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Of course you want to hate-read Rick Reilly’s creepy open letter to Derek Jeter’s unborn children

May 29, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

Rick Reilly

There was an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” where Mac tried to give Chase Utley a fan letter he wrote. It read like so:

Dear Chase,

I feel like I can call you chase because you and me are so alike. I’d like to meet you one day, it would be great to have a catch. I know I can’t throw as fast as you but I think you’d be impressed with my speed. I love your hair, you run fast. Did you have a good relationship with your father? Me neither. These are all things we can talk about and more. I know you have no been getting my letters because I know you would write back if you did. I hope you write back this time, and we can become good friends. I am sure our relationship would be a real homerun!

Of course, “It’s Always Sunny” is a comedy show and the the main joke here was that this letter, from a grown man, was hilariously juvenile and maudlin and spoke of a man-crush from a man-child that was wholly uncomfortable.

Rick Reilly is not a man-child character in a comedy show, but he too wrote a letter to a baseball crush. This one purporting to be a letter to Derek Jeter’s future children, in which he told them just how amazing and wonderful and classy their dad was. It starts like so:

To Derek Jeter‘s kids (whenever you come along):

You were born too late to know your father the way we did, so I want to take just a minute to let you know what he meant to us.

First of all, if Derek Jeter ever does have children and Rick Reilly tries to tell them about their dad, I would hope and expect the Jeter children’s security team would beat him within an inch of his life.

Second of all, the “know your father the way we did” thing is pretty insane given that there is likely no superstar baseball player in history that “we” know less about than Derek Jeter. Indeed, for all of his accomplishments and exploits, maintaining his privacy to the extent he has in this media-saturated, tell-all day and age may be the most amazing. Maybe some reporter knows a thing or two about Jeter that hasn’t come out yet due to some sourcing issues or an agreement to hold it off the record, but I know for DAMN sure that Rick Reilly doesn’t have any inside scoop on the guy. Let alone scoop that his kids wouldn’t know ten times better than he did.

But really, that sort of captures Reilly and Reilly-style journalism in a nutshell, doesn’t it? The conceit of the Boomer-era columnist that he and he alone knows about the athletes he covers and that we must go to him to get some sort of special insight. Reilly may have a sweet perch from which to write, but for all his years of writing, he has neither cracked the Jeter code nor told us anything uniquely insightful about Jeter’s public persona and especially not his playing ability. He premises this whole thing on his status as a reporter yet reports nothing.

He does manage to creep Jeter’s future hypothetical kids out, though. I mean, would you want to hear this about your dad from some stranger?

Your father was everything men wanted to be. The guy with the $15 million Trump Tower penthouse. The dude dating Miss Universe. The man with all of the talent and none of the jerk. He was everything women wanted, too. The elegant athlete who loved books, paid for everything, and had a limo waiting for them when it was time to go.

“Thanks, you strange old man. I always wanted to know about my dad’s sex life as a bachelor. All kids want to hear that about their dads, really.”

I can’t imagine how this weird, self-parody of an open letter came to be. I can’t imagine what ESPN’s editors who, I presume, are under strict instructions to simply rubber stamp everything Reilly writes and put it on the web, think about this sort of thing. I can’t imagine what reporters who have applied to ESPN and been denied or worked for ESPN and have been let go think about this clearly insane person pulling down seven figures to write this kind of thing.

  1. faccda01 - May 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Thanks for the baseball news!

  2. dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    I really liked this part:

    “He was the best player in baseball for a good 10 years straight and yet he never won a batting title, never won an MVP, never was the highest-paid player in the game. The only thing he did better than anybody else was excel”

    What??? He was the best player in the game (not true), but he wasn’t good at anything specifically? The only thing he was good at was being good in general??? What does that even mean?

    • Old Gator - May 29, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      Yeah, that one sent me running back to my Roland Barthes and Derrida – conventional explication would be helpless against it. I think Rick Reilly needs to have his cerebral dendrites inspected for plaque.

      • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Actually, Reilly contradicts himself later on. There is one thing Jeter is unequivocally good at: leaping into the second row of the stands to catch a foul ball, and injuring himself in the process. Reilly has lost count of exactly how many times Jeter did this, but it must have been millions at least.

