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  • (suspenseful music)

  • - [Narrator] Here are Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter

  • in the 90s.

  • They were opponents but loved each other so much

  • that it bothered their teammates.

  • Here are Rodriguez and Jeter in 2017,

  • so uncomfortable that sitting

  • through an interview together is a chore.

  • What happened to this close friendship

  • and what replaced it?

  • Was it beef?

  • (suspenseful music)

  • It was the furthest thing from beef at the outset.

  • Jeter had just been drafted by the Yankees

  • when a starstruck Rodriguez, still in high school, met him

  • at a college baseball game in 1993.

  • Rodriguez was drafted that year by the Mariners

  • and thereupon began the blossoming.

  • Their careers blossomed

  • as they worked their way into the Majors.

  • In 1996, Jeter became Rookie of the Year

  • and helped the Yankees win their first World Series

  • since the 70s.

  • A-Rod became an All-Star, MLB Batting Champion,

  • and AL MVP runner-up,

  • but his Seattle team fell short of the postseason,

  • and their friendship blossomed.

  • A-Rod and Jeter would sleep at each other's homes

  • when their teams played

  • and were so chummy during Mariners-Yankees games

  • that teammates would tease them about it.

  • In fact, Jeter got publicly chastised

  • by teammate, Chad Curtis, for goofing off

  • with the opposing A-Rod

  • during a Yankees-Mariners brawl in 1999.

  • But the two were inseparable.

  • They were the cover boys in a 1997 Sports Illustrated

  • about MLB's great young shortstops,

  • and, well, I can't mention that

  • without showing you the famous shirtless shortstops photo

  • on the inside.

  • I didn't expense this magazine, for the record.

  • This is coming home with me.

  • (upbeat instrumental) So, things were going great,

  • but an interesting dynamic was forming,

  • a familiar one in the beef history universe.

  • A-Rod was better at baseball.

  • He managed to stand out even in lineups featuring monsters

  • like Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay Buhner, and Edgar Martinez,

  • but the Mariners lacked pitching

  • outside of Randy Johnson and never went far,

  • and A-Rod's national popularity

  • perhaps lagged behind his individual excellence.

  • Jeter was much more famous.

  • He was young and good-looking in New York

  • which got him more attention from fans

  • and press and Mariah Carey.

  • Jeter's numbers were quite good in their own right,

  • and he was part of a historically dominant Yankees team

  • that won the World Series again in 1998

  • and then in 1999 and 2000 as well.

  • They made that last World Series

  • by defeating A-Rod's Mariners in the ALCS,

  • and they were definitely A-Rod's Mariners at that point,

  • having traded both Johnson and Griffey in the years prior.

  • A-Rod was unbelievable in that series,

  • and Jeter wasn't much worse.

  • The Yankees won and Jetes went on to be World Series MVP.

  • Rodriguez became a free agent that winter,

  • and the Yankees had interest in his services,

  • though they'd want him to move to third base

  • since Jeter had shortstop locked down.

  • A-Rod said nah, he'd rather beat the Yankees

  • than be a Yankee.

  • They've already won enough.

  • But Rodriguez did flirt with the crosstown rival

  • the Yankees had just vanquished in that World Series.

  • Super agent, Scott Boras, came to the New York Mets

  • not only looking for a massive contract

  • but for big market perks and fame surpassing Jeter's.

  • A-Rod wanted his own office and marketing team,

  • billboards galore, access to a private jet, and so forth.

  • The Mets said nah, man, nevermind.

  • A-Rod wound up with the lowly Texas Rangers,

  • signing what was, at that point,

  • the richest pro sports contract ever,

  • 252 million dollars over ten years.

  • With much less fanfare, Jeter was in the process

  • of negotiating a new longterm deal to stay in New York,

  • and the newly mega-rich A-Rod had some thoughts.

  • On ESPN Radio, in December 2000, Rodriguez speculated who,

  • if anyone, might match his record salary

  • and ruled out his pal, Jeter.

  • He didn't have the power numbers,

  • didn't do the same stuff defensively.

  • Rodriguez even threw out some guesses on the money

  • for which Jeter would eventually sign,

  • and the papers noticed.

  • Jeter dismissed the comments.

  • He wasn't trying to break salary records.

  • He was trying to break championship records.

  • Doesn't mean he wasn't getting paid though.

  • In February, Jeter agreed to stay with the Yankees

  • on a ten year, 189 million dollar deal.

  • While finalizing baseball's second largest contract,

  • he simply stated, "I don't play for money.

  • "I play to win. Everybody makes good money."

  • Man, I wish I was good at sports.

  • So now both friends were making yacht loads of cash,

  • but Alex wasn't done talking.

  • Esquire gave Rodriguez a big profile

  • that ran around the start of the '01 season.

  • Jeter's name came up a few times.

  • He came up when Rodriguez grumbled about how sportswriters,

  • like Mike Lupica, rank Jeter "way up there,"

  • while painting himself as a "dickhead,"

  • and Jeter came up again when, provoked a bit by Boras,

  • Rodriguez said Derek had "been blessed with great talent

  • "around him," never really "had to lead,"

  • and was never the main "concern" in a killer Yankees lineup.

  • All fair points, but maybe not the coolest thing to say

  • to the national media about your best friend.

  • As soon as the article published,

  • Jeter was ambushed by reporters at spring training.

