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Derek Jeter Admits He Has 'Zero Patience' With His Struggling MLB Team

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For two decades, Derek Jeter and winning baseball went together like New York City and pizza.

The 14-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, 2000 World Series MVP, and likely Hall of Famer started every spring training fully expecting his New York Yankees to have a chance at winning the championship.

So now that Jeter is CEO of the Miami Marlins, one of two teams to defeat the Yankees in the Fall Classic during Jeter’s time with the team — doing so in 2003 — it has been one heck of an adjustment in terms of expectations.

And Jeter’s been less than pleased about this brave new baseball reality.

The 63-98 Marlins were dead last in the National League last season and had the fourth-worst record in all of baseball.

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Their three best players from 2017 — catcher JT Realmuto and outfielders Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton — are on the Phillies, Brewers, and Yankees respectively.

They can’t add payroll because their attendance situation is “couldn’t-draw-flies-if-you-covered-them-in-honey” level bad, vying year in and year out with the Tampa Bay Rays for the distinction of the most empty seats in the stadium. The only well-attended games they have are against teams from bigger markets whose fans have either relocated to South Florida or travel well, and make it feel like a road game for the homestanding Marlins.

But Jeter’s not about to start spouting any of that “be patient” or “trust the process” motivational-speaker malarkey.

“I have no patience,” Jeter said at a news conference Monday at Marlins Park, according to The Associated Press. “I have zero patience. I’ve been preaching it. I don’t have it.”

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He’s looking for his team to start getting a winning mindset — starting now.

“Patience is something that you have to learn,” Jeter said, according to the AP.

“But I’m fine with not being patient. It’s like I say: When you’re at the major-league level, you’re here for a reason, because these players have been better than most other players in this country and in other countries as well. And if you’re here, you have an opportunity to win. I can’t preach that enough.”

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That said, Jeter is doing things the right way, building a downright impressive farm system that will create a pipeline of talent that may prove to be the biggest revolution in baseball since Billy Beane got a book (“Moneyball”) written about his approach.

With free agent contracts for veteran players — exactly the contracts that attendance-poor teams like the Marlins can ill-afford to throw big money at — falling out of favor in MLB and with the sweet spot looking like having a roster of homegrown players still on team-friendly rookie deals or arbitration contracts, the new normal might just be what the Marlins are doing.

Jeter stayed behind the scenes in 2018, but he’s expecting to take more of a hands-on role in 2019.

One man who seems impressed with Jeter’s resolve is Marlins manager — and Jeter’s teammate when Jeter was a September call-up way back in 1995 — Don Mattingly.

“Derek’s not going to be patient with not playing the game right, not getting after it every day, not competing,” Mattingly told the AP. “He knows where we’re at. In a sense you have to have some patience. But you don’t have patience if a guy’s not playing the game right, if he’s not trying to get better every day, if he’s not working. That’s where he’s not going to have patience.”

Utility man Neil Walker joined the Marlins to be a veteran presence in the clubhouse. After spending last season on the Yankees, Walker sounds impressed by the culture Jeter is trying to build in Miami.

“In talking with Derek, talking with (president of baseball operations) Michael Hill, talking with Donnie, they’ve really sat down as an organization and thought about where they were, where they presently are and where they hope to go,” Walker said, according to the AP.

“Their enthusiasm and their vision is contagious. And I know just from early talks with all three of them, they believe in the guys in this locker room and they believe in the direction this organization’s going.”

The Marlins have been desperately trying to connect with the Latin-American culture in the Miami area, trying to get local Hispanic fans to rally around “el equipo de beisbol” and boost attendance numbers.

The team’s been listening to the fans, even going so far as to potentially allow fans to bring musical instruments into the stadium and give the games a flavor more akin to a soccer match than a baseball game, AP reports.

Jeter acknowledged the rift between the baseball team and the community.

“Look, I never shied away from the fact that there’s a complicated history here with the fan base,” Jeter said, according to the AP. “I get it. We weren’t here for that. We’re taking over an organization that hadn’t had much success at all for the last 15, 16 years. So in order to change that, we had to make changes.”

Jeter closed with his hope that things will get better sooner rather than later.

“We need to see improvement,” Jeter said. “We need to see improvement from some of our younger guys that got an opportunity to play last year. That’s how you get better. We can sit and talk about minor-league systems all you want, but it gets to a point when you’re in Miami that you have to develop and improve year in and year out. That’s how you become a great team.”

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Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Boston born and raised, Fox has been writing about sports since 2011. He covered ESPN Friday Night Fights shows for The Boxing Tribune before shifting focus and launching Pace and Space, the home of "Smart NBA Talk for Smart NBA Fans", in 2015. He can often be found advocating for various NBA teams to pack up and move to his adopted hometown of Seattle.
Birthplace
Boston, Massachusetts
Education
Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada-Reno
Location
Seattle, Washington
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Sports




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