Are you paying more attention to the Cubs and Cardinals?
DJ: “Not being with one organization now allows me to be more of a fan of the sport, if that makes sense. I’ve always been a fan of the sport, but now I can be more of a fan and pay more attention to players around the league as opposed to just one organization. So yeah, I’ve watched the Cubs and I’ve watched the Cardinals. There are a couple of guys there, whether it’s Chicago or St. Louis, that I actually played against. But then you also want to give your perspective from the individual game that you watch, so I think that’s the interesting part of it.”
What are your thoughts on the game going global like this?
DJ: “I think it’s great. I really do think it’s great. I had a chance to do it, when we played in Japan in 2004. So look I think it’s just another stage for the game. You talk about globalizing the sport, baseball truly is an international sport. Bringing the game elsewhere, I think it just makes more marquee events. You see it in other sports as well. I’m excited about it in terms of growing the game. It’s just one of those things I wish I had a chance to do more when I was playing.”
I know you touched on this during his captaincy announcement in December, but now seeing how things have played out so well in New York, did you think it was the right time and the right person when the Yankees decided on naming Aaron Judge the captain to follow you?
DJ: “I was asked that question prior to them naming him captain when I was up in New York. I think it was for the Hall of Fame ceremony. And they were asking my opinion on Judge being named the next captain. And I said, ‘Look, it has nothing to do with me.’ If you want to find out whether someone should be named captain, I think you just ask your teammates and coaches, and the manager, and the people that are around him every day. And they always gave him high praise, not only for his performance on the field but his presence in the clubhouse and the responsibility that he takes on. So I’m not surprised that they named him captain, I think it’s well deserved for him. And even now, you just talk to his teammates and no one has anything bad to say about him. They just constantly praise him, which is a good thing.”
What are your thoughts on the state of the Yankees right now?
DJ: “They’re almost at the [All-Star] break, so there are a lot of games left. I remember last year, I was at the premiere of the documentary in New York and this is when the Yankees had gotten off to the huge start that they had and they started comparing last year’s team to the ‘98 team. And I said, there’s a long way to go then, too. You never know what’s going to happen over the course of a season. They’re just fine from a timing perspective, but I think it’s something they should take day to day. I don’t think anyone in the Yankee organization is just gonna sit there and say, ‘Hey we just gotta get into the playoffs.’ I just think that’s the wrong mentality to have.”
There’s a lot of pressure to get back into the World Series, but to you, does 14 years seem like a long time without a title for the Yankees?
DJ: “Yeah, I think it is. Our group made it look like it was easy to win. It’s not easy to win. A lot of things have to go your way in order to win. When we won in ‘96, it had been 18 years since they won. And then in 2000, it took us nine more years to win again. It’s difficult to do. I know Yankee fans are on edge and they’re getting a little impatient, but that’s what makes it great playing in New York.”
Are you still interested in becoming a team owner again one day, or have you put that chapter behind you?
DJ: “At this point, it’s something that is not on my mind at all. I had my experience and that’s over with. Right now, I’m focused and looking forward to my role at FOX and a few other things that I have going on. Plus I got four kids under six, so that’s something that’s on my mind.”
Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets for three-and-a-half seasons as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Deesha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. She never misses a Rafael Nadal match, no matter what country or time zone he’s playing in. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.