ESPN’s ‘The Captain’: TV Review (2022)

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A thought experiment: I chant “DER-EK JE-TER!” You say?

If your answer is a Pavlovian series of five claps — “Clap Clap Clapclapclap,” if you will — then chances are good that you’re the target demographic for ESPN’s new seven-part documentary series The Captain.

The Captain

The Bottom LineBland and bloated.

(Video) The Captain: Episode 1 | Recap & Review | “No Blueprint for Success”

If your response is a dead-eyed stare, “Yankees suck!” or perhaps something even more profane, The Captain is easily skippable.

Yankees legend Derek Jeter built a career on steady play on the field and inscrutable blandness off of it, and he mostly doesn’t stray from his established brand here. It takes absolutely nothing away from Jeter’s indisputable greatness on the diamond to say that he’s a borderline inert interview or at least to say that over the five hours sent to critics, whatever wall he put up to survive decades in the New York City media spotlight remains in place. Maybe if you bleed pinstripes, a journey through the Yankees dynasty with a guide this less-than-forthcoming will still be gratifying. But everybody else is likely to see The Captain as the sort of Yankees-sponsored piece of hero worship that should have played on the YES Network rather than ESPN.


Note that this is an ongoing problem for the Worldwide Leader, which previously gave Tom Brady, similarly entrenched in his sport’s pantheon and similarly committed to an impenetrable public persona, a ridiculous 10 hours for The Arena. So please don’t think my general antipathy toward The Captain is rooted in my personal fandom. The Captain and The Arena are equally misguided when it comes to duration and failure to get their guarded heroes to engage with any real candor.

Director Randy Wilkins struggles to conquer the bland straight-line to greatness that was Jeter’s career (whether his post-Yankees career, including a failed tenure operating the Marlins, will be better depicted in later episodes is unclear).

Adversity isn’t necessary for good drama, but, man, it helps. In this case, Jeter went from high-school star in Michigan to first-round draft pick to top minor league prospect to near-instant major league start to World Series champion to Hall of Famer, and the bumps in the road were either negligible or evaded.

(Video) The Captain | Begins July 18th on ESPN and ESPN+ | ESPN Films

The challenges of growing up biracial in Kalamazoo obviously weren’t small but, other than serving as a multi-decade origin story for Jeter’s cautious public persona in the NYC fishbowl, it’s treated in nebulous generalities instead of specific anecdotes. Jeter’s struggles in his first minor league season aren’t ignored, but what do you say about those struggles other than, “Yeah, he didn’t hit for a year and then … he did”? From there, Jeter mostly hit more often than he didn’t, was treated as a photogenic media God more often than he wasn’t and won championships more frequently than any other player of his generation. It’s a recipe for a plaque in Cooperstown, not for seven hours of entertainment.

Jeter comes across here, personality-wise, as Michael Jordan-lite, which is appropriate since Jordan is an occasional talking head in the documentary and because ESPN wants you to approach The Captain as a companion piece to The Last Dance. This is a bad comparison — both because Jordan’s supercilious ego is a more clearly delineated disposition than whatever Jeter is affecting at any moment, and because Jordan’s professional arc was marked by more narratively friendly obstacles, like his gambling addiction, his baseball career, the Pistons, and so on.

The Last Dance director Jason Hehir also smartly realized that while Jordan is prone to clamming up at inopportune moments, if you treat the supporting pieces of a sports dynasty as comparably important, they can pick up story slack as required. While The Last Dance is Michael Jordan’s biography first and foremost, it’s simultaneously the story of the 1997-98 Bulls, including Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson.

(Video) Derek Jeter's perception in the media & measuring MLB success | The Captain Recap

The Captain is not the story of the Yankees dynasty. It’s the story of Derek Jeter and his centrality to the Yankees dynasty. The series doesn’t lack other voices from those teams, ranging from longtime manager Joe Torre and executive Brian Cashman to fellow standouts like Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettite and more, but they’re treated as accessories, with no personalities or backstories. It’s fun to play the “Who’s missing and how much must that mean Derek Jeter hated them?” game, and nearly as fun to play the “Which talking heads is Derek Jeter extra-vague about?” game. The answer to that second question is Cashman and longtime frenemy Alex Rodriguez, whose diplomacy in discussing Jeter is matched only by Jeter’s obliqueness in discussing Rodriguez and Cashman.

A-Rod is here a lot, because Wilkins isn’t bad at acknowledging the things you want a Derek Jeter documentary to acknowledge, which isn’t the same as digging deeply into those things. If Jeter doesn’t want to play ball, so to speak, and Jeter is the sole focus of your story, there isn’t much you can do when he gives answers so carefully worded that they become irrelevant, which he definitely does when it comes to A-Rod. Listen to Jeter’s answers on subjects like his limitations on defense or when referring to certain former teammates. Note how the documentary mentions the names of exactly zero of Jeter’s tabloid-friendly former flames (and none appear). When the documentary brings up the notorious tale of the swag bags Jeter gave out to one-night stands, he makes fun of the specific New York Post story and says it wasn’t true, but that isn’t the same as denying the details in the story. His response is calculated and cold, perhaps suggesting that the Jeter persona was a brilliant feint rather than naturally vanilla.

