Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Art of Cheating

Sports, it seems, condones and even applauds the act of passive wrongdoing. Has there ever been a time in the history of the game where a baseball player corrected an umpire's blown call and said he didn't check his swing, or he didn't steal that base, or he didn't catch that ball? No matter the error of the umpire's subjective opinion, it has been a central element of this sport to allow these mistakes to occur. The theory is evidently that it is not your job to call the plays, but only to play the game.

However, watching Derek Jeter pirouette out of the batter's box in apparent pain from being struck on his arm by a very hard object was far from allowing events to take place in the standard baseball universe. It was an act of creation. As I watched the replay and saw the Oriole manager run from the dugout to vehemently protest the call, I discussed with Richie what was happening. We surmised that although the ball had hit the bat and not the batter, perhaps the impact had caused shooting pains in Jeter's arm. This could not have been an act of intentional deception, not by one who had spent the last 15 years building up a war chest filled with moments of grace, dignity and integrity.

Once the contest was concluded, we waited for a plausible explanation. As Jeter had not been hit, and since, as we later learned, he was not hurt, then certainly this charade would be rationalized by Jeter as having occurred in a moment of panic. It was a close game, the Yankees had been playing terribly of late, Tampa Bay would not disappear, and Jeter would beg forgiveness. But there was no mea culpa. Not from Jeter, not from his manager. Even Showalter, who had been tossed out of the contest for arguing so vociferously, found no fault in the Yankee captain. It was all attributed to the 'win at all costs' philosophy of baseball.

I imagined what the reaction would have been if it had been A-Rod, not Jeter, in that batter's box. The insults about his lack of integrity would have been endless. Remember when he distracted the player on the other team and caused him to drop a fly ball between second and third base? Remember when he knocked the ball out of the glove of the first baseman, as he tried to do what was needed to reach safely? The crescendo of negative comments would have caused him to go into hiding.

I don't agree with what Jeter did. I don't believe the game was intended to foster the type of action that we saw from him. It diminishes the game, and it diminishes the man.


Shirley said...

Therefore, dead eyes

Robert said...

As opposed to the Red Sox who are dead in the water.