Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
Word is Derek Jeter isn't too thrilled about Ian O'Connor's new book about him, at least not about some leaked material regarding his relationship with a certain slugging third baseman.
But after reading all 378 pages of "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter,'' I would say this: Only a guy as secretive and image-conscious as No. 2 in pinstripes could possibly be upset.
If O'Connor wants to write a book that says this many nice things about me, by all means, please do.
It's not that the author didn't attempt to dig up some juicy new material on El Capitan. O'Connor is a skilled writer and reporter, and he interviewed 200-plus people, including Jeter in a series of chats by his locker. (Joe Torre and Alex Rodriguez declined to talk.)
But Jeter being Jeter, there only is so much even a dogged journalist can add to the discussion. Unless Jeter decides to tell all -- or at least tell a lot, as Torre did to entertaining effect in "The Yankee Years" -- the Shortstop for Life is destined to remain an opaque icon, just the way he likes it.
None of which is to say O'Connor's book isn't a valuable addition to the thin Jeter canon. (It officially won't be out until next month, but it is available now on Amazon.com.)
Jeter-ologists will gain new insights on a variety of topics, from the life and influence of Jeter's maternal grandfather to the intrigue of the 1992 draft to the "messy'' contract talks of last offseason, even to sidebars such as Jeffrey Maier's path to Yankee Stadium one autumn day in 1996.
And, of course, there's the A-Rod thing.
It's all here, a relationship that went from warm to frigid to thawed, one that at times threatened to drag the entire franchise down with it.
Much of the ground is familiar, but the passage of time has allowed O'Connor to add depth to stories, notably the infamous pop-up that dropped between the two in 2006.
General manager Brian Cashman tells Jeter "this has to stop'' after observing Jeter shoot A-Rod a look that seemed to say, "That's your mess, you clean it up.''
Jeter responds by saying, "Show me the video.''
The Jeter vs. Rodriguez dynamic consumes a hefty chunk of the book, and leads to most of the negative material Jeter would have liked to avoid. Turns out he could be petty and cold when it came to his old pal.
Mostly the book seeks to answer a question the author poses in the introduction: "How did No. 2 get to be No. 1?''
The answer is by generally being an all-around great guy.
He is kind to his parents, umpires, (most) teammates, fans and, always, children.
Opponents respect him. Women adore him. Corporations hire him. Reporters appreciate him, even as he follows Don Mattingly's advice to "bore them to death.''
On several occasions, O'Connor refers to him as Derek Sanderson Jeter, his full name, for an extra dose of reverence.
But he is human, even when he is not stewing over A-Rod or enjoying perks such as the companionship of female celebrities. (Friends marvel when he quickly achieves two childhood goals: playing shortstop for the Yankees and dating Mariah Carey.)
And he has a mean streak. One team official is quoted as saying he could not approach Jeter about his relationship with A-Rod for fear of being cut off:
(Good luck to O'Connor the next time he and Jeter chat.)
A close friend, R.D. Long, describes Jeter as "the iciest non-icy person I've ever met.''
It is a curious description, and it is not entirely clear what it means. But somehow, it fits.