After four episodes of strict chronology and upward mobility, the fifth episode is the only one to really push on the things that make Jeter uncomfortable, and that’s entertaining no matter how little he adds. The episode brings up, in more depth than any time previously, the role Jeter’s race played in his presented identity and whether he could or should have been more vocal on social justice issues. He’s nearly silent, using the time to plug his charitable foundation, but when Wilkins shows him an interview in which an older white reporter makes the truly ill-considered decision to call Jeter “colorless,” Jeter pounces aggressively and re-directs the conversation entirely onto the tactless scribe and not the point said reporter was making badly. He’s able to make the story reflect on the out-of-touch media instead of him, and honestly I was more impressed by the acrobatics of that tactic than the earlier episodes that are mostly variations on, “Hey, remember that time Derek Jeter flipped the ball?” or “Hey, remember that time Derek Jeter ran into the stands?”

(Video) ‘The Captain’ Excerpt | ESPN & ESPN+

Despite Spike Lee’s name as executive producer, The Captain is resolutely style-less. Maybe you could argue that the lack of visual flash or flexibility with structure was meant to honor its workmanlike subject. But was that really ever the true Jeter? For years, he was calm (but not without fire), subdued (but not without on-field flash) and conservative (but not without that roster of A-list romantic companions). Those are attributes that kept New York City from ever turning on him, and guaranteed that even if rival fans enjoyed booing him, there were always easier Yankees to hate. It was a smart and lucrative strategy for a baseball player, but a boring blueprint for a documentary series that’s never badly made, but rarely revealing.


Who said Derek Jeter is colorless? ›

In episode five, New York sportswriter Wallace Matthews, who is white, called Jeter "racially neutral" and "almost colorless, not only physically but in the way he spoke." The comment was a big topic on social media.

What is Derek Jeters Net Worth? ›

What is Derek Jeter's net worth in 2022? According to Celebrity Net Worth, Derek Jeter has a net worth today of $200 million. This is cumulative earnings from his salary for playing for the Yankees, plus his business ventures, endorsements, appearances, and more.

How many episodes are out of The Captain? ›

The final episode of The Captain, a seven-part series about Derek Jeter helmed by Emmy-winning director Randy Wilkins and executive produced by Spike Lee and Mike Tollin, debuts on Thursday (Aug. 11).

What is The Captain Derek Jeter documentary? ›

Directed by Randy Wilkins, the series focuses on the life and career of Derek Jeter, who served as captain of the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball. Debuting on ESPN and ESPN+ on July 18, the series has seven episodes, and ran until August 11. Spike Lee and Michael Tollin are executive producers on the series.

How many errors did a rod have? ›

Alex Rodriguez's Errors Overview

During Alex Rodriguez's 22-year Major League Baseball career, he had 235 errors, an average of 10.6818 errors per season. 2016 was his best season with 0 errors and his worst season was 1997 when he had 24 errors.

Was the old Yankee Stadium torn down? ›

The original Yankee Stadium was demolished in 2010, two years after it closed, and the 8-acre (3.2 ha) site was converted into a public park called Heritage Field.
Yankee Stadium (1923)
ReopenedApril 15, 1976
DemolishedMarch 2009 – May 13, 2010
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How much is a MLB pension? ›

The full pension consists of 40 quarters that each have a pension value attached to them. Therefore, a player can earn a partial pension by earning less than 40 quarters in their career. Partial pensions are earned for each quarter (43 Days) of service time, which in 2021 was valued at $5,750 per quarter.

Who is richer Arod or Jeter? ›

1. Alex Rodriguez. Alex Rodriguez is currently the wealthiest baseball player, with a net worth of $350 million.

Who has more money Jeter or Arod? ›

Verdict: Considering all the sources of income for Jeter and Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez is wealthier than Derek Jeter. Jeter does not have more money than the current shareholder of the Minnesota Timberwolves, with a net worth of $ 350 million compared to $ 200 for the ex-CEO of the Miami Marlins.

Will The Captain be on Netflix? ›

WILL DEREK JETER'S THE CAPTAIN BE ON NETFLIX? Nope. For the foreseeable future, the documentary will only be available to watch on ESPN and ESPN+.

How many shows is The Captain? ›

The Captain tells the story of Derek Jeter's life and Hall of Fame career in a seven-part docu-series that's anchored by exclusive, extensive, unprecedentedly candid interviews with Jeter, along with his family and dozens of teammates, rivals, and observers.

How do I watch Derek Jeter documentary? ›

In order to watch “The Captain,” you'll have to sign up for ESPN+. A subscription costs $6.99/month or $69.99/year. You can also sign up for the Disney Bundle, which includes Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99/month.

