o entities must replace Derek Jeter: the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.

The Steinbrenners may have the easier job.

The Yankees will have a new shortstop in 2015. Jeter made that official Wednesday, announcing his retirement effective at the end of this season. The Yankees don't have an obvious heir in the farm system, but rest assured that Brian Cashman will identify a successor — through free agency, trade or promotion — at some point in the next 14 months.

From that standpoint, the timing isn't bad. Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, and Jed Lowrie will be free agents next winter. Their agents probably mentioned to them Wednesday that, with the Yankees entering the marketplace, this might not be the best time to sign an extension. (Yet on the very day Jeter announced his retirement, Ramirez told the Los Angeles Times that he intends to be "a Dodger for life." We'€™ll see.)

Troy Tulowitzki, the three-time All-Star who was quasi-available via trade over the winter, would make for the best narrative. (And you know how we in the sports media love narratives.) Tulowitzki wears No. 2 as a tribute to Jeter. He has the superstar ability (when healthy) and requisite swagger for the unenviable task of replacing Jeter. But he's under contract through 2020, and the Rockies need him to replace their own retired standard-bearer, Todd Helton.

So, it may not be Tulo. But it will be someone. Joe Girardi will not mourn Jeter's retirement by fielding an eight-man team in 2015. He can't. There are rules about that.

The tougher question: Who will succeed Jeter in his other job — as The Face of Baseball?

Even the most obsessive Red Sox fans who jeered Jeeeee-taaaaah with irrational hatred during the tormented years before 2004 would have to agree: Jeter has been baseball's most consistent winner and greatest ambassador for the past two decades. Such rarefied status within the sport will be remembered more enduringly than the final number of hits marked on his Cooperstown plaque.

In the wake of Jeter's announcement, the debate raged on Twitter and through radio airwaves: What was the all-time best Jeter play? The cutoff flip in Oakland? The "Mr. November" home run off Byung-Hyun Kim? The headfirst dive into the box seats during an epic 2004 win over the Red Sox? The storybook 3,000th hit into the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium? Or, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times contends, the first-pitch home run in Game 4 of the 2000 World Series at Shea Stadium?

The mere existence of that discussion validates Jeter's mystique. For how many other active players would we be able to have a similar conversation? Are there any? The preceding paragraph included only the barest details of those moments, yet I'm willing to wager the basic descriptions were sufficient to conjure vivid memories — even among non-Yankees fans.