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NY Post
New York Post
21 Oct 2023

NextImg:Derek Jeter opens up about state of the Yankees, fatherhood: ‘The best feeling’

Yankees legend Derek Jeter, an analyst for Fox’s MLB postseason coverage, takes a swing at some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby:

Q: Your first son, Kaius (following daughters Bella Raine, Story Grey and River Rose), will be 6 months old next month. How is fatherhood?

A: Amazing. It’s the best feeling, best experience I’ve ever had. It’s something that I’m glad I waited until I was retired. It took me a while to meet the right person [wife Hannah]. But it’s the most gratifying experience I’ve ever had. So proud of how every day they’ve grown and go through new experiences and learning. You hear people say it, before you have kids of your own, they say, “Wait till you have kids.” I’m enjoying it.

Q: Would you encourage Kaius Jeter to be a shortstop?

A: I would never push that on him or anything on my daughters. I want them to find what their passions are, whatever that is. I want them to find something that they’re passionate about and work hard at it. I’ll be there to support ’em. I was never pushed into playing baseball, and I wouldn’t do that to him. I want him to find what it is he loves to do.

Derek Jeter and his family are pictured at a Yankees game in 2022, when he was honored by the organization.
Getty Images
Derek Jeter and his daughter, Bella, are pictured at a Yankees game in 2022.
Getty Images

Q: What if he one day said to you, “I’m a Red Sox fan” or “I’m a Mets fan”? How would you deal with that?

A: It’ll never happen. It just wouldn’t happen. There’s a lot of things in life that are certainties and that’s about as certain as you can get.

Q: Why wouldn’t it happen? He’s entitled to his own opinion, right?

A: On some things. You’re entitled to have your own opinion on some things (laugh).

Q: Since 1998, is there a team from the National League that could have beaten your ’98 Yankees?

A: No … simple answer, I don’t even have to elaborate (laugh).

Q: Where do the ’98 Yankees rank in history?

A: You cannot compare eras, you just really can’t. You can’t compare players from different eras and teams. I’m biased, so I would say yes, we’re No. 1, but you can’t compare — ’98 Yankees never played the ’27 Yankees, so it’s impossible to tell, but I’d put us up there against anyone.

Derek Jeter, pictured in 1998, and the Yankees won the World Series that season.
MLB via Getty Images

Q: If George Steinbrenner were alive, how would he recruit Shohei Ohtani?

A: (Laugh) He’d probably show up at his house. … I don’t know, that’s a good question. It would depend on how bad he wanted him. If he wanted him bad, he would do anything it took in order to get him in pinstripes.

Q: As a longtime Yankees icon, how would you feel if Ohtani ended up with the Mets?

A: The thing with Ohtani, he’s such a great player; I think the thing that’s been missing is him playing on baseball’s biggest stage. He did it in the World Baseball Classic, which I think took his notoriety to another level. But I think he’s missing playing in the postseason, so wherever he goes, I just hope he gets that opportunity.

Q: How would you feel if he ended up with the Mets?

A: You know I don’t speak on hypotheticals.

Q: How would Ohtani handle the big stage of New York?

A: I don’t know. I assume he would be fine, but I’m not sure. New York’s a little bit different than other places.

Q: What would your advice be to players about to play in their first World Series?

A: It’s still the same game. People try to make it seem like there’s so much pressure because obviously it’s the World Series, but it’s still the same game, so just continue to be who you are and play how you’ve been playing. That’s what’s gotten you to that particular point.

Derek Jeter, pictured in 2009, won his first World Series in 1996 and experienced his final one that season.
Getty Images

Q: Recollections of your first one in 1996?

A: I remember Mr. T [Joe Torre], just because in ’96 that was his first time to the World Series after all those years. I remember him telling us to enjoy it, he said, “Look, it’s difficult to get to a World Series, but now that you’re here, try to enjoy it as much as you can.”

Q: What do you think would be the most compelling World Series this year?

A: You have the Rangers who’ve never won a World Series. You’ve got Houston trying to become the first back-to-back winner since we did it, since we won three in a row. So I think there’s a storyline on both sides. It seems like Houston’s that team nowadays where you either love ’em or you hate ’em, there’s no in-between. And then on the National League side, you have a young up-and-coming Arizona team, then at the same time you have the rabid Phillies fans, and the home-field advantage that they have. You have storylines any way you look at it.

Derek Jeter made his Old-Timers’ Day debut in September.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Q: Who are the stars the public should pay attention to from each team when the World Series begins?

