Via the Post -
It was a true bromance — until it went foul.
Frenemies Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have spent the past decade taking swings at each other, according to a new unauthorized Jeter biography that shows the splintered relationship was nastier than ever reported and that Bombers brass thought it threatened to fracture the team — and even cost the Yankees money.
“The Captain,” by sportswriter Ian O’Connor, out next month, chronicles the bond between the Yankee stars — a soap-opera saga filled with power and betrayal — from their days as rookies playing for different teams but as close as brothers, to their icy co-existence in The Bronx.
Jeter’s unyielding insistence on loyalty and his dislike for A-Rod during the third baseman’s early years in pinstripes was so legendary that one Yankee official admitted he was too scared to talk to Jeter about making amends with his teammate.
“It would’ve been the last conversation I ever had with Derek,” the official said. “I would’ve been dead to him. It would’ve been like approaching Joe DiMaggio to talk to him about Marilyn Monroe.”
Don Mattingly, then the hitting coach and former captain, tried to intervene, citing his own unfriendly history with teammate Wade Boggs. “I faked it with Boggs,” he told Jeter. “And you have to fake it with Alex.”
So it was understandable that Jeter was less than thrilled when the Bombers traded for his foe before the 2004 season.
Clubhouse sniping came quickly. An unnamed player described the new arrival as “very phony,” the book says. A-Rod would ignore stadium employees and seemed oblivious to fans, even sick young kids, who clamored for his autograph. Jeter, who prized poise and selflessness, dismissed A-Rod and his diva-like behavior.
And when fans and rival players criticized A-Rod, Jeter deferred instead of defending his teammate.
General Manager Brian Cashman noticed this and asked Jeter to “fake it” with A-Rod.
“You’ve got to lead them all, the ones you like and the ones you don’t,” he told him. He asked him to appeal to Yankee fans on A-Rod’s behalf.
“I can’t tell the fans what to do,” Jeter countered.
A-Rod’s obsession with Jeter continued, the book says. He constantly asked players and team officials about Jeter — down to which charity he was currently supporting.
It all came to a head during a Yankee loss in August 2006 to Baltimore.
An easy pop-up hung in the air between A-Rod and Jeter. Both players closed in and Jeter bumped into A-Rod, knocking the ball out of his glove. Jeter shot A-Rod a withering look.
The gesture did not go unnoticed. Cashman pulled Jeter aside and ordered him to knock it off.
“Listen, this has to stop,” Cashman said. “Everybody in the press box, every team official, everyone watching, they saw you look at the ball on the ground and look at him with disgust like you were saying, ‘That’s your mess, you clean it up.’ ”
A-Rod also felt betrayed by manager Joe Torre, who players said added fuel to the fiery feud.
“He would never call Jeter on anything, but he’d have no problem doing it to Alex,” one player told the author.
Things didn’t gel until A-Rod hit rock bottom in 2009. He had been “emasculated,” outed as a steroid user and an unfaithful husband the year before.
Jeter began engaging in small talk with the third baseman in the clubhouse and he and girlfriend Minka Kelly even dined with A-Rod and his then-flame Kate Hudson, where they all seemed to enjoy each other’s company, the author says.
I swear that I once saw this same exact love-hate-love story arc played out in an episode of Love American Style starring Jack Cassidy and Stefanie Powers…