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Rounding Third: Jeter going out on his terms

By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - How many times have we heard that New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter just does things the "right way"?

Well, get ready to hear it again because on Wednesday Jeter posted a thank you letter to his fans through Facebook that the 2014 season will be his last.

"I could not be more sure," Jeter said. "I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball."

It should come as no surprise that this would be his last season. He's a free agent at the end of the year and, let's face it, he's not exactly walking away in his prime.

Jeter will be 40 on June 26 and is coming off a year that saw him play just 17 games because of a serious ankle injury. There's not a whole lot left in the tank.

"Last year was a tough one for me," Jeter wrote. "As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.

"So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100 (percent) sure."

Every player wants to go out on their own terms. And Jeter, like Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, now gets to do that. You think Rivera's Farewell Tour was over the top? Wait until you see Jeter's.

Jeter's good friend and fellow Core Four member Jorge Posada really wasn't afforded that luxury. He endured a miserable final season with the Yankees then received little attention from them the following winter, essentially forcing him to retire.

Maybe that weighed on Jeter's mind. Maybe he wanted to take the Yankees off the hook.

But more likely, he's leaving because it is just time. Jeter always had a little Joe DiMaggio in him. DiMaggio left the game because his ego couldn't allow him to be anything less than he once was.

Jeter is the exact same guy.

Neither one of them would allow themselves to be embarrassed on the field.

"For the last 20 years, I've been completely focused on two goals: playing my best and helping the Yankees win," Jeter added. "That means that for 365 days a year, my every thought and action were geared toward that goal. It's now time for something new."

Now before anyone gets this twisted, Jeter is not Joe DiMaggio. He's not even close, but that's not going to stop all the "where does he rank among the all-time Yankees" stories.

Well, let's cut that off at the pass. He's not in the top five and he's probably not even in the top 10. And when you are dealing with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, that's hardly a slight.

What Jeter is, however, is perhaps the most beloved New York athlete since the Jets' Joe Namath, and probably the most cherished Yankee since Mickey Mantle.

That's undeniable.

When you hear his name, you think of his countless clutch plays, whether it's the Jeffrey Maier home run, the flip in Oakland, the dive into the stands against Boston, or, of course, his Mr. November home run in the 2001 World Series.

And how can you talk about Derek Jeter and not mention his escapades off the field?

Not to turn this into a TMZ article, but among others, Jeter has been linked to countless supermodels and Hollywood actresses. Mariah Carey in her prime. Scarlett Johansson. Jessica Alba. Vanessa Minnillo. Jessica Biel. Minka Kelly. And most recently, SI Swimsuit model and DirectTV genie girl Hannah Davis.

As Charlie Sheen would say,"winning".

Jeter may have never won a batting title, or an MVP award, but he has personified class every step of the way. He was a true role model. And you can't say that about many players in any sport these days.

By the way, did anyone else feel really old when they heard this news?

02/12 15:36:01 ET

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