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Derek Jeter: The Face of a Generation

He wasn’t meant to be “the guy.”

He wasn’t supposed to be the player that has been at the forefront of Major League Baseball for the past 20 years. Or the player that has others wanting to wear his number out of respect and adoration.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is just one of many wearing No. 2 in honor of Derek Jeter (AP photo)

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is just one of many wearing No. 2 in honor of Derek Jeter (AP photo)

He wasn’t the most talented player of his generation, but somehow became the greatest.

It was supposed to be players with the name Bonds or Griffey on the back of their jerseys, but through PED allegations, injuries plaguing some of their careers and inconsistencies littered throughout their résumé, they could not be the staple of America’s Pastime.

Derek Jeter could.

Intangibles are something that get lost, somewhere in between a player’s batting average and fielding percentage.

Today the game can be so micromanaged in a calculator that we often forget that sometimes the best moments and the best players don’t come out of a statistical formula.

Derek Jeter embodies that.

He was never truly great at one thing on the diamond, rather just really good at everything.

That intangible for getting himself in the moment to make the play – whether it be The Flip, The Dive or The Walk-Off we saw the other night – is what makes Jeter so rare in a game filled with so much failure.

Jeter, who is playing the final games of his career this weekend at Fenway Park, thrived in those moments.

No player has ever had as many hits in the postseason as Jeter and his five World Series rings are the most out of all active players in MLB. The guy just wins.

Being born in Boston is special. You get to root for the greatest teams in professional sports and it means more, here, in this city.

We understand how rare greatness is and how much we can overlook it until we are in its final moments.

We saw it in Yaz, Bird, Orr and Brady.

Now, we see it in Jeter too.

From birth, Bostonians are taught three things: First, Dunkin’ Donuts is the sweet nectar of the earth; second, the term “going to the pahk” doesn’t mean that place with the swing sets; and last, but certainly not least, is that the Yankees suck.

However, with every rule there are exceptions and in this case the shortstop in pinstripes is it.

As much as we rooted against him in all the classic matchups Jeter has had against the Red Sox, he has never truly been hated like most of those damn Yankees.

He was just that type of player. Respected.

Whether they’ll admit it or not, Boston will miss Derek Jeter for what he’s done for the game and the rivalry. But, what they’ll miss most is the .255 batting average he put up this season in New York.

Jokes aside, Derek Jeter was asked to be the face of a league and a city through times of rampant steroid use and terror attacks. He did so masterfully, taking them on a 20-year journey, filled with five championships, 3,461 hits and a lifetime of memories for baseball fans everywhere.

Thank you, Derek Jeter, for being what MLB needed and then some. #RE2PECT

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