Murphy: Good guy Jeter leaves with class

2/15/2014

One of the good guys is retiring at a time when the bad guys make all the headlines.

One of the good guys is retiring at a time when the bad guys make all the headlines.

Derek Jeter, New York Yankee shortstop and representative of all that is good in the game, announced he will retire after this season.

At 39 and coming off injuries that limited him to a handful of games last season, he says it is time.

Jeter, in announcing his decision on Facebook, said he always told himself he would quit when baseball became more like a job and less like a game.

If that's how he feels, it sounds like the perfect time to hang up his spikes and glove.

Ironically, Jeter has spent several seasons playing next to the most hated man in baseball, Alex Rodriguez.

Mention the word steroids, and Rodriguez is the first name people think of.

He will not play this season because of a year-long suspension for continued use of steroids and obstructing baseball's investigation into his actions.

It's possible, but highly unlikely, the Yankees could start the 2015 season with Rodriguez on the field and Jeter in retirement. That would feel so wrong.

During an era when multiple players were found guilty of using steroids and performance enhancing drugs and almost everyone was suspected, Jeter rose above.

He was never suspected. It was never speculated, and he did nothing to make people think he should be linked to cheaters.

My son, Alek, does not remember a baseball season played without Jeter, and sent me a text saying how weird it will be to not see Jeter on the field.

Weird and not quite the same.

I know players come and go. Many years ago, I wondered what it would be like to follow baseball after my favorite player, Reggie Jackson, retired.

Many baseball seasons have come and gone since then, and I'm probably as big of a fan of the game as I ever have been. But I still haven't found anyone to root for like Reggie.

This season will be baseball's long farewell to Jeter, and it will be well-deserved.

I hope the baseball gods can smile on him one more time, and he goes out playing like the Derek Jeter we have come to love and respect and enjoy watching.

Every few years, baseball gives us a player who plays the game the right way and is a gentleman off the field.

Fans flocked to Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial because they were great ball players and represented themselves well off the field.

No, it won't be the same tuning into the Yankees and seeing someone else at shortstop — and heaven help the player who takes his place — but we can be thankful we had the opportunity to watch one of the game's greatest.

This year, I will soak up as much of Jeter as I can because before I know it, he will be gone.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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