In every major sport, there are a handful of stars known in media circles to be too professional, too tight-lipped and politically correct to say something interesting about non-sports topics in interviews. In the NFL, Eli Manning might lead that group. As far as the NBA, Tim Duncan comes to mind. In MLB, that man probably is Derek Jeter.
At this very moment, the New York Yankees’ longtime cornerstone is hosting a bunch of famous people at the Avila Golf & Country Club in Tampa for his 10th Annual Derek Jeter Celebrity Golf Classic presented by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Jeter is golfing, too, but not really. And not very well, that’s for sure. But embarrassment is a small price to pay for the shortstop, who’s raising funds for his Turn 2 Foundation.
Between thwacks of the club, Jeter, who’s been cleared to resume baseball activity following surgery on his broken ankle, was kind enough to give Blitz a call this morning -- at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. PT, but still.
Here’s what happens when the very first thing you do when you awake is hop on the phone with the typically reserved Derek Jeter for a Q&A that, you’re told by his reps, can’t touch on baseball topics.
Thanks for the call, Derek.
Yeah, no problem, Sam. How you doing today?
Well, it’s very early here in L.A. Thanks for that, by the way.
[Laughs.] Hey, it’s early over here, too.
Are you actually calling me from the golf course?
Isn’t that terrible golf etiquette?
Well, there’s a lot of bad etiquette going on right now. We’ve got speakers and DJs and everything. We’re throwing etiquette right out the window.
That makes sense. Hard Rock, your partner on this, is a fun spot. Are you serving your guys and girls alcohol on the course?
Well, I’m not sure. There’s none right here where I’m at. But you never know. I’ll let you know in about an hour or so, as the other groups go by.
I, for one, am a terrible golfer unless you pack beer for me. Are you a better golfer when you drink?
Well, I’m not much of a golfer anyway. I don’t really golf. I’m only out here once a year for a golf tournament. I take one shot with every group. This year, I’m only putting. And my putts aren’t very good.
I’ve read you’re doing well in your recovery from your broken ankle, and you’ve been cleared to resume baseball activity. Does that mean you’re clear to play golf today?
Well, I’m cleared to putt, how about that?
You’ve got some good names over there –- CC Sabathia, Joe Torre, Kevin Connolly, to name a few. Give me the dirt: Who’s doing well, who’s stinking it up?
There’s only been two groups so far, because we just started. But usually the star is Andres Galarraga. Usually the worst? [Laughs.] You’re not going to get me in trouble, man. I’m usually the worst, how about that? I’ll be politically correct and say me.
Some offseason questions: Best movie you saw during Oscar season?
I liked "Lincoln." And I liked "Flight." Those two were pretty good.
If you had to pick one: What’s the song of your offseason?
The song of my offseason is probably "Clique," by Kanye and Jay-Z. I like that one. It’s in the rotation right now.
What new hobby did you pick up this offseason?
I couldn’t. I was on the couch with a broken ankle. I have no new hobbies. My hobby was watching TV. I was stuck for a couple of months.
Best and worst vacations you went on this winter?
My best vacation is somewhere I could hide, somewhere warm and not a lot of people around. I don’t have a worst. I can have fun anywhere, as long as I’m with good people. But in the offseason, I like to go somewhere warm, a nice spot in the Caribbean.
Let’s move on, quickly. Final thing: What’s the craziest thing the tabloids have written about you this offseason?
This offseason, probably that I gained 50 pounds, with that picture they ran. There’s been some crazy ones, but this offseason that was the craziest one.
Where does the truth lay on that issue?
I gained zero weight. Nada. Yeah, that was made up.
So, what’s the craziest thing they’ve ever written about you?
The craziest thing? I don’t even want to say it. Then they’ll talk about it again.
That makes sense. I’m all set, Derek.
Yeah, I gotta go take a shot real quick. Thanks, man.