Toronto Baseball Guys
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
  Derek Jeter - One Big Knob
It's well-established that I'm no big fan of Derek Jeter's. Last week, The Derek drew quite a lot of attention in a game against Tampa Bay, after an inside pitch nicked the knob of his bat. Jeter sold the umpires on the idea that the ball had hit him, going so far as to call out the Yankees trainer to examine his hand. He was eventually awarded first base.

A grinning Jeter later confirmed to reporters that the ball didn't touch him (Unless the umpires believe that Jeter's hand is made out of maple, the sound of the play SHOULD have tipped them off).

There's a school of thought that this was a cagey stroke of genius by the Yankees Captain, and proponents of the move point out that baseball has a longstanding and noble history of cheating, whether scuffing or greasing a ball or corking a bat in order to gain an advantage over an opponent.

There's an equally longstanding tradition of suspending the bat corkers, ball scuffers and less-than-noble steroid users when you catch them. MLB wouldn't have been amused with Gaylord Perry happily explaining his spitter to reporters after the game, so why not slap the Yankees captain with a game or two?

Yes, 99 out of 100 players, if not more, would have taken their base if told to do so. Fewer would have turned it into an audition for James Lipton by calling out the trainer.

But Derek Jeter isn't 99 out 100 players - he's supposed to be more. Imagine for a moment if Jeter had waved off first base, acknowledging that the pitch hit the bat and not him. He steps back into the box, and inside-outs a double into the gap in right-centre field.

Albert Belle - having hit three home runs and driven in 6 - once tried to turn down an HBP in order hit. The umpires eventually ordered him to first.

That's who Derek Jeter is SUPPOSED to be, what the Yankee hype-machine has built him up to be: the upstanding legend, the face of baseball. Antics such as these supposed to be the province of teammate, exotic substance devotee and all-around douchebag, Alex Rodriguez. But at this point in his career, Jeter is a 36-year-old whose OPS has slipped under .700. Maybe one base is the best he can hope for.

The optimal postscript to this story is the Boy Who Cried Wolf Ending, in which - late in a tight ALCS game against the Rays - Jeter actually DOES get clipped by a pitch, but gets called back by umpires who don't like to look stupid and aren't going to fall prey to such chicanery a second time. A sore-handed Jeter grounds into a series-ending double play and gets to reflect upon the consequences of his foray into acting for the remainder of the off-season.

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