By Ernie Palladino
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On the day in 1962 that legendary Yankees general manager George Weiss took over the expansion Mets’ front office, a reporter asked his wife what she thought of her 67-year-old husband going back to work.
“I married him for better or for worse,” Mrs. Weiss said. “Not for lunch!”
With that in mind, it came as no surprise when Fox Business News identified Derek Jeter as the marquee name in a group interested in buying the Miami Marlins. After all, a 42-year-old guy has to do something more than hang around his Tampa mansion with his supermodel wife all day.
The ship-in-a-bottle routine gets old pretty quickly, and how many hours should one so young spend on the golf course if he’s not pursuing a PGA card?
Eventually, a guy needs to get another job, if only to give the lady of the house a break from seeing the same old face, day after day.
So, other than getting something steady at the local deli, owning a baseball team is probably as good a fit as any for the future Hall of Fame shortstop. His even-keeled temperament in the locker room and on the field gave one the idea he could weather any storm in any command position.
It all makes sense on a number of levels. Jeter has the dough, as his take from a 20-year career in the Bronx netted him in the vicinity of $265 million alone. That’s not counting the endorsement money he raked in through relationships with Gatorade, Nike, Rawlings, Movado, and a slew of other companies. He also owns a book publishing label and his own website.
If he’s looking to grow that nest egg to better support SI Swimsuit wife Hannah Davis and their soon-to-debut daughter, a sports franchise will certainly get it done. Like prime real estate, these things don’t sell at losses. Even the Marlins, a team that draws more flies than fans. Though ranked 29th on Forbes’ most recent valuations of MLB clubs at $675 million, keep in mind that owner Jeffrey Loria originally bought the club in 2002 for $158 million. That alone represents a 500 percent profit. But keep in mind, too, that Loria’s selling price is estimated at close to $1.6 billion.
Even as a minority owner, Jeter would be in for a windfall.
Jeter would obviously have partners, but he would automatically become the face of the franchise. That’s a heck of a lot better look than some huge corporation or his main competition, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. MLB has to ask itself what it would prefer: a slick-fielding, hard-hitting Yankee hero or a member of a two-president family who couldn’t untangle his own legs and whiffed at the softballs the moderators pitched him in the Republican primaries?
The former Bombers captain could be a huge success for a team that has basically operated in the dark the past 15 years under Loria. Having played his first 15 years under baseball’s greatest owner, George Steinbrenner, Jeter came to learn the best and worst traits of him. While Jeter shared his owner’s hunger for success, he went about it in a manner diametrically opposite to the old man’s impulsiveness.
A steady hand at the helm is what the Marlins could use after suffering through an owner who was just as irascible as Steinbrenner, but without the trophies. He did get one in 2003, after which he dismantled the team. He also got rid of Joe Girardi shortly after Girardi was named Manager of the Year in 2006.
Assuming Jeter’s backers would allow him to call all the baseball shots, it’s hard to believe he’d grow into one of baseball’s most disliked owners such as Loria. He’s had enough success to know what works on the field and what doesn’t.
Who knows? Perhaps with him in charge, he’ll make changes that can coax the Marlins’ fragile fan base out to that nice new stadium.
Aside from that, owning a baseball team would give him something to do. Keep him out of Hannah’s well-coiffed hair.
At least at lunchtime.
Please follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino