ESPN’s selected-games Sunday Night Baseball alternate KayRod Cast feed is back this evening for the New York Yankees–Boston Red Sox game (7 p.m. Eastern). Famed Yankees’ star Derek Jeter (who ESPN just finished airing a seven-part The Captain docuseries on) will join Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez live in studio at approximately 8 p.m. Eastern. It’s interesting to see Jeter appear on an ESPN Yankees-Red Sox broadcast, and to see him do so right after the run of this docuseries (which premiered its final episode on ESPN and ESPN+ Thursday). Here’s what Jeter told ESPN’s Hannah Storm last month about why he wanted to do the docuseries:
It’s also notable to see Jeter joining former teammate Rodriguez for this broadcast, as the two of them have had many public ups and downs to their relationship over the years. That’s especially true considering that the two of them relayed very different perspectives on what broke up their friendship in early episodes of The Captain. Here’s what Jimmy Traina wrote on that at Sports Illustrated last month:
The series goes deep into the deterioration of the friendship between the two players, with Jeter opening up about the fallout like never before. He says of A-Rod, “Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal. As a friend, I’m loyal. I just looked at it as, ‘I wouldn’t have done it.’”
What Jeter is referencing are the following comments A-Rod made in a 2001 Esquire interview.
“Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him. So he’s never had to lead. 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 because you go into New York trying to stop Bernie [Williams] and [Paul] O’Neill and everybody. You never say, ‘Don’t let Derek beat you.’ That’s never your concern.”
The series makes it clear, as does Jeter, that Rodriguez’s remarks are what caused the rift. Jeter is very straightforward about his habit of cutting off people who burn him. Yet, Rodriguez put the blame on his fractured relationship with Jeter on other “people.”
“People, I believe, really got off on trying to drive a wedge between Derek and I,” said Rodriguez. “At the beginning, you have this kind of innocent climb. Once you get a little bit too high, people then want to get two brothers and split them apart.”
Here’s a clip of some of those comments from Jeter in the docuseries:
“You can compare statistics all you want. … I compare who won more.” @derekjeter on the rivalry with A-Rod #TheCaptain pic.twitter.com/m8IN8fjIQD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 22, 2022
It is funny that 21 years later, Jeter has admitted that A-Rod 2001 Esquire interview bugged him. At the time, Jeter said he wasn’t bothered by it, as Devlin Barrett and George King III wrote in The New York Post in March 2001:
Jeter, who eventually signed by comparison a paltry 10-year, $189 million contract, said he was not sore at A-Rod and would phone him soon.
“I’ll ask him tonight,” Jeter said. “I’ll talk to him and let you know.
“The only thing you can ask is what his intentions were,” Jeter said. “Do I think his intentions were bad? No.”
Jeter said the latest brushback from A-Rod would not spoil their friendship.
“Obviously, it didn’t come out good what he supposedly said,” Jeter told reporters. “But he said his intentions weren’t bad, so that’s the way I look at it. We are close . . . He is a good friend of mine.”
So it’s quite notable that Jeter’s now the one offering public criticisms of Rodriguez, while Rodriguez is blaming other people for their divide. And that might make for an unusual studio appearance. But Jeter did say “There is no wedge. Everything’s good. …There are no issues between Alex and I at all” in a Good Day New York interview last month, so it seems like they’ve put some of this aside, at least from Jeter’s perspective.
At any rate, Jeter isn’t the only star guest ESPN has lined up for this broadcast, although he’ll be the only one appearing in studio. This KayRod Cast is also planning to feature Paul Simon, Roger Clemens, and Bob Costas. Those guests will be joining Kay and Rodriguez remotely at different points over the course of the evening.