The HBO Special "Derek Jeter 3K" premiered last night and I decided to relax on the couch and tune in. A short synopsis and my thoughts are below.
The hour-long documentary followed Derek Jeter from his injury against the Cleveland Indians on June 13 until the very day he crushed his illustrious 3,000th career hit on July 9. The cameras followed him from his rehabilitation of his right calf down in Tampa Bay to his trip up to Trenton, New Jersey, to Cleveland and, ultimately, back to the Bronx.
The fact that Jeter gave permission for cameras to invade his comfort zone outside of Yankee Stadium gave fans an entirely different perspective on his life. After all, the only Derek Jeter that's ever addressed the media has been the guy that says and does all the right things. He almost seems pure and immortal when all roads predictably lead to his team-first mentality and he never gloats about his personal achievements. This hour exposed us to Jeter being himself.
There were a few notable parts about this documentary that I really enjoyed. We were treated to Jeter working with an instructional hitter named Gary Denbo down in Tampa as he searched for answers on how to tweak his swing. It shows Billy Connors of the Yankees organization deliver a cake on Jeter's birthday which he, despite being thankful for, had some witty comments to throw around. But perhaps most intriguing of all was when the HBO got footage of Jeter in his Upper East Side apartment. His personal chef gave some details on what Jeter's eating habits are and she even knows what Derek's best friends have to eat. He invites friends of all ages, races and genders over for a big pre-game meal the first game of the Tampa Bay series. The cool part about the lunch was that the discussion wasn't about baseball. I'd imagine that a lot of what Derek hears from people is about the Yankees, but his friends have probably gotten past that fact by now.
Minka Kelly was shown on camera as well as Jeter's parents, Bernie Williams, Joe Torre, Jay-Z, Billy Crystal, Joe Girardi and Dave Winfield, to name a few. It even had Christian Lopez and his entire family meeting Derek after the July 9 game.
What I loved about this documentary was Derek Jeter not afraid of being himself. He's successfully kept his private life a mystery ever since breaking into the majors and this hour showed that he has downtime where he isn't being professional. He admits to thinking about the milestone more than he revealed, discusses how strange it is that Bernie and Tino played in Old Timer's Day, and that he really did wing his 2008 speech to close the Old Yankee Stadium.
While this was certainly a glance behind-the-scenes, Jeter was still barely seen with anyone from his family. Maybe because there wasn't much time between his rehab and reaching 3,000, but he's seen walking down the corridor of Progressive Field post-game with his father and that's about it.
If you haven't watched it, I recommend it. It's nothing incredible, but it's an overall great piece. Personally, I think Derek agreed to let HBO do this because he wanted to give back to the fans for all their support. The real reason is anybody's guess.
Last, but not least, was a quote from Dick Groch, the scout who convinced the Yankees to sign young Jeter. When asked if Derek was going to be attending the University of Michigan, he replied, "He's not going to Michigan, the only place he's going is Cooperstown."
Hell of a call on that one, Dick.