Go ahead, tell me that I have no respect for the integrity of baseball. It's true, I'm the one who thinks all the perjury charges against Roger Clemens should be dropped and that his name and face should be on a plaque in Cooperstown next to Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez.
The list of players who have been ostracized from baseball history due to their habits of "cheating" is getting so big that it's becoming ridiculous. And after Wednesday night, due to the extensive coverage the incident has been getting on ESPN, another name should be added to that list: Mr. November, Derek Jeter.
I was watching the Yankees/Rays game live last night when the incident occurred, as a somewhat neutral Red Sox fan hoping my team could find a way back into the race. When Jeter "got hit" with the pitch, I had the same reaction just about everyone else watching the game must have had. I was a bit worried for his health because from a blind eye the ball really did look like it got him on the hand.
Then they showed the replay for the first time, and I watched pretty carefully to see just where the ball hit him, and if it could have done any damage. The slow-motion replay was shown, and there was the evidence—the ball hit the bottom of Jeter's bat, only hitting him lightly in the chest on the rebound. There was absolutely no reason for the reaction Jeter initially showed.
My reaction towards this as I shouted at the TV: "It didn't even hit him! Only Jeter would get away with that."
Which is true. Derek Jeter should be able to get away with something like that. He's won five World Series rings, is closing in on 3,000 hits, and has been on of the most classy characters Major League Baseball has ever seen in the process. One very well executed acting job (which by the way, made Jeter look like Tom Hanks in comparison to Pau Gasol), is nothing else but a very clever play by one of baseball's most winningest players.
He did get away with it. Baseball has been too stubborn to insert any more replay capabilities and the umps did not have enough clear cut evidence to overturn the call. Joe Maddon knew what the call should have been, and got himself tossed from the game. He was upset with the umpire for failing to hear the distinct noise the ball made.
He was not upset at Derek Jeter. If the umpire had made the right call from the start, Jeter would have looked like a fool for a second and then everybody would have laughed it off.
Instead, we have this debacle.
The story was on the front page of ESPN.com and took up 50 percent of SportsCenter's airtime all morning and afternoon (the other 50 percent being Reggie Bush related). Not only were baseball analysts chiming in on the subject, but Jeff Gordon and Darren Woodson were asked about it as well.
After one petty little acting job, similar to the 20+ we see every NBA game, Derek Jeter has now been labeled "Jeter the Cheater." A similar label to just about every baseball star that played in his generation.
It was only a matter of time before the general public and sports media found a way to label Derek Jeter as something other than "squeaky clean." As we have seen in baseball over the past decade or so, people seem to have a strange infatuation with finding ways in which players are not playing the game clean.
Sports media ignores the high level of integrity that much of baseball plays with everyday, especially Jeter, and has to focus in on the small little things that could be skewed into being considered "cheating."
I guarantee many of the current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame have done something do gain an edge on their opponents that could be skewed by the ignorant public into being "considered" cheating.
Roger Clemens was the best pitcher baseball baseball has seen in a half a century. Barry Bonds was the best hitter baseball has seen in a half a century. Alex Rodriguez is the most freakishly gifted five-tool athlete we've seen in half a century. And Derek Jeter is the greatest winner we have seen in half a century.
Yet, all four are cheaters.
What a shame.