Not even five World Series rings could’ve prepared Derek Jeter for this.
MLB playoff games are old hat for the 46-year-old Yankees legend, but when the upstart Marlins begin their NL wild-card series against the Cubs on Wednesday, it will be Jeter’s first postseason game as an executive. And it will be unlike anything Miami’s CEO experienced during his 16 MLB playoff runs in pinstripes.
“It’s completely different, because you have no control whatsoever,” Jeter told the New York Times. “You can’t talk to guys while they’re going through a game. Obviously, it’s exciting, because it’s an organization that we built and you’re pulling for guys to be successful. It’s frustrating. It’s all these emotions.”
That Jeter and the Marlins are even here is a remarkable feat. The franchise became the butt of jokes during Jeter’s first season as part of the team’s ownership group in 2018 after the roster was broken down for a rebuild. Miami was the worst team in the National League for two straight years, going 63-98 in 2018 and 57-105 last season.
Then, just as the Marlins began this shortened 60-game season, they had to shut down for more than a week because of a coronavirus outbreak within the team. Miami managed to finish 31-29 to earn the National League’s No. 6 seed in the expanded 16-team playoff, with Jeter’s fellow former Yankees captain Don Mattingly manning the dugout.
“The approach that I’ve talked to our players about since Day 1, the first spring training in 2018, was, ‘Listen: Every single pitch, every at-bat, every inning, every single game counts — and if you take that approach, there’s no added pressure,’” Jeter told the Times. “You get to the postseason, it’s the same game that you played in spring training. That’s the approach we take, and I think it’s a big reason why our group’s been able to bounce back from a lot this year.”