Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez Discuss Feud in ‘The Captain’

ESPN’s docuseriesThe Captain, tells the story of Derek Jeter, one of the New York Yankees’ most storied athletes. The series dives into Jeter’s life, both on and off the field, and of course, covers the famed Yankees feud with his once-friend turned teammate, Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Jeter both tell their side of the story in the docuseries. So, what exactly happened? 

What caused the rift between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez? 

Jeter and Rodriguez were best friends after meeting at a college baseball game the year Rodriguez entered the MLB draft. They maintained that friendship for years, despite playing for teams on opposite sides of the country. Then, seemingly suddenly, they weren’t speaking. There doesn’t appear to be one single moment that led to a years-long feud between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Still, there was one comment that seemed to get the ball rolling.

Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter pose for a photo before the 71st MLB All-Star Game at Turner Field on Tuesday, July 11, 2000
Nomar Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter | Rich Pilling/MLB via Getty Images

Jeter reportedly felt Rodriguez had wronged him during an interview with Esquire in 2001. According to E! News, Rodriguez commented about Jeter’s leadership abilities. According to the publication, he told interviewer Scott Raab, “He doesn’t have to, he can just go and play and have fun, and hit second. I mean, you know, hitting second is totally different than hitting third or fourth in a lineup…You never say, ‘Don’t let Derek beat you.’ That’s never your concern.”

Rodriguez made the comment several years before joining the Yankees. He insisted that comment was innocuous, although his former friend didn’t see it that way. According to the documentary, he did apologize. Still, he destroyed any semblance of a friendship when he made additional comments suggesting that he was an overall better player than Jeter. 

The teammates’ years together on the Yankees did little to squash the tension 

Rodriguez’s commentary occurred a few years before he joined the New York Yankees. At first, fans assumed time had tempered the feud, but being together in such close quarters only worsened things. The 2011 book, The Captain, revealed that the tension between the two was so intense that Jeter was asked to try to fake a friendship to calm everything down. 

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 26, 2011
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez | Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The two muddled through the rest of their time together, but occasionally tempers did flair. When Jeter opted to retire in 2012, ending his illustrious career, from start to finish, with the Yankees, he was asked about Rodriguez. He got snippy. Later, the duo would appear together from time to time for interviews. It never seemed easy or comfortable. In fact, the tension was palpable as recently as 2017. 

Jeter isn’t one to mince words. The Hall of Famer concedes that statistically, Rodriguez was a better player than him. His numbers were better, he admits. Still, he doesn’t understand why Rodriguez felt the need to make the comments he did. Jeter said he would have never made comments like that about a fellow player, especially one he considered a friend.

Rodriguez insists he knows why he did what he did. The sportscaster suggested he might have felt a little insecure. Time has healed that a bit. Still, Rodriguez claims the public always saw Jeter as the hero and him as a villain. During The Captain, Rodriguez said, “I was goofy as hell. He was perfect as hell. I’m an easy guy to cheer against. He’s an easy guy to cheer for. I mean yeah, that’s the way it rolls.”

Where do the former teammates and former friends stand today? 

Jeter and Rodriguez appear to have moved passed their disagreement. They seem to be neither friends nor foes. That might have something to do with the fact that life has taken them in entirely different directions. Jeter, upon his retirement, settled down and married. He and his wife, Hannah Jeter, have three daughters. Much of Jeter’s current life revolves around his family and business ventures that have taken him a bit out of the spotlight.  

Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter speaks to the media before the start of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies
Derek Jeter | Eric Espada/Getty Images

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Rodriguez has opted to stay directly in the spotlight since his retirement in 2016. A career with ESPN, a high-profile relationship, and an even higher-profile breakup have ensured he’s plenty busy, too.