You like Derek Jeter, and you'll be sad when he's gone.
There are three ways to react to that statement.
1. Say, "Yes, this is true" and go about your business.
2. Wonder what kind of troll job this is and refuse to read the rest of it. Because you most certainly do not like Derek Jeter.
3. Spit on the computer screen. Literally spit on the screen and worry about the cleanup later. (Red Sox fans only.)
Which is fine. Except you like Derek Jeter.
You don't like the Yankees, and that's understandable. There isn't a German word for what they've put you through over the last couple decades, but there should be. They're successful, arrogant, and a perennial reminder that nothing is fair. Do you realize that Francisco Cervelli, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, and Kevin Youkilis are all having great seasons right now? Of course they are. This is how the Yankees will win the division, and it will make you want to flay a fluffy little duckling.
But you like Derek Jeter because he's the Platonic ideal of what you hope from every rookie your team develops. Right now, there's a prospect in your team's minor-league system that you're overrating. It's okay. We all do it. And if you could rub a magic lamp and get a bunch of wishes that you could apply to the prospect, here's what he would become: a Hall of Famer with multiple championships who never jumps to another team, and who doesn't slow down until he's close to 40.
It's hard to separate the concept from the team, I know. But there are other examples to check out. Cal Ripken is universally beloved, even if he had a quiet reputation for being a bit cantankerous. Chipper Jones is kind of a putz, but he still gets the universal-respect token from everyone but Mets fans. Those guys fit the mold, but they had only one championship each. If you want someone who fits the exact criteria, you'd have to go back to Stan Musial, Brooks Robinson, or Roberto Clemente. So very, very few players come up with a team, win a handful of championships, and stick around for 20 years. Jeter's part of a select club. You want every young player on your team to do the exact same thing.
Your problem is that Jeter did it with the Yankees. And I get that. The Astros, Indians, Expos, Orioles, and Reds all ruined it for the rest of us when they passed on Jeter in the '92 draft. Goodness, what those late-'90s Indians teams would have looked like with Jeter. Also, the Expos would still be in Canada, playing baseball in the brand-new Jeterdome. So much would have been different. And you could have respected Jeter in the same way that you respected Craig Biggio or Barry Larkin.
Instead, the initial reaction whenever you read a column like this is to do a pantomime wanking motion. You've earned that. There isn't a non-Yankee fan alive who hasn't been annoyed or scarred by the Yankees while Jeter was on the team. Just know that you secretly like Jeter because he's proof that something like him could happen to your team.
I'm not even going to get into the psychoanalysis of you wanting to be Derek Jeter because that's just weird. No one really wants to be a beloved playboy millionaire -- that kind of life can break you. It's why playboy millionaires wear costumes and battle super-villains or Pierzynskis. Seems great on the surface, but you don't want to touch that world.
But that brings up another point: Jeter, by all rights, should be a complete jerkface. He should be weird and oblivious, like Alex Rodriguez, or he should be alternately charming and malevolent, like Barry Bonds. There should be a dark side, something that we can all point to and say, "See? See? That's why we don't like Jeter!" Except he says the right things. He avoids doing the wrong things. He isn't knee-deep in scandals every other year.
He's a hard-working, smart, future Hall of Famer who symbolizes a franchise. There's a 29-out-of-30 chance you'll like the player described by that sentence. But when he's on the Yankees, you'll have to fight your natural urges. Dig deep, though. You know it's true. You like Derek Jeter, and when the news came out that Jeter had a setback in his recovery from ankle surgery, it briefly set off the one-sentence paragraphs of your heart. Then you shook it off and continued pretending to dislike Derek Jeter.
Except you like Derek Jeter. I'm sorry to have to be the one to break it to you. You like Derek Jeter.
Mostly, though, I just want to see what's in the gift basket.