Derek Jeter reduced himself to cheating in last night’s Yankees game against the Tampa Bay Rays. He may have fooled four different umpires who were on the field at the time, but the real question is, is Derek Jeter trying to fool himself?
As the Rays and the New York Yankees battle it out for 1st place of the American League East, Jeter may be losing his edge and even his professional stature.
With the Yankees losing 2-1 in the top of the 7th, Ray’s pitcher Chad Qualls delivered the controversial pitch. Jeter squared to bunt and a loud crack was heard. The ball popped into fair territory just a few feet in front on the plate, as Jeter hopped around wincing with imaginary pain in the area of his left wrist or elbow.
At the same time, Jeter, 36, introduced fans to an apparently, secret hobby, of his called acting. Acting lessons or not, Jeter clearly lied to get on base. The Yankee athletic trainer, Gene Monahan bolted from the dugout with manager Joe Girardi closely behind. As the two assessed Jeter’s health, home plate umpire Lance Barksdale awarded the actor first base.
Ray’s manager Joe Maddon immediately argued the call as he was convinced that the ball did not make contact with Jeter in any way. Maddon was eventually thrown out of the game for his persistent effort to seek the truth.
Even YES Network play-by-play announcer, Michael Kay, who initially fell for Jeter’s ruse, weighed in on the superstar’s acting debut. After reviewing the replay, “Wow, Derek is some actor,” Kay said surprisingly.
“My job is to try and get on base,” Jeter told YES Network announcer, Kimberly Jones during a post game interview. When asked by Jones where the pitch ultimately hit, Jeter openly admitted that the ball did indeed hit the bat.
But one has to ask Derek why? We all know Jeter is a competitor and will do all he can to help his team obtain victory every time he puts on the Yankee uniform. Cheating however, is not winning and neither is lying to justify it.
“He(Barksdale) told me to go to first, I am not going to tell him I’m not gonna go to first,” Jeter said to Jones. “It’s part of the game.” Jeter continued on to say he had been hit with pitches throughout his career which umpires did not call properly.
Integrity of one’s character should be questioned when a player behaves this way. Steroid use by players is considered cheating. So why shouldn’t Jeter’s acting guild performance be seen in a similar light? In both cases, players are seeking an advantage to gain victory.
Derek Jeter, playing his 16th year as a New York Yankee, has been respected both on and off the field because of his professional and personable style. He has inspired children everywhere but one has to wonder how his decision to cheat will be interpreted by those who look up to him.
If Derek Jeter cheats, it must be part of the game and make no mistake, young players will begin to incorporate such behaviors into their game.
To deepen the issue, Jeter’s tacky stunt proved temporarily successful when fellow Yankee, Curtis Granderson followed with a tremendous, two run home run to give the Bombers a 4 -3 lead going into the bottom of the 7th.
Jeter’s next appearance at the plate was in the 9th inning with the Yankees trailing by one run. With a chance to keep the Yankees alive, it seemed Jeter had more to worry about than pitcher Rafael Soriano’s blazing fastball. The Tampa Bay fans and a little thing called Karma.
The Yankee Captain struck out and as he did a smirk of reality glazed his face. One could wonder if the facial expressions were that of guilt and acceptance. Perhaps Jeter was happy he failed at this particular at bat. Perhaps the wrong had been righted.
Let’s face the facts, despite his Academy Award performance, Jeter is not a cheater.
The Rays went on to win the game which dignified them with a 1st place standing, as they dropped the 2009 World Series Champions to 2nd place, and one-half game behind.
Watch the video replay.