How many parts is the Derek Jeter documentary? ›

The seven-part docs-series, directed by three-time Emmy winner — and Bronx native — Randy Wilkins, will dig into the true details about what went down during Jeter's 20-year tenure with the Bronx Bombers.

How many episodes is The Captain with Derek Jeter? ›

The Yankee legend's documentary, “The Captain.” will be airing for seven episodes on ESPN starting Monday night. You can also watch it here on ESPN+.

Where can I watch episode 1 of The Captain? ›

Watch The Captain Streaming Online | Hulu.

Who has the most home runs in history? ›

Barry Bonds holds the Major League Baseball home run record with 762. He passed Hank Aaron, who hit 755, on August 7, 2007. The only other players to have hit 700 or more are Babe Ruth with 714 and Albert Pujols with 701.

Why did A-Rod retire? ›

Toward the end of his career, he was hampered by hip and knee injuries, which caused him to become exclusively a designated hitter. He played his final game in professional baseball on August 12, 2016.

Who has the most hits in MLB history? ›

This statistic shows the MLB all-time hits leaders as of July 2022. Pete Rose has the most hits in Major League Baseball history with 4,256 hits.

Will Fenway Park ever be replaced? ›

Red Sox ownership told The Athletic that with all of the upgrades already made at Fenway over the last 20 years, the park will remain viable for future generations to enjoy.

How much do MLB players get for meal money? ›

MLB Player Stipends

It's almost unbelievable, but just six years ago, the 2016 collective bargaining agreement actually lowered the amount players would receive for meals to a mere $30 per day.

At what age do MLB Players collect pension? ›

Regular payment begins under the plan at age 62, but payments can be received as early as age 45 at a reduced level to account for the longer period that benefits will be received.

How much do MLB umpires make? ›

Professional baseball umpires don't make quite as much as the MLB player minimum salary, but they're still well off financially. According to Career Trend, the starting rookie umpire salary is $150,000 and the more experienced umpires and senior umpires (like Joe West) rake in as much as $450,000 per year.

What was Mickey Mantle's highest salary? ›

DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, and Ted Williams, who had just retired, had been paid over $100,000 in a season, and Ruth had a peak salary of $80,000. Mantle became the highest-paid active player of his time. Mantle's top salary was $100,000, which he reached for the 1963 season.

Is JLO worth more than A-Rod? ›

According to, their combined net worth was set to approach $1 billion, considering Lopez's current net worth is about $400 million. J-Lo's net worth total is actually slightly higher than Rodriguez's estimated net worth.

Do the Yankees allow long hair? ›

No mutton chops. No long hair. No long stirrups." The policy has since been amended to read, "All players, coaches, and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar.

Why don t the Yankees have names on their uniforms? ›

It's a Tradition To Exclude Names on Jerseys

A big reason for not including names on jerseys is that it's a tradition! Some teams have never included their names on their uniforms (like the New York Yankees), so they still don't today.

Is there a free trial for ESPN+? ›

Unlike many live TV streaming services, like Hulu + Live TV, there is no ESPN+ free trial. But, with a monthly rate of $10 and the ability to cancel your subscription at any time, you can check out the service for a month at a relatively low rate.

How do you get ESPN+? ›

You can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) through the ESPN App, (on mobile and connected devices), or ESPN+. It is also available as part of a bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu (ad-supported), and ESPN+ — all for just $12.99/month.

Who is Derek Jeter's wife? ›

She is the niece of sportscaster Glenn Davis. In early November 2015, former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter confirmed earlier reports that he and Hannah were engaged. The two married on July 9, 2016, in Napa Valley. They have three daughters, born in August 2017, January 2019, and December 2021.

When did The Captain come out? ›

What time does The Captain come on? ›

The Captain (10 p.m., ESPN)

What channel is ESPN Plus? ›

ESPN Plus is not a TV channel, so you will have to access it through the ESPN app. If you have a smart TV that is hooked up to wifi or connected to the internet with an ethernet cable, you should have no problem downloading the ESPN app.

Where can I watch Episode 2 of The Captain? ›

The Captain: Episode 2 - Loyalty One Way Presented by Capital One | Watch ESPN.

How can I watch Derek Jeter The Captain of Canada? ›

As was the case with "The Last Dance", "The Captain" will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN. Cord-cutters can also follow along with all the action from the docu-series on ESPN+ or fuboTV, which offers a free trial. Canadian viewers can watch the documentary series on TSN, where it will air live for every episode.


1. The Captain Episode 4 Review
(Char's Media Pod)
2. Director Randy Wilkins on Jeter-ARod relationship, Yankees' impact on 9/11 | The Captain Recap
3. The Captain Review: Derek Jeter ESPN Docuseries Unpacks Yankees Legacy
(Sport Online)
4. The Captain: Episode 2 | Recap & Review | "Loyalty One Way"
(NYY Recaps)
5. ‘The Captain’ Episode 2 Excerpt | ESPN & ESPN+
(ESPN Marketing)
6. ESPN’s ‘The Captain’ Tries to Unpack Derek Jeter the Iconic Yankee Who
(Current News)

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