During his upcoming seven-part ESPN docuseries The Captain, Jeter acknowledges that their once-close relationship deteriorated after Rodriguez suggested that Jeter had "been blessed with great talent around him" and that he "never had to lead" after winning his fourth of an eventual five World Series championships during a 2001 interview with Scott Raab for Esquire.
“Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I’m very, very loyal,” Jeter said in the upcoming episode of The Captain via 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.
Jeter's friendship with Rodriguez was heavily publicized as the two were among the brightest young shortstops in Major League Baseball during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
But Rodriguez, who had then-recently signed with the Texas Rangers after seven seasons with the Seattle Mariners, seemed to have downplayed Jeter's postseason success during his 2001 interview with Raab, both of whom provide commentary in The Captain, according to the Post.
“He’s reserved, quiet," Rodriguez said at the time. "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.”
Jeter said he believes Rodriguez attempted to diminish his accomplishments as a justification for the then-record 10-year, $252 million contract Rodriguez signed with the Rangers just months before the Esquire feature was published.
“In my mind, he got his contract, so you’re trying to diminish what I’m doing, maybe to justify why you got paid. When you talk about statistics, mine never compared to Alex’s. I’m not blind. I understand that. But, we won! You can say whatever you want about me as a player. That’s fine,” Jeter said via the Post “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.”
Rodriguez claimed, at the time, that his comments were taken out of context and drove to Tampa, Florida -- where the Yankees were holding Spring Training -- to apologize to Jeter, who was inclined to accept, though their friendship was never the same.
The relationship was even more publicized when Rodriguez was acquired by the Yankees in a blockbuster trade in 2004, with many dissecting Jeter's body language during Rodriguez's introductory press conference, as well as their interactions throughout their more than 10 years shared as teammates.
Secret Base put together a full recap of Jeter's feud with Rodriguez for its Beef History YouTube series in 2019, which can be viewed below.