I mentioned this briefly in the post-game summary, but it seems to have more legs than I realized, probably because there isn’t a whole lot else going on today, so I figured I’d share my two cents (not actually worth two cents) on the ordeal.
The Yankees were trailing 2-1 in the 7th inning last night with Derek Jeter up and one out. Jeter squared around to bunt, but the pitch came up and in and he pulled the bat back. While doing so the knob of the bat caught the ball and unleashed a sound that could not be mistaken for anything other than a ball hitting a bat. However, the umpire pointed to first base and Jeter, in an effort to keep the umpire from second guessing himself, leaped in pain as if he’d been hit.
Missed the play? Check out the video here.
Replay confirmed what our ears had already lead us to believe. The ball hit the bat and Jeter wasn’t hurt, he was just trying to sell it to get on base. The move paid off, the next batter, Curtis Granderson, homered to put the Yankees ahead 3-2 instead of merely tying the game.
At the time I didn’t think much of it. Players literally do this all the time. It’s really a regular thing in baseball. It’s annoying when the opposition does it, but what goes around comes around. Just the other day when Jeff Francoeur was hit by Mariano Rivera in the walk-off hit by pitch, Francoeur did his own embellishment to make sure the call went his way. That ball actually hit Franchy, but it was pretty much the same play nonetheless.
However, the next day, again probably because there isn’t a whole lot to talk about, everyone is up in arms about it. Matt Warden of the Yankeeist’s reaction is quite typical:
Honestly, this type of action is no different from Alex Rodriguez’s infamous “HAH!” incident or “Slap” incident.
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.
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.
Overreacting much? Not too much, much too much.
Not only does this exact type of thing happen regularly in baseball, it wouldn’t be some grave misdeed had the Yankees won. This is a game, there is some gamesmanship that occurs. You can’t take this kind of stuff too seriously. The Rays own manager, Joe Maddon, who got ejected arguing the play, admitted after the game that he would have applauded the play had it been from one of his own players.
Furthermore, there are other plays that happen regularly in baseball that are right along the same lines: catchers framing outside pitches trying to make them look like strikes, players sprinting out of the box on check swings trying to deke an umpire into awarding a walk, and outfielders pretending they caught balls that they actually trapped (thanks to Chad Jennings for these examples).
Honestly, it’s a game. Try to lighten up and not take this stuff too seriously. Besides, it happens all the time. You are only whining because it’s a slow news day and the media has focused on because of Jeter’s squeaky clean image.