It’s officially the end of an era for baseball fans everywhere. New York Yankees short stop Derek Jeter announced on Wednesday that he plans to retire after the 2014 season, which means that it’s only a matter of time before the 13-time All Star is inducted into the Hall of Fame and, more importantly, before someone in Hollywood starts shopping around a biopic based on the Yankee legend. After all, Jeter’s considered to be the greatest player of his generation, he has more than enough name recognition to grab audiences’ attention, and moviegoers generally tend to love sports movies, so clearly this idea is a home run. Or is it?
Is it possible that Jeter is too boring to be the subject of a major Hollywood biopic? All films need a conflict, and for biopics, those conflicts usually come from their subjects overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds and unbeatable obstacles in order to emerge victorious at the end. This is especially true of sports biopics, which rely on this formula to produce a film that is inspiring and uplifting. 42 was a film about Jackie Robinson overcoming institutional racism in order to become the first black player in the MLB. The Rookie had Jim Morris prove his critics wrong by starting his professional baseball career for the Tampa Bay Rays at the age of 35, an age when most players start considering retirement. Moneyball featured the manager of the Oakland As changing the way franchises put together their teams in order to turn a mediocre lineup into a winning team. Even The Sandlot featured the kids overcoming their fear of The Beast in order to rescue Smalls’ stepdad’s autographed ball.
By contrast, Jeter’s never really had to conquer any insurmountable odds. He’s overcome some terrible injuries in order to get back in the game, but none of them were career-derailing or character-defining. He may have broken plenty of records, but he hasn’t really broken down any barriers during his time on the field. He became the best through hard work, dedication and talent, and while he’s considered an inspiration to an entire generation of ball players, it’s not really a juicy enough story to structure a film around. There have been plenty of games or seasons in which the Yankees made a major comeback, but none of them are particularly memorable events. And if Jeter hasn’t overcome any major obstacles in order to become the best, where will the film get its plot?
Hollywood would even struggle to find substance for a film from Jeter’s life off of the field. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he’s managed to avoid any major scandals, and he’s steered clear of the steroid conflicts entirely. If someone were to make a film about, say, Alex Rodriguez, they would likely choose to take a more sensational route, and focus on the doping scandals that have clouded his career. However, if they wanted to take a similar approach to Jeter’s life, the best they would be able to come up with is his tabloid-friendly love life. But even though he’s dated some of the biggest starlets in Hollywood, all of those relationships seem to have ended amicably, and without becoming the focus of any gossip columns.
The last time Jeter made the press for anything even remotely approaching the debauchery we associate with sports stars was 2002, when he was chastised by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for staying out too late at a birthday party. Clearly, he’s no Jordan Belfort. These days, he mostly makes headlines over contract disputes or injury reports, neither of which would make for a particularly riveting entertainment experience — not even House of Cards could make negotiations seem particularly interesting, and their version at least included people throwing bricks through windows. There’s no doubt that Jeter is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, and he will go down in history as a Yankee legend. He’s a skilled player and a capable leader, who has managed to win over millions of fans through both his talent and charisma both on and off the field, but all of that still doesn’t make him interesting enough to be the subject of a biopic.
So, Hollywood, let’s just let Jeter settle for being one of the greats, and we can revisit the idea of re-releasing The Sandlot in theaters. That way, everyone’s a winner.