

b) play baseball for fee

c) play for the love of the game

Derek Jeter plays for pay. Lots of it. His salary alone has been over a quarter-billion bucks. Correct, BILLION.

Jeter knows about Hal’s newfound frugality, his borderline salary cap OCD, and his almost deranged desire to duck under the $189 financial firewall.

Yet that didn’t stop Dearest Derek from squeezing a few million more from the employer that made his family wealthy for the next eon. Indeed, if looked through any impartial lens, it is fair to say Jeter is the most overpaid player in baseball, in basketball, in all ball in all sports on our planet.

And he also knew the Yankees could not refuse. Imagine the contorted headlines, the bad, bold ink lathered across the back pages, the caustic caps that would make the Bronx Bombers blush.

Yanks Turn Down Derek Jeter!
Yanks Slash Jeter’s Pay and Pride!
Jeter Humiliated in Final Year and Farewell Tour!
Jeter Rides Into Scalding Sunset!
Sad September Song for Mr. November!
Jeter Files for Bankruptcy!

It’s not enough they paid him $51 million over his last contract when no one was offering half that amount. (Remember, the shortstop had his worst year before signing his final deal with the Yanks.)

It’s not enough that the contract before that was nearly $190 million. It’s not enough he has an apartment in every Trump Tower. It’s not enough that his Florida mansion is so galactic they call the town “St. Jetersburg.” Perhaps in his next, final legacy contract he will ask for naming rights to Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

He doesn’t need the quid, doesn’t need to save face. He’d simply be honoring the contract he signed. The idea that he earned a raise is laughable. And if it were anyone but Derek Jeter, and if the world weren’t so afraid to step on his aura, this story would be in bold ink.

We’re making Robinson Cano look like Nucky Thompson for his contract demands, but St. Derek is just getting what’s coming to him. Right.

None of this makes him a bad person. In fact, Jeter’s a fine businessman. He saw weakness and seized on it. He’s a capitalist, not a humanitarian. Unless he turns around and says he milked the millions for his Turn Two Foundation, that was nothing more than a money-grab. And his hands were as sure in this transaction as they were during any double play he converted on the diamond.

Jeter not only has his resume to lean on, but also has A-Rod on his right side, standing in wretched relief. Jeter could rob Bank of America and we’d never notice while we toss Molotov Coctails at A-Rod’s limousine. Lost in the A-Rod drama is the reality that Jeter lives in the same stratus, has the same status, just not the same ethos.

As you might imagine, my inbox boils with hate mail. It seems I’m the only one with the stones or stupidity to question Derek Jeter. And by that I mean I dare say he’s human, which douses the most ardent and amorous dreams you have while tying your most vulgar invectives.

My two Twitter followers will leap off the bandwagon as though it were on fire. “Jason Uzed to B a guud wryter!” you say. “But now he just a h8ter. Deuces, a$$h@le. Layta!”

I can see you know, pounding your keyboard, wrapped in your blue #2 jersey that says “Jeter” on the back, knowing darn well the Yanks don’t put names on their jerseys.

That’s because it is all and always about the team in the Bronx. At least it used to be. Must be nice to get paid the most when you do the least.

Just ask Derek Jeter.

Twitter: @JasonKeidel