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Derek Jeter, Holy Cheater?

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We often misuse the word holy. It actually means set apart or different. If someone is holy, then he or she is sort of one-of-kind or unique. Apparently, the modern secret to being holy is to wear super tight pants and stand on this certain clay area in New York three days a week.

I suspect that, by now, most everyone has seen or heard what Mr. Jeter did last Thursday. In the 7th inning, Jeter took an inside pitch from Chad Qualls, which popped harmlessly off his bat and rolled down his leg. Jeter thenceforth began an Oscar-nominated performance for the home plate umpire, convincing him through grunts and interpretive hops that the pitch had mercilessly shattered his entire arm, rendering him henceforth an invalid (okay, it was not that dramatic; but he certainly grabbed his elbow and screamed like he broke something).

The ump purchased the tragic display and it netted Jeter first base, an ejected Joe Maddon, and an eventual Yankees lead. After the game, Maddon and seemingly the entirety of the fans of the world began lauding Jeter for inventing deceit.

Alex Remington of Fangraphs wisely began to marvel at this turn of events. Not more than six fortnights prior, a one Mr. A.J. Pierzynski performed the same injury dance and received a much less warm review. Let us examine some of the rationales at here and divine the temperament of our own community.

Mr. Remington takes the same side as he did before, that the act was reprehensible:

Lying to an umpire is effectively cheating: it’s trying to take credit for something you didn’t do. And when two players cheat in exactly the same way — like Pierzynski and Jeter, or bat-corkers Babe Ruth and Albert Belle — they should be held to the same standard.

Much like the preceding article about Pierzynski, the article's comments section blossomed like a field of angry wildflowers. However, in an interesting juxtaposition to the previous article, many voiced proud support of Derek Jeter and his actions.

A fellow known by "rezmanbrown" lifted this interesting pairing of comments from the Pierzynski thread:

Nice call, Bronnt. I dug up what you previously said:

April 15, 2010 at 6:23 pm
"Agreed. If Derek Jeter had done this, he’d have been lauded his smart play, and how he’s a "winner" and does "What it takes." I’m certain, if I have video of every Yankees game over the past 5 years, I could find Jeter trying to pull off the very same thing.

Pierzinski does this, and there’s outrage."

…to which somebody replied…

"April 15, 2010 at 6:56 pm
I doubt it. I’m not a Jeter sycophant but that is not the kind of thing he does"

Kind of amusing.

If my writing has not already surrendered my opinion, I will plainly admit that I felt Mr. Jeter cheated and that he is no less scum for his action than Mr. Pierzynski. As I noted in the comments section:

Excellent job, Mr. Remington. I believe you have hit the nail on the head.

I would rather root for men of integrity than those willing to prostitute their reputation for wins.

This flamboyant use of non-pro-Yankeeism earned me a hardy tide of Oh yeeeah?'s. The objections they posed do merit some debate though. The most noteworthy argument concerned catcher framing and trapped balls. As a fellow named "captain" put it:

would you be having the same reaction next time an OF on your favorite team traps a ball then tries to sell it as a catch? because that would fall under willfully deceiving an official. also catchers framing and pulling pitches back into the strike zone. they know what they’re trying to do

To which I proposed that these circumstances prove a bit more complicated, but still possess distinct differences:

Again, I go back to human nature: It’s actually a result of doubt in the catcher’s mind — not some plan to trick the umpire. Pulling a ball back to the zone does not typically help an ump call a strike (it typically has the opposite effect: the last minute glove jerk makes whispers to the ump, "Where was that one?").

Framing pitches in a more general sense is not cheating — simply because each umpires’ zone is slightly different. Thus good catcher must assume each borderline pitch is a strike.

If a player traps a ball — knows he trapped it — and then begins to feign a post catch celebration (perhaps a little dance) to try to convince the ump he caught it, I would be let down, regardless of the awesomeness of the dance.

To put this in real terms: If my main main, Carl Crawford, trapped a ball hit by the snidely and not-as-handsome-as-everyone-thinks Derek Jeter, then I would prefer him to grab the ball and throw a laser to second base — where the aging Jeter would be tagged out in a dusty cloud of his own hubris.

In other words, I’d rather him be honest with his actions. Lying on a HBP or trapped ball are equal in my mind...

I am excited to see the voting results from our own community. Certainly, the DRaysBay Everyman does not particularly like Derek Jeter, nor did he like the context of this particular play, but this is a matter of personal opinion and perception. Obviously I don't feel framing pitches compare to feigning injury, but that is purely a matter of my opinion.

So is Derek Jeter a holy cheater? Or is cheating defined too broadly by some?