Thursday, September 16, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

During last night's Yankees/Rays game, Derek Jeter spun away from an inside pitch, immediately grabbed his left arm and wrist as if the pitch had hit his elbow, and was awarded first base by the umpire. Before taking first, the Yankees trainers came onto the field to check out the damage done. Only problem with all of this is that replays showed that the ball hit the end of the bat -- not Jeter's arm. So he was acting -- and now has thrown the baseball world into a tizzy.

Honestly people, get a grip. Did Jeter fake things and play it up to get on base? Of course he did -- he admitted as much after the game, saying that it was his job to get on base any way that he could. So now, the twitterverse, blogosphere and sports talk radio is abuzz with the great debate: IS DEREK JETER A CHEATER?

Look, this is a fact of life in sports -- not just baseball. How many wide receivers dive for a ball, tumble over things and then come up holding the ball as if they just one-upped the "Immaculate Reception"? Happens several times a game. How many times does an outfielder dive for a ball that bounces on the ground and quickly in his glove and them holds his glove up to sell the catch? Everyone this side of Adam Dunn pulls that one. The flop that gets the charging call -- yep, those are part of the game, too.

I know these things are maddening when they happen against your favorite team. I'm as guilty of villifying a player for these types of things all the time. But I fail to see the side of this argument that would suggest that Jeter's somehow a tarnished idol now, or that this kind of thing is beneath him. This is part of the game, people, and we'll ALWAYS have to live with players trying to get away with some little thing or another to gain an edge. It's not cheating, it's not amoral, it's just a fact of life in the sporting world.

I'm fairly certain that there's perhaps maybe two players in baseball that might have stirred up a bigger mess of ridiculousness than the one that's surrounded Jeter today -- ARod and Manny Ramirez. Aside from those two guys, if ANYONE else does this, we're roundly saluting him as a heads up and savvy baseball player. Dustin Pedroia does that, and he's a "gamer", but somehow it's beneath Jeter. (That's not a shot at a Red Sox, plug in any player you want, and I'd make the same argument.)

Now, having said all this, I do agree that this is just one instance where we see that MLB really could benefit from the use of instant replay. The technology is there, and with a little planning and forethought (I know, not exactly Bud's strong suit), the game can be even better than it is, and I don't think the fan will have to suffer through too much dead time during a game -- or at least won't suffer through any more than they've become accustomed to.

But for now, let's all take a few deep breaths and just realize that this really isn't that big of a deal.

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