Not every friendship made on the baseball field is a home run.
Sports fans will never forget the early 2000s when Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter became teammates while playing for the New York Yankees. But as the dynamic duo helped their team reach the playoffs, some behind-the-scenes drama took place that threatened their bond for good.
In ESPN's upcoming The Captain documentary, viewers get a sense into what went wrong between the players after Alex participated in a 2001 interview with Esquire. According to Derek, his teammate's public comments "bothered me."
"I'm very, very loyal," he said in the documentary, according to the New York Post. "As a friend, I'm loyal. I just looked at it as, ‘I wouldn't have done it.' And then it was the media. The constant hammer to the nail. They just kept hammering it in. It just became noise, which frustrated me. Just constant noise."
So what did Alex say exactly that was so upsetting? When speaking to writer Scott Raab in 2001, Alex said Derek was fortunate to play for an absolutely stacked New York team.
"Jeter's been blessed with great talent around him so he's never had to lead," Alex said. "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."
In the documentary, Alex said he apologized after the interview surfaced. And while Derek was open to moving on, his teammate messed things up again when he later told radio host Dan Patrick that "there's not one thing he does better than me."
Needless to say, Derek was less than impressed.
"When you talk about statistics, mine never compared to Alex's," Derek said in the documentary. "I'm not blind. I understand that. But, we won! You can say whatever you want about me as a player. That's fine. But then it goes back to the trust, the loyalty. This is how the guy feels. He's not a true friend, is how I felt. Because I wouldn't do it to a friend."
More than 20 years later, both players have moved on to other chapters of their career. And while their time as Yankee players provided plenty of wins, the game of baseball may have also provided Derek and Alex some life lessons.
"I think it's really not [my] understanding the way things work," Alex said in the doc when reflecting on his behavior. "In many ways, my father leaving when I was 10, not getting that schooling at home — the hard knocks, the tough love — it resulted in insecurity and some self-esteem issues. As I got older, I realized, all you had to do is be yourself."
The Captain begins July 18 on ESPN and ESPN+ after the Home Run Derby.