People have been buzzing about the Derek Jeter fake hit-by-pitch that took place on Wednesday night. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 7th against the Rays, Chad Qualls threw inside on Jeter who turned and acted as if he were hit by the pitch. Turns out the pitch hit the knob of the bat — not Jeter — but Jeter acted hurt and was sent to first base. Curtis Granderson followed with a home run to make it 3-2 Yankees. Had Dan Johnson not delivered the game-winning two-run home run in the bottom half, Jeter’s play may have won the game for the Yankees. So the question people have been debating today is whether or not that was a lame acting job similar to flopping, or whether that was a smart baseball play.
If I were in Jeter’s shoes, I would have acted like the pitch hit me too and happily taken my base had it been awarded by the umpires. I’ve argued for instant replay many times but as long as baseball is stubborn about it then you might as well take advantage of their weaknesses. For instance, if an umpire gives your pitcher a few inches off the corner, you throw it there even if you know it’s a ball. If you know the umpire will give you the out at second when you do a phantom tag then you do a phantom swipe on double plays. That’s all about taking advantage of baseball’s umpire-related weaknesses. Some help your team, some go against it. Jeter acting like he was hit is not about him slumping and looking for an out, it’s about seizing an opportunity. Sure, some of the media will give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s Derek Jeter, but he made the right move.
As for the common sense argument, well, if we know the ball didn’t hit him then he should not have been awarded the base. This is just another example of why baseball needs instant replay. Here’s a video of Derek Jeter’s hit by pitch in case you haven’t seen it:
Video Credit: YouTube user JusAireGoogle+