The Captain Review: Derek Jeter ESPN Docuseries unpacks Yankee’s legacy

Deep in the fifth episode of “The Captain,” ESPN’s new docuseries acknowledge the difficulty of cracking the chosen topic. Derek Jeter was perhaps a preeminent shortstop and a legendary Yankees player whose meteoric rise and dwindling career mirrored his team’s own evolution as a New York sports dynasty. But it’s also an extremely cautious (read: boring) interview, according to both himself and the many frustrated journalists who couldn’t get past its surface.

“That’s intentional,” confirms Jeter in front of the camera and unleashes a real grin when he takes the picture. He even says that “there are things I still won’t talk about” here and now for the supposedly in-depth docu-series about his own life (which premieres July 18 after the Home Run Derby and will have seven episodes). total). This contradiction lies at the heart of Randy Wilkins’ The Captain, which generally can only go as deep as Jeter himself allows.

The image that emerges in the early episodes, according to Jeter himself, is that of a consummate professional who has worked hard, earned success, and avoided distractions at all costs. Typically, Jeter comes closest to revealing anything even remotely personal when he acknowledges just how much growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is biracial, his “must be twice as good as everyone else” mentality going forward . Interviews with Jeter’s black father, white mother, and multiracial sister underscore this fact, making it clear that even when white journalists considered Jeter “colorless” — a direct quote from a Yankees Beat reporter in a later episode, much to Jeter’s clear and uncharacteristic anger – it couldn’t be further from the truth.

This discussion of Jeter’s perceptions as a star and as a black athlete who hasn’t surpassed others even on his team proves particularly intriguing (as one might expect from a series that also counts Spike Lee as executive producer). Only multiple episodes get into the series’ investigation of what made Jeter such a phenomenon — which feels way too late, even if it’s intended to keep casual ESPN fans busy if they’d otherwise miss the channel at first mention of the race would have changed .

When it comes to baseball, Jeter follows his career standard by keeping his quotes as simple as possible. The difference between him and someone like Alex Rodriguez, his more bombastic rival-turned-teammate, couldn’t be greater than the juxtaposed memories of past grievances as Rodriguez throws up his hands for putting his foot in his mouth while Jeter a tense smile consumes . With Jeter far from being the most revealing interview on the show, The Captain inevitably becomes more of a deep dive into the late ’90s and early ’80s Yankees as a cultural juggernaut, while remaining anchored in Jeter’s presence as his narrative constant.

So if you’re a baseball enthusiast in general, or just casually aware of the Yankees’ total dominance at the turn of the century, there’s plenty to chew on here. Jeter is joined not only by A-Rod, but also by Daryl Strawberry, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, manager Joe Torre, and (Jeter’s personal favorite player) Dave Winfield. Occasionally sportswriters and mainstays from New York during the Yankees and Jeter’s Peaks chime in to provide context as to how and why this team and this player became what they did. With Jeter as the rumored lead character, however, “The Captain” can’t quite get to the bottom of what made the Yankees do so well – or, when they fell to a team like the Boston Red Sox in 2004, so frustratingly – with enough depth, to really satisfy. (If you’re looking for Jeter’s thoughts on A-Rod vs. Jason Varitek, don’t worry: They don’t even do it to name it.)

And with Jeter on high alert for revealing too much, the show sometimes struggles to say a lot more about him than we already know. But that reticence also makes the moments when he breaks, even just a little bit, a lot more revealing. If Jeter allows himself to be a little petty or complacent, or a worse loser than his carefully friendly post-game interviews would suggest, “The Captain” becomes all the more compelling, despite his subject’s best efforts.

The Captain airs Monday, July 18 at 10 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN+. The Captain Review: Derek Jeter ESPN Docuseries unpacks Yankee’s legacy

Charles Jones

Charles Jones is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Charles Jones joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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