Derek Jeter and the Yankees re-consummated their relationship with a somewhat awkward press conference today at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Despite calmly admitting that he was “angry” about the public nature of the process (as only Jeter could), the Yankees shortstop reiterated his dedication to the organization and described all involved parties as “one big happy family”.
Today’s reunion was strange to say the least, particularly because such an inevitable outcome seemed to create so many improbable storylines. For whatever reason, many in the media and the Yankees’ fan base seized upon the slow pace of the negotiations to denigrate, ridicule and vilify the team’s Hall of Fame shortstop, thanks in no small part to the curiously public comments of Brian Cashman and ownership. As a result, the press conference welcoming Jeter back almost had the feeling of a reverse parable, with the Yankees’ organization playing the role of the prodigal son. After all, Jeter never left and never intended to, but the Yankees did stray from what should be the organization’s policy of holding its legacy in only the highest of regard.
It was impossible to look at Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner sitting at the dais and not think they probably felt a little bit guilty. Some of the reporters sitting in the audience probably felt the same way, not to mention a vocal segment of the fan base that seemed quick to turn on Jeter. All’s well that ends well, however, so, break out the robes, rings and sandals, and slaughter the fattened calf. The prodigal among us have returned to the fold, rejoining the Captain, who never left.