Jeter cheater

I've been a fan of Derek Jeter's for a long time. He's got skills, and he carries himself with a ton of class ... Or maybe I'm just that naive.

In a rare hour of relaxation -- that didn't include watching "Toy Story" -- I flipped on the Yankees-Rays game Wednesday night in the bottom of the sixth inning. A half inning later, Jeter pulled one of the slyest acting jobs I think I've seen in my years of watching Major League Baseball.
While ESPN showed replay after replay, clearly showing the ball hit the knob of Jeter's bat, Rays manager Joe Maddon fervently with umpire Joe West and eventually was tossed. I watched in amazement as the umpires huddled and still didn't overturn the call ... and then dropped my jaw when the next batter, Curtis Granderson, slapped a two-run homer to give the Yankees a one-run lead.
The play in question occurred in the top of the seventh, with one out and the Yankees trailing, Tampa Bay, 2-1, with first place on the line in the American League East.
The first pitch from Chad Qualls came in on Jeter’s hands — where he often does get hit — and smacked the knob of his bat as he spun away. He tossed his bat, clutched his elbow and hopped toward the Yankees’ dugout.

Having been awarded first base by the plate umpire, Lance Barksdale, Jeter continued to pretend he was in discomfort. Manager Joe Girardi raced out, as did the Yankees trainer, Gene Monahan, who examined Jeter’s arm.
Fortunately the Rays took the lead back on Dan Johnson's two-run home run and won the game. To make it right.

What floored me more than Jeter's acting job was the way he flatly admitted after the game that the ball hit his bat first. If you're going to act like the ball hit you, at least stick with the act after the game, too.

Reporter: "Where did that ball hit?"
Player: "I thought it hit my elbow."
Reporter: "Replays show the ball hit the knob of your bat first. Did you know it hit the knob of your bat?"
Player: "No. I felt it on my elbow. That's why I reacted the way I did."

It would have been that easy.

I get the whole gamesmanship thing. Get on base however you can. Play to win. Yada, yada, yada. ... Yet, in all of my years of playing baseball, I can't think of a scenario where I would have acted the way Jeter did. If the umpire makes the wrong call, that's one thing. I would have gone to first base, too.

It was Jeter's acting job, however, that made the play so uproarious.

As usual, Bob Ryan has a good take on the whole charade: Jeter caught in the act.

Update, 09.19.2010: Facing Questions, Jeter Asks One: What’s the Big Deal? ... In retrospect, he's got a good point.

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