The presidential candidate and the former Yankees star may seem like an unlikely MLB ownership team, but theirs is a very American story
If the Miami Marlins were a politician, they would be Jeb Bush. Both were expected to be a powerhouse from their inception, but after some early success – the Florida Marlins two World Series titles and Jeb twice being elected to run Florida – they failed to generate much of a following and eventually became a punchline. Both call Florida home, both are synonymous with losing and few seem to care that either exists. And what was the exclamation point thrown into Jeb! 2016’s logo but the desperate campaign equivalent of the home run sculpture at Marlins Park. If there wasn’t already a “Marlins Man,” Jeb! would rightfully be given the title. Please clap.
So it seems a perfect fit that Bush led the ownership group that has reportedly reached an agreement to purchase the Marlins from current owner Jeffrey Loria for .3 billion. The deal must still be approved by Major League Baseball and there are plenty of details to be ironed out, but if everything proceeds as expected, Jeb Bush will be the Marlins new majority owner – and he will be joined in the ownership group by Yankees legend Derek Jeter. Yes, Jeb and Jeets. Jeets and Jeb. Together. The oddest couple in sports since Cleveland got a championship trophy.
Outside of the fact that Bush and Jeter both live in Florida, are wealthy and have long-time ties to baseball – Jeb’s father played baseball at Yale and his older brother was an owner of the Texas Rangers before he became president – the pair seems to have very little in common. Jeter is one of the most successful players in the history of a baseball dynasty; Jeb is the presidential failure from one of America’s political dynasties. Jeter was considered baseball’s coolest player during his career; Jeb is considered to be a sweater vest in human form. Jeter was linked to dozens of models and actresses for two decades; Jeb’s favorite woman has always been his mother. Jeter reportedly presented his one-night stands with post-coital gift bags; Jeb’s campaign store gave you a guacamole bowl in exchange for . Jeter was breathlessly lauded by the New York media every time he moved the runner over on a ground ball out; Jeb’s one viral campaign moment was begging a crowd to “please clap.”
Even politically Jeb and Jeets aren’t likely all that similar beyond the fact that they both don’t care much for Donald Trump or his properties.
Jeb’s brother was replaced in office by Barack Obama and Jeb spent his campaign run speaking out against Obama-era policies, whereas the Yankees shortstop was quite chummy with the 44th President on and off the golf course. Even down at the policy level, there’s the fact that Bush cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood while governor of Florida and said during his presidential campaign that the organization is “not doing women’s health issues.” Jeter, based on those many relationships throughout his career, has to be a fairly staunch supporter of access to birth control, wouldn’t you agree?
Speaking of bedding, there is the well-known saying that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” That surely is true. Bush himself, mocked by the current president for his low energy, was backed by Hollywood action producer Jerry Bruckheimer during the campaign. But while political alliances can bridge divides, opportunities to make money can do the job even more efficiently. Loria purchased the Marlins for 8.5m in 2002 and is set to sell them now for .3bn. That’s more than an 800% return on investment in just 15 years. Who wouldn’t hang out with Jeb Bush from time to time for the chance of getting that kind of payout? For that much money, some people might even be willing to look at Ted Cruz for seconds at a time.
Jeter won his last World Series in 2009 playing everyday alongside Johnny Damon, a former rival on the Boston Red Sox. If he can do that for a ring, he can surely handle some Jeb for the rare opportunity to own a sports team. Other sports legends, from Ted Williams to Wayne Gretzky, have tried and failed at coaching and Jeter says he has no interest in following in their footsteps. But ownership lets him into an exclusive club that includes Mario Lemieux, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Gretzky. Ownership allows him to go from rich to wealthy.
And thinking that Jeter and Jeb are so different may just be evidence that we’ve all been successfully programmed by the Jeter brand. While Jeter was great on the diamond, what has he ever said or done off the field that was even interesting, let alone exciting? Removed from the mouth of Jeets, much of Jeter’s words sound very Jeb! He followed the Jordan model of athlete-as-brand and made it his own. Despite living in the New York media spotlight and playing for his sport’s marquee franchise for 20 years, 162 games and interviews a year, we somehow never knew much about him beyond the fact that he played baseball, was a leader, wore No2 and enjoyed products made by Gatorade and Nike. There’s not a politician alive who wouldn’t RE2PECT that kind of disciplined messaging. His entire career was designed for him to be able to accept the kind of opportunity he has now, to easily jump in a deal with a politician from the right or the left, and make a ton of money. Maybe Jeter has strong opinions on women’s rights or immigration or Canadian lumber. Who knows. But he’d never put his brand on the line to let anyone know. Most people wouldn’t for the chance to make a few hundred million.
Jeb and Jeter probably aren’t that much of an odd couple at all. They are just two rich guys agreeing to become even richer together. It is the modern American story. Please clap.
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