As Derek Sanderson Jeter graced his final All-Star game, what made the moment special was what it was not. Not contrived. Not manufactured. Not choreographed by a video board operator with his button on the oversized clapping hands, or by event planners with a budget fit for a royal wedding.
There will be time for all of that. The New York Yankees will make sure of it. Bless the Minnesota Twins for not intruding on the moment with a gaudy ceremony. This was an understated evening — at Target Field, if not on television — the chance for the players to say farewell to the retiring Jeter in their own way.
“That was much better,” Jeter said, “than if there was something that was scripted.”
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The Mike Trout comparisons are not really about ability and talent. Trout has more now, at 22, than Jeter ever had. The face of the game is the one that plays hard, keeps his head down, and acts as an ambassador for his sport without a hint of controversy. Jeter gets it. He gathered the players on the American League team before the game, to say thank you to them. Trout gets it too. “We should be thanking him,” Trout said, “for what he brings to the game.”
When the AL took the field, Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson waited behind, so Jeter could have the whole left side of the infield to himself. When Jeter led off for the AL in the bottom of the first, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright lingered on the mound so Jeter could enjoy the cheers — not just from the fans, but from the players on the top step of each dugout.
Jeter doubled, matching his total of extra-base hits this month. Not long after, Wainwright told reporters he had given Jeter “a couple of pipe shots” — that is, grooved a couple of pitches.