Second question of the day: Was it OK for Derek Jeter to fake getting hit by a pitch?
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
NASCAR is governed by a simple creed: “If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin.” (They really talk that way in stock-car racing, by the way.)
Baseball lives by a similar code. From the phantom double play and scuffed baseballs to stealing signs and catchers framing pitches in an attempt to steal strikes, baseball players have always bent the rules in an attempt to gain an advantage.
And it’s no different in football, basketball or any other sport. The only illegal plays are the ones you get caught at. You can debate whether that’s moral, but you cannot debate whether that’s reality.
Derek Jeter -- who is the captain of baseball’s premier franchise, don’t forget -- pulled a fast one in order to give his team an advantage in an important game that may wind up deciding the division title. If the umpire doesn’t catch it, consider it a good play.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
Give Derek Jeter an Oscar. And extra MVP consideration.
Jeter was once again instinctively brilliant when he faked getting hit with that Chad Qualls pitch in the seventh inning on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. It was a case of bad umpiring and very, very smart baseball.
The Yankees were trailing 2-1, so getting on base was Jeter’s priority. When the Qualls pitch hit the knob of his bat, he immediately acted as if the pitch hit him and he was in pain, and umpire Lance Barksdale bought it, sending him to first base.
Never mind that Rays Manager Joe Maddon and everyone nearby except Barksdale heard the ball clunk off the bottom of Jeter’s bat. Barksdale apparently had cotton in his ears and didn’t hear it, so the Yankees had what they wanted – the tying run on first base.
Some people think that a player of Jeter’s stature shouldn’t trick an umpire to get on first base. But it’s exactly because Jeter is so resourceful that he has the stature he does. He knows the right thing to do at the right time every time, and this was just example No. 1,487.
Brilliant player. Smart move. Bad umpiring.
Updated at 1:33 p.m.
Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel
Describe this play without mentioning the offending Yankee and nine out of 10 fans guess Alex Rodriguez was the culprit. In no way does this compare to screaming at a fielder while running past him or trying to dislodge a guy’s glove from his hand to avoid a tag. Jeter’s biggest crime was overacting.
He should have trotted to first as soon as home plate umpire Lance Barksdale signaled. Leaping out of the way with a quick shake of the hand and convincing wince was sufficient. Bending at the waist, hands on knees, with a trainer present was overkill.
This is no different than an outfielder trapping a ball and showing the umpire his glove, or a catcher bringing back an outside pitch. If the umpire gets fooled, shame on him.
Photo: Derek Jeter is examined by the team trainer on September 15. Credit: J. Meric / Getty Images.