Now we know why Derek Jeter didn’t want to accompany his Marlins to Yankee Stadium on Monday night.
Another former Yankees legend, Don Mattingly, didn’t have a choice.
Mattingly had to sit in the visiting dugout and manage the undermanned and possibly underfunded Marlins in a 12-1 loss to the Yankees.
Jeter, the rookie owner of the beleaguered Miami franchise, chose not to watch the first of this two-game series in person. Nor is he expected on Tuesday night.
“It would be an awkward situation for me to actually go to Yankee Stadium,” Jeter said on Saturday.
We’re not sure why, other than watching the current Marlins must be painful for a man who stood for nothing but winning during his playing career.
“It’s hard for me to put myself in Derek’s shoes,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, a former Jeter teammate. “To each their own. It’s his right if he wanted to be here or didn’t . . . Obviously, I understand he’s Derek Jeter and what he’s meant to this organization, but that’s his call.”
It would have shown the proper respect for both his current and former organizations if Jeter had come to the Stadium, blandly answered a few questions from the media and taken his place in whatever suite the Yankees reserve for visiting team officials.
What would have been so awkward about that? Jeter’s face would have been shown on the scoreboard and the crowd of 32,535 would have given him a much-deserved round of applause. Maybe even a “Derek Jeter” chant.
Mattingly, a beloved Yankee from an earlier era, was added to the first-inning “Roll Call” by the Bleacher Creatures, who chanted “Donnie Baseball” as Mattingly tipped his cap. Nice.
Jeter’s No. 2 and Mattingly’s No. 23 are both retired in Monument Park. When Mattingly retired, he went into coaching and then managing. Jeter decided to go into the owner’s box, and his tenure with the Marlins can’t be judged until his makeover of the roster is complete.
“We know we’re here to win and that’s really the goal,” Mattingly said. “It’s not about putting a competitive club out there. It’s about eventually getting to the point where you’re competitive to the point where you have a chance to win a championship. So that’s where I think we’re both on the exact same page.”
One of Jeter’s early moves was sending Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. The struggling slugger continued his early-season woes and continued to hear the boos. Stanton, facing his old team for the first time, was the only starter not to have a hit as the Yankees took an 11-0 lead by scoring in each of the first five innings.
Gary Sanchez, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, got a gift single in the third when his pop-up to short center fell among three Marlins, any of whom could have easily caught the ball.
Jeter would have easily caught that ball, no over-the-shoulder heroics needed.
Maybe that’s why Jeter didn’t want to be here, in the borough of his greatest glory. They always say it was hard for Ted Williams to be a manager because his hitters couldn’t do what he did, which was be great.
This was Jeter in 2009, just before the Yankees won his fifth and final World Series title, when he was asked if he watched postseason games if the Yankees weren’t involved:
“I can’t sit and watch,” he said. “It gives me a sick feeling.”
Probably better than he felt Monday. If he was watching.