Jeter stands by ‘flip play’; Tito weighs in
It had to be an amusing scene at Yankees’ camp today, what with Terry Francona roaming the clubhouse as a broadcaster and Derek Jeter being asked to defend perhaps the defining play of his career, which happened, oh, 11 years ago.
This came on the heels of Bobby Valentine saying on Tuesday that he thinks that Jeter was out of position on that flip play, and that the Red Sox would never practice that alignment in their cutoff drills. The moment in question happened on Oct. 13, 2001, Game 3 of the Division Series between the Yankees and A’s. Terrence Long lined a double into the corner, and Shane Spencer missed two cutoff men. But there was Jeter on the first-base side of the mound, in position to flip the ball home to Jorge Posda to get Jeremy Giambi, who didn’t bother to slide.
Valentine did tell me this morning he wasn’t trying to malign Jeter because he said, “I love Jeter”.
Anyway, here is what Jeter had to say from Yankees camp. Thanks to colleague Adam Berry for passing these quotes on.
On Bobby V. disputing the notion that the Yankees actually practiced that play. “I mean, we do. You know what I mean? You’ve seen it. You guys have been here.”
What does he think about this being a topic of conversation? “I don’t think anything. I really don’t. I have no thoughts whatsoever. Who cares? Why are we talking about this? They must be bored over there, huh? I don’t understand.”
Valentine’s motivation? “I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do. I could care less, I guess is the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s brought up.”
“Think about it. We don’t practice it? We do. You guys see it. What else can I say. I was out of position? I was where I was supposed to be.”
Terry Francona’s view of the flip play?” I’m sure some of [what Valentine said] is in jest,” Francona said. I don’t know. I wasn’t there, and I’m out of it. I’m out of it. To me, it’s not important whether the Yankees practice that play or not. The fact of the matter is that he’s good enough to make that play. You could practice that play until you’re blue in the face, and he’s probably still the only guy who makes that play. That play was part of baseball lore. Again, I don’t doubt they do practice it. He’s probably the only guy that makes the play. He sees the field better than anybody in baseball. He’s the one guy that makes that play.”
Jeter was much happier to talk about his fellow captain for all these years, Jason Varitek, who will formally retire on Thursday.
“Talking about Varitek, I’ll point out the good things — an unbelievable career. I’m happy for him. I enjoyed competing against him all these years. That’s what we should be talking about as opposed to what Bobby said.”
Valentine praised Varitek in a blanket statement yesterday adding that he “beat up Alex”.
A-Rod didn’t feel like touching it.
“Like I said, I’m not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby. But I will tell you this, I got my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days, Reggie Jackson, so I’ll let him handle that. All right? Thanks.”
More from Jeter: Rivalry still strong? “It’s the same. I don’t know. I can’t tell you that he’s trying to stir it up. I don’t know why you would have to stir it up. I think our rivalry gets so much attention anyway. But I am not saying that he is stirring it up.”
What will Jeter say to Bobby V. when he sees him?
“Hey, Bobby. That’s about it. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, really. A lot of people have said that I wasn’t supposed to be here, and I’ve told you guys from Day 1 that’s where I’m supposed to be. That’s what we work on. He’s not the first person to say that. Since I’ve come up, we’ve done it the same way. We might be doing something like that the next couple days, so I invite all you guys to come out there and see that I’m in the same spot every time.”
How about seeing Tito in the Yankees clubhouse? “Yeah, I’ve always respected Terry. I’ve enjoyed playing against him, getting to know him throughout the years. I have a lot of respect for him and how he manages. Every player that I’ve ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed and the way he dealt with players. I always had a lot of respect for him. Yeah, it is [strange having him in the clubhouse]. But it’s good to see him. He did a great job. It goes without saying how great he did in Boston. I’m happy to see him.”