TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Derek Jeter's website faces stiff competition on the crowded sports media landscape

Yankees captain Derek Jeter announced in February that

Yankees captain Derek Jeter announced in February that 2014 would be his final season in baseball. Newsday traveled to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Fenway Park in Boston, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium to tell the story of what Jeter meant to Major League Baseball, its players and fans during his 20 seasons. (Credit: Newsday)

On Day One, we learned Derek Jeter is afraid of cats, enjoys Patsy's pizza and still doesn't care to answer questions about Alex Rodriguez.

On Day Two, we learned Russell Wilson was a bit of a bully as an adolescent and as a grown-up wants to help fight the scourge of domestic violence.

Not that there's anything wrong with all that.

These are past and present jocks we care about, sharing their thoughts "unfiltered" by reporters, as they have every right to do and as they have been capable of doing since the World Wide Web went public in 1991 -- when Jeter was at Kalamazoo Central High and Wilson was 2.

The news, of course, was where they chose to do it, on a site called "The Players' Tribune," launched by a group fronted by Jeter a mere three days after his final game as a Yankee.

The initial reaction from the sports journalism world was a tad defensive, given that in his introductory letter, Jeter cited the need for a place where athletes can express themselves without the twisting of their words by sportswriters.

Jeter also wrote "fans deserve more than 'no comments' or 'I don't knows,' '' this after a two-decade career in which he was unfailingly accessible yet unfailingly guarded.

"Those simple answers have always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted," he wrote, later adding, "I'm not a robot. Neither are the other athletes who at times might seem unapproachable. We all have emotions. We just need to be sure our thoughts will come across the way we intend.''

All of this registered in the danger zone on the Chutzpah Meter, especially so soon after Jeter was showered with admiration bordering on adulation for the way he faced the final curtain as a pro.

When, exactly, did we twist your words, Mr. Shortstop for Life, sir?

But that misses the point. It's not personal, Jeet. It's strictly business.

See, Jeter's one of us now, and even old No. 2 is going to have to face the realities of the impossibly overcrowded modern sports media landscape, where getting noticed is more than half the battle.

Jeter has a nice head start, what with the fact that he is Jeter, and that the first non-Jeter athlete / editor he brought aboard was the similarly respected, championship-tested young quarterback of the Seahawks.

The challenge will be keeping the public interested if Jeter sticks to his longtime aversion to negativity and if the content generated by athletes veers toward the safe and sanitized.

There is a reason athletes' polished websites tend to be of limited interest while the knee-jerk (and overly honest) things they post on Twitter often cause them trouble -- and provide fans entertainment and amusement.

None of this is to suggest that Jeter and the site's editorial team -- including actual sports journalists to help everyone along -- will not produce quality content. (A spokesman said no one from the site is available for interviews yet to discuss the details further.)

Even Jeter's mostly innocuous Twitter Q&A Wednesday was good, clean fun. But now that we know his favorite ice cream flavor, it will take more to attract readers the next time around. For example: What about A-Rod, Derek?

If Jeter thought playing at Fenway Park was challenging, wait until he sees what it's like playing on ESPN's field, where the green monster is piles of money, not a dented leftfield wall.

New York Sports