|Book Review: The Captain|
Written by Don Capone (Contact & Archive) on May 08, 2011
Derek Jeter is a baseball icon -- a former Rookie of the Year, an all-star, a world champion, captain of the New York Yankees and a future hall of famer. You have to wonder if -- while he's at home in his mansion with his actress girlfriend -- he ever has a Talking Heads moment. You know, "Well, how did I get here?"
The subtitle of this book is "The Journey of Derek Jeter" and that's exactly what it is. From his boyhood dream of playing for the Yankees; to getting drafted by New York; to his early struggles as a green, homesick eighteen year-old minor leaguer; to the reality of breaking in as a rookie in 1996; and eventually leading the Yankees to five championships, the most recent of which as the team's captain.
But this book isn't just about Jeter's journey. It's also about the journey of Jeter's Yankees, from his first season as a full-time player (1996), through the dynasty years, to his relationship with other Yankees (Joe Torre, Alex Rodriguez), to the new ballpark and World Series win in 2009 and on up to and including the 2010 season, and his public, slightly ugly contract negotiation afterward.
There are thirteen chapters, an introduction and an epilogue. O'Connor covers all the bases (pardon the pun), and is such a good writer that the story flows along nicely, without getting bogged down with boring details, or unnecessary tangents.
He even makes the second chapter, "The Draft," exciting (even though we already know the outcome), as he chronicles how Jeter lasted until the sixth pick of the 1992 draft when the Yanks were finally able to nab him. Who was drafted before him, what teams made those choices, and where are those players now?
Jeter has led a fairly controversy-free career. You could even say a charmed career. Other reviews and promotions of this book focus on the sometimes rocky relationship between Jeter and A-Rod. (A-Rod had said some negative things about Jeter in an interview; Jeter responded with a cold shoulder.)
But I'd say the hubbub is just people trying to sell books, or are looking for more dirt than this book actually contains. We already knew the relationship isn't what it was in the early days, when they where two young hot-shot shortstops on opposing teams, the best of friends who slept over each other's apartments, and were just getting the taste of big league life.
Then there was the rift. Now teammates, Jeter, as a leader of the team, was expected and even outright asked to confront this icy relationship and make amends. Former Yankee captain Don Mattingly even suggested that Jeter "fake it" if he had to, like Mattingly had done with Wade Boggs.
O'Connor covers this well. It is interesting, but more importantly it illustrates Jeter's personality. In fact it illustrates the difference in Jeter's and A-Rod's personalities, but by no means does this section define O'Connor's book. At its heart, The Captain is a success story, an inspirational book about hard work, family and believing in yourself.
AHP Rating: 3 Balls
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