Thursday, September 16, 2010

Once a Cheater, Always a Jeter


There has been a lot of controversy throughout the baseball media world revolving around Derek Jeter's controversial hit-by-pitch during last night's Yankees vs. Rays game. Here is a recap of what happened to Jeter if you haven't seen it yet.

Jeter was batting in the 7th inning with his team down 2-1. A pitch broke inside toward Jeter and to the naked eye looked like it hit him on the hand. Jeter threw his bat, grabbed his wrist, and the trainer and manager had to come to look him over. The problem was... the ball never hit him. Every replay angle shows that the ball hit the knob of the bat. If you listen to the play at full speed you can clearly hear that the ball makes the sound of hitting a bat and not the thud of hitting a player. Jeter was awarded 1st base and Curtis Granderson proceeded to follow up Jeter's HBP with a homerun. In the end the Rays won the game off the strength of two Dan Johnson homeruns. Luckily this play didn't figure into the result for the winning team.

The controversy that has come out of this situation is about the acting job that Jeter did to get awarded the hit by pitch. A variety of writers and TV personalities have thrown out the accusation that what Jeter did was cheating. This accusation of "cheating" is a very gray area. Some people today have said that cheating has always been a part of the game of baseball. As an athlete you are always trying to find an advantage and this "cheating" is a part of that.

After the game Jeter was asked where the ball hit and he told the truth. He said the ball hit the bat. He explained that it is his job to get on base. He would do anything to help his team in a tight race for the AL East crown.

The best explanation that I have heard to counter all of this cheating was given by Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio. He used the Twins Joe Mauer as his example. He said that Mauer, Jeter, and Albert Pujols are three of the most respected players in the game. His "cheating" example for Mauer was the fact that on any pitch that is close to the plate Mauer is going to pull the ball closer to the plate. Is this an act of cheating? To try and convince the umpire that your pitcher threw a strike when he didn't. No... It is just part of the game.

Is Jeter a cheater? No, it is the umpires fault for calling it the way that he did.

Did Jeter need to put on the show that he did after he got "hit?" No, but he wanted to get to 1st base and it worked. Maybe he was audition for a Hollywood role for the off-season. Because he knows with the Yankees starting rotation he might be done with his season a little earlier than last year.

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