      • mikhelb - May 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        @dan1111 you’re right, and he has done it just three or four times overall, with only one of them “flying” to the second row, the others he just “fell” on the stands.

      • nbjays - May 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        The only thing Jeter was unmatched at was Pasta Diving… as in “here’s the pitch, well hit towards short and… Pasta Diving Jeter!”

    • mikhelb - May 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Mike Trout didn’t win a batting title, nor an MVP in his first two years in the big leagues and yet he was the best player in the game those two years (in terms of WAR). If we take into account 2011, a year where Trout played in just a bunch of games, he is still tied with Miguel Cabrera in terms of WAR from 2011-2013 (and ahead of Cabrera from 2011-2014)… so yeah, it is possible.

      • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 10:23 AM

        I am totally on board with your Mike Trout argument.

        Did Reilly make such an argument about Jeter? No.

        He didn’t argue that Jeter has the most WAR over any relevant period (he doesn’t). He didn’t even make an old school argument about Jeter having the most RBI, runs, playing the most games, hitting well in clutch situations, or the like. Never mind that, he didn’t even make the stock argument about Jeter’s leadership and intangibles. Here is the sole support he provides for the idea that Jeter was the best player in the game for 10 years:

        “The only thing he did better than anybody else was excel: five rings, 13 All-Star games, the greatest New York Yankee since Mickey Mantle.”

        Let me translate that for you:

        “The only thing he was the best at was being really good: he was good on really good teams, he was popular because he was good, and he was really good.”

        Calling that a circular argument is an insult to circles.

      • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        Agreed on Trout, but there’s really no argument that Jeter was ever the best player. No slight on him however, he was a great player for a long time. Just not the best.

    • Francisco (FC) - May 29, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Excel man, Excel… Spreadsheet program? by Microsoft?

      • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Oh, so you’re saying he is actually making a dog whistle argument to the sabermetric community? It all makes sense now.

      • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        Jeter knew how to create PivotTables like no one else… even used conditional formatting.

      • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        But sadly, he occasionally ended up at column ZZZ.

        Because he wasn’t able to scroll to his left.

      • dluxxx - May 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM

        Dan, I had to try so hard not to laugh at work that I saw white spots in front of my eyes. There are not enough thumbs for that comment.

    • raysfan1 - May 29, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      A friend of mine, who really didn’t care much for sports, used to try to engage me with some of the most bizarre ideas I’d ever heard. One day in a waiting room I picked up a copy of SI, glanced at the Reilly column, and noticed one of my friend’s more recent themes that had caused me to say WTH and have to explain why the idea was nuts. I then checked older issues, and sure enough, found more bizarre comments my friend had quoted. The next time my friend handed me one of those gems, I just said “Rick Reilly is nuts,” and left it there. That excerpt above is a perfect example.

  3. [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    He was everything women wanted, too. The elegant athlete who loved books, paid for everything, and had a limo waiting for them when it was time to go.

    Jesus christ could you be any more condescending to women? Hear that fellas, just pay for women’s meals, read books, and get them rides home and you’ll have all the womenz you want.

    • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 8:52 AM

      Agreed. But also: are there MLB players with eight-figure salaries who don’t pay for everything when they go on dates?

    • Old Gator - May 29, 2014 at 9:04 AM

      Yeah, and “paid for everything” has all sorts of alternative readings too. I will say this much, though, and Reilly missed it completely: the fact that not one of Beep Beep’s numerous ladyfriends has gone tell-all about their relationships with him also speaks both of a man with impeccable taste in women and who could inspire a respect that outlasted those relationships as well.

      Let’s compare him to Bill Clinton….

      • Francisco (FC) - May 29, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        Maybe he had them all sign pre-gift basket agreements.

      • dluxxx - May 29, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        Maybe he read books to them and then sent them on their way. He’s saving himself for marriage.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Jeter is a gentleman because he didn’t have Pepper Potts to show out his floozies when he was done with them…Also, he can read.

