Derek Jeter defends his early work as the Marlins’ CEO in an at times contentious interview with Bryant Gumbel for “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” premiering 10 p.m. Tuesday on HBO.
Jeter pushes back at the notion the Marlins are “tanking” in the short term to position themselves for the future, asserting, “We’re trying to win ballgames every day . . . You never tell your team that they’re expected to lose. Never.”
He accuses Gumbel of being “mentally weak” for thinking in negative terms, to which Gumbel replies he merely is being “realistic” given Miami’s roster sell-off, including a trade of Giancarlo Stanton to Jeter’s old team, the Yankees.
“I expect this team to compete, to compete,” Jeter says. “You’d never tell your players that you are expected to lose. You don’t do that. You should take that as a slap in the face as a player.”
Gumbel tells Jeter that “as an executive, it looks like you’re delusional” to expect the team to contend, to which Jeter responds, “Well, call me delusional.”
Throughout the interview Jeter attempts to put a positive spin on his team and on Marlins fans’ reactions to the job he is doing, saying, “Things are going well.”
When Gumbel responds that he has read things aren’t going great, Jeter says, “How so?”
Jeter says he has moved on from his playing career, which ended in 2014, saying he has not missed playing for “one second” and has not swung a bat since his last major league game.
“I know how hard it is to hit,” he says. “I’ve thrown my last ball. I’ve swung my last bat.”
He may be an embattled rookie CEO, but he insists he is in it for the long haul.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing,” he says. “Like I said, there’s still a lot to learn, all right? I’m not coming in here claiming to be some so-called expert. There’s a lot to learn. And I enjoy learning. There’s no exit strategy for me here.”