My wife, god bless her soul, was a baseball fan before she met me. Her father was one of the Marlins’ original season-ticket holders and my wife was the only one of his three children that loved to make the one-hour drive down to Miami to see Chucky Carr patrol centerfield for the expansion-Fish. (Luckily, through some intense debriefing, I have convinced her that Miami, and everything associated with it –especially the Dolphins and Marlins– are the problem with the modern world).
That said, she has reached a new level of baseball appreciation since the start of the 2008 season and her love of the Rays is only surpassed by our two-year-old daughter’s fandom. Because she loves the game now, I thought it would be appropriate to write occasional posts based on her observations (which are not clouded by the propaganda old baseball men in Tampa pound into the heads of little leaguers) and her questions. All those posts will be tagged “Questions from the Mrs.”
That was a long introduction but the background was necessary. One of my wife’s favorite baseball debates is when cheating is cheating and when it is “gamesmanship.” (First, can we all agree that there is no way that “gamesmanship” is a word?)
This discussion, of course, arose last night when the Yankee captain faked his way to first base pretending that he was hit by a pitch. When it happened, I sent a string of profanity-laden text messages to Yankee-fan friends
and threatened to head over to Jeter’s new Davis Islands home and burn it to the ground (that was obviously
an idle threat because I’d need the Great Chicago Fire to even dent that monstrosity).
But, upon further review, perhaps I owe Jeter an apology. Here was his take after the game:
“The bat,” Jeter said. “The umpire told me to go to first.”
Was Jeter attempting to shake off the vibrations?
“Vibrations and acting, both,” he said. “That’s part of the game. My job is to get on base. I have been hit and not gotten on base.”
Truth is, I sort of agree. It was a one-run game, in September, and first place was on the line. If Jason Bartlett did that in front of a BJ Upton home run, I’d be praising him for doing anything necessary to win the East. Jeter, I suppose, was doing the same thing at time when he is scuffling at the plate. So, in this instance, my vote is that Jeter’s antics, while unsavory, fall within the accepted range of baseball gamesmanship — akin to stalling at the mound while a pitcher warms up in the bullpen.