    • thetoolsofignorance - May 29, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      I just read that part to my wife. Her reply is unprintable. She now can’t decide if she finds Jeter more loathsome than Reilly or the reverse. I’ll show her the Papelbon/Ruiz picture next. If I time it while she’s having a sip of coffee this could be good

  4. paperlions - May 29, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    I am sorry. I can’t bring myself to click on a link to anything Reilly writes. The self indulgence combined with complete delusion is just too much.

    • nbjays - May 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

      I am in total agreement here, Paper. I’d rather watch Honey Boo Boo than read any of Reilly’s inane scribbling.

      • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 11:19 AM

        Is that a one thing or the other choice? Can I take neither?

      • nbjays - May 29, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        No, it’s not an either/or. I’d also take neither…. but if I was forced to choose…

      • nbjays - May 29, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Oops… looks like I offended 3 Honey Boo Boo fans.

  5. dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    “In his final goodbye season of 2014, I asked, ‘Who would you cross the street to avoid?’ ‘You,’ he said.”

    And this was before Reilly wrote this creepy article. Imagine how Jeter feels about him now.

  6. ermur221 - May 29, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    What a total douchbag

  7. DelawarePhilliesFan - May 29, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Not as bad as the clown who wrote an “open letter” to Jovan Belchers children, but yea, this is creepy.

    Then again, we are talking about Rick Reilly….probably ranks as just the 3rd dumbest thing he has done this week!

    • dan1111 - May 29, 2014 at 9:07 AM

      And he has only done two things so far.

  8. lazlosother - May 29, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    I read it, if only to remind myself why I don’t pay any attention to ESPN anymore. It made me uncomfortable just to read it, and the “Who would you cross the street to avoid? You.” line is a great moment in self-unawareness. The only thing that could have made the letter worse was if Reilly had lamented the fact that he couldn’t bear Jeter’s children himself.

    • largebill - May 29, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      “The only thing that could have made the letter worse was if Reilly had lamented the fact that he couldn’t bear Jeter’s children himself.”

      Have no fear, that will be in the follow up letter in the next issue.

  9. Old Gator - May 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Children are horrible. Children who don’t even exist yet are more horrible still. They oscillate with unrealized potential for damaging the furniture, poisoning the goldfish, heavy breathing calls to the obnoxious little girl at the desk in front of them and vectoring home nightmarish mutant viruses from kindergarten. Riley has blown open a Pandora’s box here….

    • happytwinsfan - May 29, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Still, even unborn children aren’t as bad as biologically adult children.

  10. sdelmonte - May 29, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    The funny thing is that Jeter really seems to be put off by all the nonsense. Unlike certain other Yankees who everyone loved, he is not reveling in his farewell tour. He just wants to play.

    • mikhelb - May 29, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      The only other Yankee to have a farewell tour was Mariano Rivera and he merely gave back to people nobody else cares about. The media chose to cover that, so be it, that’s on them.

  11. brownsfan33 - May 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Come on Craig, so now your job is to sit back and criticize every other baseball writer? Rick Reilly has written some amazing columns in his life, and this is clearly not his best work. But why the need to even write this? Is it necessary? This seems to be going too far. Is this is a blog about baseball or about baseball writers?

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 29, 2014 at 9:20 AM

      You must be new here. Media criticism has been an integral part of HBT since the day we launched five years ago and has been something I’ve been doing since I began blogging seven years ago.

      • mikhelb - May 29, 2014 at 9:42 AM

        “I would hope and expect the Jeter children’s security team would beat him within an inch of his life.”

        WHOA!!! Really? You should read the piece about Stow, you know, written by… YOU. To hope somebody gets beaten almost to death? WHOA!

      • abaird2012 - May 29, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        Oh, relax.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Rick Reilly has written some amazing columns in his life, and this is clearly not his best work. But why the need to even write this?

      Maybe because some of us believe that columnists, especially highly paid columnists, at the world’s biggest sports site should actually write good articles? When’s the last time you read something by Reilly that was worth the (non) paper it was printed on? Was it his “judge an athlete on how much he tips” article? Was it one of the many articles he plagiarized from earlier editions of himself? Was it this article? He’s so condescending throughout many of his articles, I don’t know why anyone would still read him?

      Where’s the Rick Reilly who wrote this article?