  • He told them he would have to chat with A-Rod

  • about his intentions in saying stuff like that.

  • Rodriguez, who was privately flabbergasted

  • at how he came off in the article,

  • insisted the comments were taken out of context

  • and he would never dog his friend like that.

  • He even enlisted the article's author, Scott Raab,

  • to fax Jeter an apology to which he got no reply.

  • Rodriguez realized the blame would fall on him

  • and drove from Rangers spring training

  • to Jeter's house in Tampa to ask forgiveness.

  • Jeter was dining out at the time

  • and supposedly prolonged his meal

  • to delay the confrontation as long as possible.

  • The next day Jeter reportedly looked miffed

  • and still said he was confused about the whole incident

  • but told media that he and Rodriguez had talked,

  • he'd given his friend the benefit of the doubt,

  • they'd stay friends, and he had a feeling Alex was done

  • running his mouth like that.

  • So, not exactly forgiveness,

  • but Jeter wanted more than anything to stop talking

  • about stuff that wasn't baseball.

  • This will be a theme.

  • And that did put a stop to things.

  • A-Rod said he loved his friend,

  • and he was indeed done talking about him.

  • In his next game at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez got booed

  • and then he homered to help the Rangers to a rare victory.

  • And the interactions between the two at the All-Star Game

  • were only noteworthy because Alex introduced Derek

  • to pop star, Joy Enriquez, his date for the occasion,

  • and she ended up Derek's girlfriend.

  • After that taste of beef,

  • a little slider, an empanada, perhaps,

  • things had quieted down

  • and they stayed that way for a few years.

  • Jeter's Yankees hit their version of a drought,

  • losing the World Series in 2001 and 2003

  • and failing to make it that far at all in 2002.

  • Meanwhile, Rodriguez was putting up MVP numbers

  • over in Texas, but the Rangers spent the whole time losing.

  • After another crappy season in 2003,

  • Texas realized paying one dude a gajillion dollars

  • wasn't worth it if they were just gonna lose all the time,

  • so they tried to trade Rodriguez to the Red Sox

  • in a big, complicated deal that would have changed

  • the parameters of his contract

  • and netted the Rangers Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester.

  • It would've been a big deal,

  • but the Players' Union shot it down

  • because they didn't want Rodriguez voluntarily diminishing

  • the value of his contract like that.

  • Texas was now ready to move on with A-Rod,

  • but then the Yankees came calling by surprise.

  • The Yankees were loath to mess with Jeter's role

  • even with a better shortstop available,

  • but they did have a hole at third base

  • after Aaron Boone suffered a freak off-season injury.

  • So what about A-Rod joining the Yankees

  • and shifting over a position.

  • Kind of weird, but Rodriguez wanted to get the hell out

  • of Texas and a deal was done.

  • The best shortstop in baseball was now a Yankee,

  • but he wasn't playing shortstop,

  • and the guy who was playing shortstop

  • maybe still had a grudge against him.

  • The ensuing press conference,

  • in which a kind of glum looking Jeter dressed A-Rod

  • in his pinstripes, was fittingly awkward,

  • but the two of them were saying the right things,

  • and Rodriguez took his move to third base in stride.

  • Both players knew their relationship

  • would be under scrutiny.

  • Jeter claimed the worst thing that could happen

  • for the local media would be

  • for him and Rodriguez to get along.

  • Rodriguez joked that paparazzi would have

  • to see them holding hands and going to a movie

  • to declare any beef dead.

  • Jeter, ever wary of drama, tried to downplay any discomfort

  • at spring training, no problems, let it go, it's over.

  • Rodriguez also said any feud was behind them,

  • but he was characteristically more candid.

  • He revealed to the public that drive he'd taken

  • to Jeter's house for forgiveness in 2001,

  • and he acknowledged that friends,

  • who had one been tied at the hip,

  • didn't have the same relationship anymore.

  • Those were the kind of statements

  • that would keep the media spotlight

  • on the two of them, intentionally or not,

  • and definitely annoy Jeter.

  • Throughout that first season,

  • the two of them were careful not to betray any tension

  • and things mostly quieted down,

  • but Rodriguez had some dramatic moments

  • on the field against the rival Red Sox.

  • In July, he provoked a huge brawl at Fenway.

  • In October, he was arguably the face

  • of the Yankees historic ALCS collapse against Boston.

  • He batted two for 17 during New York's losses

  • in games four through seven.

  • That included the bizarre moment in Game Six when,

  • instead of simply running out the weak grounder he hit

  • with Jeter on first, A-Rod slapped the ball

  • out of Bronson Arroyo's glove,

  • screwing up New York's momentum that inning

  • and generating a controversy that lasted

  • well after Boston's eventual World Series victory.

  • Noted asshole, Curt Schilling, drew unfavorable comparisons

  • between A-Rod's lack of composure and Jeter's class.

  • Months later, Trot Nixon said Rodriguez "couldn't stand up

  • "to Jeter" or some other longtime Yankee greats.

  • Kevin Millar joined in, too.

  • The Red Sox deliberately and repeatedly

  • used Jeter's name to pick on A-Rod.

  • Jeter, naturally, was asked about those comments

  • but refused to stick up for his teammate.

  • That was really the shape of this relationship

  • for a few years.

  • A-Rod generating stories,

  • and Jeter trying so, so hard to avoid them.

  • (upbeat music) The two never went