Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jeter cheater

I said to Madame Cura, "There's no way he can react that quickly and fake being hit." But then, watching the replay, you could see Jeter, eyes clenched shut in pain, slyly open one eye to look at the home plate umpire's reaction.

Jeter is so respected that he is usually cheered wherever he goes, even in opposing ballparks. But when he was in the on-deck circle as an eighth-inning rally fizzled, fans chanted, “Jeter cheater!”

Fresh in the fans’ minds was the tempest that brewed an inning earlier, when Rays Manager Joe Maddon was ejected after arguing that a pitch from Chad Qualls hit the knob of Jeter’s bat, bouncing into fair territory, and not his left forearm. Asked where the ball hit, Jeter smiled.

“The bat,” he said. And nowhere else? “Well, I mean, they told me to go to first,” he said.

Jeter sold the play well. The bat flew out of his hands, and he jumped away as the trainer Gene Monahan came out.

“Vibration,” Jeter said. “And acting.”

The umpires convened, upholding the original call, as Jeter stood on first base thinking, “Don’t change your mind.” Stunned, Maddon kept arguing, unclear how the ball could have caromed that hard into the infield — the Rays picked up the ball and made the out at first base — if it had struck only Jeter’s arm. Perhaps softened by a sweet victory, after the game Maddon called it a heady play.

“If our guys did it, I would have applauded that, too,” Maddon said. “It’s a great performance on his part.”

An incredible three game set. If these two teams meet in October, I strongly recommend watching the best of seven series.

But first, the Yankees have to start stringing some wins together again.



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