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1111767/1/index.htm

      • Kevin S. - May 29, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        How about the time he used his Native American father-in-law to justify defending the Redskins name, only to have the FIL come out and publicly repudiate the column after repeatedly asking Reilly to run a retraction?

      • asimonetti88 - May 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Wow, that’s a great article that I’d never read before. Thanks for sharing.

    • doctorofsmuganomics - May 29, 2014 at 12:23 PM

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Guys, guys! You all have it wrong. This wasn’t an open letter to Jeter and his kids. It’s the pilot script to a new tv show Riley is hoping to star in, “How I met your father.”

  13. zzalapski - May 29, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    He premises this whole thing on his status as a reporter yet reports nothing.

    That’s Reilly in a nutshell.

  14. trbmb - May 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I pretty much dismiss everything written by everybody. Including anything I write. We are all stupid.

  15. steelerfanforlife - May 29, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    You must be new here. Media criticism has been an integral part of HBT since the day we launched five years ago and has been something I’ve been doing since I began blogging seven years ago.

    I’d say it’s the only thing YOU do Craig!! The rest of the writers at HBT actually, you know, write their own stories!

    • nbjays - May 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

      The only one at HBT that actually could be described as “writing his own stories” is Joe Posnanski. The rest report on happenings in and around baseball.

    • zzalapski - May 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Football fans criticizing a baseball blog’s content is funny on multiple levels.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 29, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      I’d say it’s the only thing YOU do Craig!!

      Guessing you don’t read the first article monday through friday, called And That Happened, do you? And again, if Craig’s writing isn’t your cup of tea, go…somewhere…else…

  16. 18thstreet - May 29, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    “Your father was everything men wanted to be.”

    Like Jeter himself, I’m approaching 40. Unlike Derek Jeter, I presently have two awesome kids, five and seven years old. It’s not to say that I’m not jealous of vast aspects of Derek Jeter’s life, but I will say that being a father is wonderful; Derek Jeter is not *everything* I want to be. I like being a dad.

  17. schmedley69 - May 29, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    ESPN has become a complete joke. I avoid it (tv, radio, website) at all costs.

    • trbmb - May 29, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      I agree and do the same. As a substitute, to keep myself fully updated and educated on major league baseball, I tune in daily to Chris Russo and High Heat. I listen to everything and then immediately forget what I heard. Then I go listen to Mike Francesa and repeat execution.

  18. eagles512 - May 29, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    What an embarrassing piece of journalism. Glad you ripped him apart.

  19. sportsdrenched - May 29, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Wow. I’m hoping Jeter’s legal team is drafting a restraining order to be used whenever it’s needed. On second thought. They should just file it anyway.

  20. philipharmonic - May 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    He describes Jeeter as “George Clooney in pinstripes.” Given that Clooney is now 55 years old, the kid will only know Clooney as an old man, not the Geroge Clooney as we knew him in his heyday or even now. That’s like describing Mickey Mantle as the “Cesear Romero in Pinstripes.”

  21. musketmaniac - May 29, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    That honey boo boo shyt scares me. but I’d have to agree. wow, wtf couldn’t this guy friends get him laid.

  22. Jason @ IIATMS - May 29, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    I’m glad I am (quasi-)contractually obligated NOT to discuss or disparage the product produced and published by the Big 4 Letter WWL. Hooray for that.

    As a Yanks fan, I am choking on my own bile.

    We all love us some Jeter, but I think we all agree that we know BUPKUS about him, on a personal level, because he’s made a career of talking to the media while simultaneously saying nothing.

    • unclemosesgreen - May 29, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
      I wanna bite that hand so bad
      I wanna make them wish they’d never even seen me

  23. mrbiz8505 - May 29, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    “Don’t forget to mention my twitter feed….”

  24. texaspistoleer - May 29, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    The sad part is that Reilly used to write great stories. Now it’s embarrassing drivel like this.

  25. jrbdmb - May 30, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    It’s telling that the Rick Reilly columns are one of the very few things on the ESPN website where comments are not allowed. Even Skip Bayless allows readers to rip him if he deserves it, but i guess Reilly is beyond criticism (or hope).

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