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Top Secret Fyles: Appreciate Jeter’s final season; it will pass quickly

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From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

While growing up in western New York and becoming quickly interested in professional sports at an early age, the conversation always seemed to swirl around how three athletes were performing at three high-profile positions.

At that time, they were: Los Angeles Lakers center (Wilt Chamberlain), Dallas Cowboys quarterback (Don Meredith and later Roger Staubach) and New York Yankees star player (a gimpy Mickey Mantle in his final season).

Though times change, and Pau Gasol and Tony Romo can still be worthy of a sometimes debate but are hardly legendary, there’s no question Derek Jeter still has that star power — that aura — in his 20th and final season with the Yankees.

For most fans, it has been either love or hate for Jeter, but as time has pushed forward, an appreciation developed.

Jeter, who has captivated Yankees fans with his hustle and clutch play, always played the game with 100 percent integrity.

No nonsense, no drama and, most importantly, no trouble with the law. The headlines were for the right cause.

The soon-to-be, 40-year-old, who announced in February that 2014 would be his final season, was always the target of boos by opposing teams’ fans, especially at Boston’s Fenway Park. That’s booing out of respect.

As his games begin to grow short, just take in the moment on how he plays the game.

It’s not about the future Hall of Famer who has a chance to finish sixth on the all-time hits list, it’s about the Yankees and their quest to win a title.

That’s the way Jeter always wants to be remembered.

n Baseball America revealed its latest annual list of the best farm systems of the 30 major league organizations, according to overall talent of offseason prospects’ rankings.

The top five are: 1. Pirates (being bad for many years can eventually pay off); 2. Red Sox; 3. Twins; 4. Cubs; 5. Astros.

The bottom five include: 30. Angels (signing soon-to-be 42-year-old DH Raul Ibanez may be the latest example of a depleted farm system); 29. Brewers; 28. Tigers; 27. Marlins; 26. Braves.

Other organizations and their rankings of note: 7. Cardinals; 10. Mets; 12. Orioles; 13. Yankees; 14. Dodgers; 15. Blue Jays; 19. Giants; 24. Nationals.

n The rebuilding Buffalo Sabres have used a staggering 44 players who have participated in at least one game this season. NHL teams can have 18 skaters and two goalies suit up for a game.

The number could have been 45, but goalie Jaroslav Halak, acquired from the Blues in the Ryan Miller trade on Feb. 28, dressed as a backup shortly thereafter, never played and was moved to the Capitals a few days later.

Halak became the 10th roster member in Sabres’ history to dress for the team in a regular-season game but not play.

Injuries have been the latest issue with three more players hurt Sunday at Philadelphia.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at

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