A: From the Rangers, I’d say Corey Seager. He’s pretty impressive to watch. He seems like he’s unflappable, never gets too high, too low, you can’t tell from his expression. But he could do it all. He can hit, he can defend, he can steal bases. Houston, what [Yordan] Alvarez is doing is fun to watch as a baseball fan. He seems to be locked in as any player that’s played in the postseason. Arizona, Corbin Carroll is exciting to watch, young rookie outfielder. And from Philly — Bryce Harper. The expectations that have been on his shoulders since he was in high school, he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 years old. He seems to rise to the occasion. I think there’s stars everywhere, but those are the ones that come to mind first.

Q: Phillies manager Rob Thomson?

A: I love Rob Thomson. I was with Rob Thomson since I was 18 years old, 19 years old in the minor leagues. Rob’s done everything. He’s as prepared as anyone, he’s a player’s manager, the players love him, and there’s a reason why they’ve had so much success since Rob Thomson took over.

Q: What do you remember about the young Justin Verlander and how he’s evolved as a pitcher?

A: He was overpowering when he first came up when we first started facing him. He threw harder, he had a big breaking ball, and he didn’t shy away from the big moments, and I think it’s the same for him now. The velocity’s not as hard, but I think he’s a better pitcher now than he was when he came up. Even though he was good, I think he was more of a thrower, he could rear back and throw it by you. Now he’s developed into an all-around pitcher.

Q: What about the young Max Scherzer and the Scherzer now?

A: When he came up in Detroit, and it was him and Verlander pitching on the same pitching staff, he’s got that mental toughness, he wants to finish everything he starts. He never wants to come out of a game, and you appreciate that when you’re competing against him. But he’s a bulldog, and I’ve always respected that about him.

Q: What do you know about Craig Counsell, who has been rumored to be the next Mets manager?

A: I went on a recruiting trip to Notre Dame when I was in high school, and actually my host was Counsell’s roommate, so I ended up staying with Counsell the night that I was there. I don’t know him well … obviously he’s had some success as a player, and he’s done a pretty good job in Milwaukee, too. I can’t comment on where he’s gonna go or the team he’s gonna manage. But I guess I can say I’ve admired him from afar.

Q: What was your view of the 2023 Yankees from afar? What was missing?

A: It all boils down to consistency. It seems like they never really got on a roll. They played in a tough division. Baltimore surprised a lot of people. You go through a 162-game schedule when everyone’s gunning for you, which they always are when you play for the Yankees, there was not a level of consistency there that’s needed to get to the postseason.

Derek Jeter returned to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers’ Day in September.
Robert Sabo for the NY Post

Q: Is it hard for you to believe that they haven’t won a Series since 2009?

A: Somewhat. But I said it when I was there — it’s not easy to win. We made it look easy at times. It’s not easy. You have to have a great team obviously to get to the postseason, I know you’ve heard me say it before, but the hottest team wins. You have to get there, you have to get hot at the right time, need a lot of breaks. But yeah, I think Yankees fans were spoiled for a long time. Look, Houston’s going for back-to-back, like I said before, first team since we’ve done it, so … not easy to do.

Q: What advice would you have for Tom Brady when he becomes one of your Fox colleagues?

A: I don’t necessarily think Tom needs advice. As a football fan, I want to hear what Tom has to say about different situations in a game. He’s an expert at playing the game, playing the sport, and I think the insights he’s gonna be able to bring I think is gonna peak the interest of the fan base.

Q: What do you hope the viewers say about Derek Jeter on television?

A: You try to be yourself, you want to have fun. You give your opinions on different scenarios, and your opinion’s not always gonna be right. But you try to share your experiences. I hope they enjoy the perspective that I have that may be similar from my playing career.

Derek Jeter has been a member of Fox Sports’ coverage for the MLB playoffs.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Q: Is television a vehicle for you to fill your post-baseball-playing void?

A: There hasn’t been a day I’ve missed playing the game. I was finished. I got everything I could out of myself, out of my career, on the playing field. … I enjoy the game, so I think it gives me an opportunity to continue to be a part of the game, and I still believe it’s the greatest game in the world, and to be able to share and give back to the next generation of fans; especially the younger generation. I wouldn’t say a void, I think it allows me to continue to be involved.

Q: Do you have any message for Yankees fans?

A: Ah man, Yankees fans are the best. I say I’ve never missed playing the game, but I miss the Yankee fans. And the great thing about the Yankees and the history and the tradition is you run into Yankee fans everywhere, and they remind you how much they appreciate you.