Analyzing the Derek Jeter Hit by Pitch (Video) | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Analyzing the Derek Jeter Hit by Pitch (Video)

Before I begin really getting into this, I should state that I love and respect Derek Jeter.  Through his career, I have been about as up and down with the guy as any player in the game.  Nomar was without a question my favorite player during all of his years in Boston, and the man that he was while he was there is the image that I will always envision as the franchise guy.  Nomar was Christ-like while in Boston in my opinion, and so Jeter was the anti-Christ.  Once Nomar was traded, however, it became really easy to fall in love with Jeter.  Derek Jeter is everything baseball considers and hopes itself to be.  If you follow this site, you know that I previously mentioned that when Jeter retires, I think he should be handed the American presidency.  Forget that.  The man deserves a coronation.

Wednesday night in Tampa in a one-run game, Derek Jeter was awarded first via hit-by-pitch.  Chad Qualls had just entered the game, and Jeter squared (but had no intention of actually bunting) and was hit by the pitch.  Or so the scorebook says.  In reality Mr. November fouled the bunt off with the knob and played it off like he was thumped in the wrist…or forearm…or somewhere.  Jeter was awarded first base after the umpire immediately through his hands up signaling a dead ball.  Curtis went deep to give the Yanks a one-run lead in the following AB.  Then everyone freaked out.

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Sure, if you are Joe Maddon, you probably should have gotten yourself tossed before Granderson’s AB began.  He successfully accomplished that.  If you are a Ray, you should probably be pretty upset since you lost the lead, but you quickly got it back and still won the game.  End of story?  Nope.  Unfortunately ESPN and other media outlets decided to challenge Jeter, the game, and ethics in general.

What Jeter accomplished (and I believe “accomplished” to be the correct term) is not instinctive.  While Jeter’s instincts will likely go down as the greatest in the history of the sport (remember when he relayed the ball to the dish against Oakland?), this is not a moment that represented them.  This represented work.  Tireless work.  It takes practice to seamlessly play off things that don’t happen – to the degree necessary to convince a four-man MLB crew – as though they did.

I have met a lot of guys who could play off a topper to the 3B or SS as though it hit them in the foot.  I was OK at that.  Some guys can get beaned with any bender up in the zone, even over the plate.  I was great at that.  I think if I knobbed a bunt I would have just stood there confused praying the damn thing went foul.  Jeter deserves to be commended for doing what it takes to reach base in a one-run game in September.  The man surely put the time in necessary to earn that base for his team.

The sports world does not seem to see it that way, especially those unfortunate fans that prefer sports that are not baseball.  As Brett mentioned a couple of months ago, the whole country now has HD access and 50” plasmas to make calling games really easy and accurate from a couch.  As a direct consequence, these same fans have called for replay in every sport.  Even baseball, which deservedly is held to a somewhat higher standard, has adopted the use of replay in bomb detection.

I can’t really blame the people in charge for that one simply because the viewing angles involved with some of those calls are impossible for anyone standing on the field.  Stuff that happens at the dish must be protected, however.  I have heard a lot of people who call themselves avid NFL fans explain why baseball needs to use replay to call everything from strikes to safes.  I tell them that this suggestion has no place within a game like baseball.  Calls happen every single pitch in baseball.  We are talking 500 pitches some games.

These games would be insanely long, boring, and stupid were the game to adopt a more liberal relay rule.  Balls-and-strikes are about as extreme an expansion of the replay rules as exists, but with any expansion, some of the game’s history and culture dies.  This is how I feel about it:  baseball is played by men, belongs to men, and should be judged by men.  This isn’t basketball or football.  Baseball deserves better.

Umpires suck.  No offense to Brett and Griff who have spent a lot of time in umpire uniforms.  I have spent some time in one too, regrettably.  Players and umpires have no business getting along.  I don’t trust them.  I can’t imagine why they would trust me.  They can take the game from any player they want at any time.  The player in many ways is at the mercy of the umpire, and it takes an incredible amount of effort to gain the kind of relationship that Jeter has with many of them.  I believe that the primary reason no one in the crew sent Jeter back to the dish with a strike is because he is Derek Jeter, and the umpires just have too much respect for the guy.

Jeter wins.  He represented the tying run.  Jeter has played the situation off as though it is amusing to him.  Why wouldn’t it be?  Umpires miss calls all the time.  The greats just have a way of getting the bad calls to go their way and the way of their team.   This happens in all walks of life.  Not just sports.

The issue is not with Jeter in my opinion.  Jeter has just been the game’s spokesman for a long time and is directly involved in this particular example.  America simply views baseball as a breeding ground for cheaters and believes that it is entirely too attached to antiquated mores.  I think more of Derek Jeter because of this incident.

The man will do anything for his team including demonize himself for a period of time while America copes with the thought that even Jeter isn’t above a little rule-bending.  Let me end things with a question: should Jeter have volunteered to return to his AB after the ball was called dead?  Is there precedent of this ever happening?  How about in September against a Divisional rival at their yard?

Long live Jeter.

2 Comments

  1. Buck Nasty says:

    I’m a big jeter hater and I gotta agree. Good for him. He wasn’t cheating because he didn’t break the rules. He was just playing the game and he fooled that ump just like a pitcher might fool a hitter with an inside curveball. Even the best of us umps blow calls occasionally. Jeter deserves his base and the baseball gods kept things in order by making sure new york didn’t win on some bullshit.

  2. Senator Towel says:

    I also agree. This is no different than a receiver in football trying to sell a pass interference call after he trips over his own feet. Happens all the time. Good for Jeter.

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