Commentary

How to make Jeter miss

Originally Published: September 20, 2012
By Rick Reilly | ESPN.com

Derek Jeter is the greatest dodger in history.

Jeter has dodged more questions than inside fastballs. Doesn't matter how perfectly crafted it is, the 38-year-old New York Yankees shortstop will find the exit ramp out of any question. You couldn't fill a shot glass with the good quotes Derek Jeter has given in 18 seasons.

With Jeter, it's Hit or Miss, which we played Friday during my 15 minutes with him in the dugout at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter: What's Hit or Miss?

Me: It's a game. I ask you a question. If it's a Miss, just say "Miss." Don't waste a bunch of time giving me a crappy non-answer.

Jeter: Great, then we can just end it now! 'Cause I'm gonna say "Miss" to every question! [Starts to get up and leave.] Great to see you!

[Funny guy.]

Me: Yeah, but you might actually like some of these questions.

Jeter: [Staring.] I doubt it. Try me. [Sits back down.]

Me: OK, you have five world championship rings. How much do you think about Michael Jordan having six?

Jeter: Think about it? Of course I think about it. He reminds me all the time.

Me: He texts you and reminds you?

Jeter: All the time.

Me: You just passed Willie Mays for 10th on the all-time hit list. Did you have his baseball card as a kid?

Jeter: No, we'd buy the cards just for the gum. Throw out the cards.

Me: For you to pass Pete Rose for No. 1 on that list, you'd probably have to play until you're 45. You want to do that?

Jeter: Miss.

Me: Who had more hits on their 38th birthday, you or Rose?

Jeter: I don't know. I hear it was close.

Me: You. Eleven more.

Jeter: [Staring.]

Me: What would Skip Bayless test positive for?

Jeter: Miss. [Staring hard.]

Me: Jeff Kent is on "Survivor" right now. How would you do on "Survivor"?

Jeter: I wouldn't make it. I eat too much.

Me: You've never won a batting title. You're close this season [off the lead by 11 percentage points]. Would that mean something to you?

Jeter: Sure! Who wouldn't want to win a batting title?

Me: Do you keep track of the batting race?

Jeter: No.

Me: Do you realize [Los Angeles Angels rookie] Mike Trout [who leads the race] was born your senior year in high school?

Jeter: Thanks a lot.

Me: What's the secret to staying single?

Jeter: It goes without saying, doesn't it?

Me: But can you give advice to guys who want to do it?

Jeter: Miss.

Me: Miss, as in "to miss"? Or Miss as in this game?

Jeter: Miss.

Me: Weirdest thing a fan ever sent you?

Jeter: Miss.

Me: Best thing a fan ever sent you?

Jeter: Good luck charms.

Me: Like?

Jeter: You know, charms, rocks, things they've made. I save some of it, see if it works.

Me: Where?

Jeter: In my locker. I take 'em for test drives. If they work, I keep 'em.

Me: What do you have in there now?

Jeter: Nothin'. I'm lookin' for one.

Me: Greatest Yankee of all time.

Jeter: Miss.

Me: When's the last time you met somebody who hadn't heard of you?

Jeter: Oh, more recently than you think. Not everybody's a baseball fan.

Me: What'd you say to this person?

Jeter: "Thank you. That makes me happy."

Me: Who are you voting for?

Jeter: Obama.

Me: Secret dream job?

Jeter: Own a team.

Me: Which team?

Jeter: A good team.

Me: How do you handle the pressure of a long pennant race like this?

Jeter: I have fun with it.

Me: You don't get nervous during a pennant race?

Jeter: I get nervous watching teammates. I get nervous for them. Late in the game, pressure situation, I'm nervous for them.

Me: What about when that person is you?

Jeter: I have fun with it.

Me: Person you still want to meet?

Jeter: [Long pause.] I don't know.

[Looks out on the field and sees pizza tycoon Papa John talking to two New York Knicks.]

Jeter: You meet a lot of people playing here.

Me: You've met everybody you want to?

Jeter: I don't know. Miss.

Me: Miss who?

Jeter: [More staring.]

Me: Which pitcher do you have the most hits off of?

Jeter: I don't know. Maybe [former Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim] Wakefield?

Me: Yes -- 34. Which pitcher have you done the worst off of?

Jeter: I don't know. Don't tell me. I don't want to know.

Me: Jorge Julio [former Baltimore Oriole, among other teams] -- 0-for-14, five K's.

Jeter: I told you not to tell me.

Me: Peyton Manning changed teams this season after 14 seasons with one team. Could you see yourself doing that?

Jeter: Well, if I wanted to keep playing, yes. It's a business. People forget that.

Me: Least favorite phrase?

Jeter: [Long, long pause.] "On pace for." 'Cause it means nothing. "Oh, hey, you're on pace for 70 home runs." So what? It doesn't work like that. You gotta go do it. "On pace for" is just useless.

Me: Last album you downloaded?

Jeter: John Legend.

Me: Book you're reading?

Jeter: Not reading one right now. Miss.

Me: Roger Clemens is making a comeback at 50. What will you be on pace to be doing at 50?

Jeter: Lounging. I'm not going to be doing anything physical. Just a whole lot of lounging.

Me: Do you drink during the season?

Jeter: Miss.

Me: [Pause.]

Jeter: No, wait. Champagne -- when we win.

Rick Reilly | email

Columnist, ESPN.com