"I think from that moment on it was never quite the same ever again," admits Rodriguez.
Both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez opened up on the wedge that came between them in the early 2000s, before A-Rod joined the New York Yankees.
The two were close in the '90s and even crashed at each other's apartments while Jeter was coming up on the Yankees and A-Rod was playing for the Seattle Mariners. But that friendship started to cool after Rodriguez started making some comments in the press that rubbed Jeter the wrong way.
The two each share their sides of the story regarding their falling out in Jeter's new seven-part ESPN docuseries "The Captain," which first addresses comments Alex made about Derek in a 2001 profile with Esquire. In the piece, Rodriguez said that Jeter had been "blessed with true talent around him" and has "never had to lead." He added, "You never say, 'Don't let Derek beat you.' That's never your concern."
"Those comments bothered me because, like I said, I'm very, very loyal. As a friend, I'm loyal. And I just looked at it as, I wouldn't have done it," Jeter says in the doc. "And then it was the media, the constant hammer to the nail, you know what I mean? They just kept hammering it in. It just became noise, which frustrated me. It was just constant noise."
A-Rod, for his part, said that he "felt really bad about it" when the interview came out and he "saw the way it was playing out" in public.
"The way that it was written, I absolutely said exactly what I said. Again, I think it was a comment that I stand behind today. It was a complete tsunami -- [the Yankees were] one of the greatest teams ever -- and to say that you don't have to focus about just one player I think is totally fair," said Rodriguez, explaining what he meant at the time.
"The same could be said about my team with the Seattle Mariners. If somebody said that about me, I would be like, 'No s---, absolutely, you better not worry about just me,'" he continued. "So immediately I called Derek and said, 'I'd love to come up and see you, come talk to you.' We sat on his couch, spoke for an hour or so, I apologized and said, 'Look, I feel you guys have a tsunami, it's a great team, that wasn't said to hurt you or penalize you or slight you in any way.'"
Jeter said he "believed" A-Rod's apology, saying he thought he was "very sincere."
The Esquire reporter who wrote the profile also appeared in the doc and said he even sent Jeter a fax apologizing for highlighting some of A-Rod's shadier quotes -- and adding that Rodriguez also said a lot of positive comments about Derek as well. When asked about the fax, Jeter laughed.
"I never saw a fax. He sent it to my personal fax machine I have in my locker?" he joked. "I don't remember getting a fax. At that point, what is a fax gonna do?"
"Now, I think if it was a stand-alone incident, hey, you move on man, people make mistakes. But there's a second time it happened," added Jeter, who also pointed to comments A-Rod made about him on the Dan Patrick Show the year prior. In 2000, Rodriguez said Jeter wouldn't be the one to break his record for the largest contract in sports history after signing a 10-year, $252 million deal -- because "he just doesn't do the power numbers and defensively he doesn't do all those things."
"The Dan Patrick interview, he was talking about a comparison between me and him on the field. In my mind, he got his contract, so you're trying to diminish what I'm doing maybe to justify why you got paid?" said Jeter in the doc. "Because I think, look, when you talk about statistics, my statistics never compared to Alex's statistics. I'm not blind. I understand. But we won. You can say whatever you want about me as a player, that's fine, but then it goes back to the trust and the loyalty. This is how the guy feels, he's not a true friend, is how I felt. Because I wouldn't do it to a friend."
Speaking generally about their relationship and how it changed over time, Rodriguez said he believed he was in Jeter's "circle of trust" early on. "I mean, you have to be if I’m sleeping at his apartment and he's sleeping at mine," he added.
"I think that changed in where I said some things that he didn't like, and that, for him, broke the trust. And I think from that moment on it was never quite the same ever again," he admitted. "I think it's [me] really not understanding the way things work. In many ways, my father leaving when I was 10, not getting that schooling at home, the tough love, it resulted in insecurity, some self esteem issues and as I got older I realized, all you gotta be is be yourself."
"To allow that opening, that gap, that space to come between Derek and I, that's on me," he concluded. "That's not on the writer, the writer's got a job to do. You give him an opening and he can drive a wedge between two young stars, then he's gonna do that."
Jeter said the two were "young" and acknowledged that "people make mistakes."
"I get it. They make mistakes. Some mistakes bigger than others. What I expect of you, you should expect the same of me. I wouldn't treat you that way," he added. "And, once again, that's fine. I'm still gonna be cordial. But you crossed the line, and I won't let you in again."
A-Rod joined Jeter on the Yankees in February 2004, with Rodriguez switching positions and agreeing to play third base since Derek was already the team's shortstop. They won the World Series together in 2009 -- and, in 2018, Rodriguez told Cigar Aficionado that the two were "friends," but had their ups and downs over the years.
"The Captain" debuts July 18 on ESPN and ESPN+, with new episodes dropping July 21, July 28, August 4 and August 11.