Friday, September 17, 2010

Razzie's Award: Derek Jeter Hams It Up

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-Digger's Daily-

Derek Jeter put on quite a performance Wednesday night in St. Petersburg. One of baseball's true good guys is taking a beating in sports pages nationwide after faking being hit by a pitch during a crucial game against Tampa Bay for the AL East division lead.

Let's set the scene. Top of the 7th. Derek Jeter batting vs Chad Quails. Jeter turns to bunt. Quails throws a heater inside. Jeter twists to get out of the way. During the live telecast, viewers initially thought Jeter was hit by the pitch near his left wrist. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale immediately signals Jeter was hit. This is when Jeter started faking it. He keeled over in pain (or so we thought). New York's trainer rushed out of the Yanks dugout to tend to Jeter. Girardi soon followed. After a minute or two Jeter jogged to first.

Give Jeter the Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie). There really wasn't any need to over act (fake) getting hit to the extent displayed by one of baseball's all time good guys. Sports pages nationwide went on a tirade belittling what happened as replays clearly showed the ball hit the handle of Jeter's bat. Everyone on the field except the umpires knew Quails pitch hit the bat. The ball ricocheted off the bat deep onto the infield.

Jeter's at bat quickly became a game changer. Next batter up was Curtis Granderson who promptly cracked a go ahead two run home run over the right field fence. Tampa came back to win on Dan Johnson's second two run homer but the talk of the town wasn't the Rays win or sole possession of first place... it was all about Jeter's razzie.

Comments ranging from "Jeter's a Cheater" to you name it were thrown around as if DJ was Jose Canseco. Not the case. Did he over act? Absolutely. He probably should have just jogged down to first instead of pretending to be hurt. How many times have we witnessed batters hit but umps missed the call? Plenty. How many times have we witnessed batters faking it who were never hit? Plenty. So when a baseball umpire says "Take your base"... take it.

Derek's only fault was over acting. NOT the fact he took first base. The state of professional media elites these days is to castigate anyone and everyone. The baffling part is why Derek Jeter? Here's a guy who plays by the rules. A humanitarian. One of the few players interacting with fans at home and on the road. Never a bad word spoken of him by players, coaches or umps during a storied career. A true professional who plays through pain. No boozing it up stories. No drug abuse. No groping stewardesses. No steroids. No arrests, gunshot wounds, rapes, reckless driving, DWI, foul mouthed tirades or disrespect of America's favorite pastime. Perhaps, this act gave reporters ammo they've long searched to "create".

Make fun of his performance if you wish. He deserves a ribbing in good fun. Lay off the personal attacks. Jeter did nothing to warrant condemnation from pencil scribblers who probably never played an inning in their lives. Instead of celebrating felonious thugs masquerading as athletes how about cutting a good guy a break?


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