During last night’s episode of the “Dan Johnson Show,” many of us witnessed an Oscar-caliber performance from Derek Jeter. During the top of the seventh, Jeter stepped up to the plate with one out. Chad Qualls threw a sinkerball inside on Jeter and at first glimpse, it appeared as though he had hit the Captain clear on the wrist. Jeter grimaced and lurched around in pain. Gene Monahan briskly made his way to the field with an expression of angst. Lovely. The Yankees' laboring leadoff hitter would be joining the team’s ailing ranks.
By the time Jeter had lumbered down to first base, Joe Maddon rushed out on the field. His face was completely red, and he was screaming at the umpires for making such a bogus call. After he voiced his concerns for a few moments, the umpires gave him the toss. Meanwhile, YES decided to utilize the magical “instant replay technology” and everyone watching could clearly see that the ball hit the knob of Jeter’s bat. In actuality, the pitch never even grazed Jeter. Instead of obtaining an unfortunate strike while attempting to dodge out of the way of a pitch, Jeter managed to achieve what the team desperately needed -- a means to get on base while avoiding another out. Jeter embraced a very Machiavellian approach.
When asked after the game where he had been hit, Derek Jeter promptly replied, “It hit the bat. …He told me to go to first. I'm not going to tell him, 'I'm not going to go to first,' you know? My job is to get on base." Jeter continued, “It's part of the game. …I've been hit before and they said I wasn't hit. My job is to get on base, and fortunately for us it paid off at the time. I'm sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game."
I understand his motivation, and I understand that nearly all players at that level would do the same. The objective is to win. Honestly, this type of action is no different from Alex Rodriguez’s infamous “HAH!” incident or “Slap” incident. It’s no different from soccer players or basketball players “flopping” to achieve the turnover. It’s no different from football punters lunging to the ground if the opponent is even remotely close in order to achieve the illegal contact penalty for the automatic first down. I suppose acting is part of any game.
However, these actions don’t reflect good taste. Bending the rules might be beneficial during that moment, but it doesn’t exactly uphold any ideal of integrity. Jeter is absolutely correct in his assumption that had the Yankees won, there would have been much more commotion. The Rays would have lost the game feeling they had been robbed. It’d be similar to a boxer throwing a cheap shot to win the bout, and getting away with it. He might have won, but it wouldn’t be entirely legitimate. Frankly, I’m not that impressed with this type of behavior. I also wonder whether Jeter will get the call the next time a similar situation occurs.