Derek Jeter Cheated. So What?

All the way back in April, I wrote about an incident in which A.J. Pierzynski faked being hit by a pitch and went to first base. Rob Neyer called him out for lying his way to first base — cheating — and suggested that baseball ought to have a punishment mechanism to punish players who succeed by lying. It’s worth thinking about, as I wrote: “It’s bush league, it’s unsportsmanlike, it delays the game, and it creates a major moral hazard problem, because it incentivizes every other player to lie.”

So guess who else was incentivized to lie? Derek Jeter. Last night, in the middle of the worst season of his career, Jeter turned away from an inside pitch which glanced off his bat and then brushed his uniform, then hopped away in pain, got checked out by the Yankee trainer, and then went to first base. In the clubhouse afterwards, Jeter admitted the ball hit his bat and he was “acting” for the benefit of the umpire, saying: “I’m not going to tell him, ‘I’m not going to go to first,’ you know? My job is to get on base.” Because he’s Derek Jeter, he has been mostly applauded for his bravado. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, whose team was victimized on the play, said, “I wish our guys would do the same thing.” ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian said it was brilliant, that whether you called it lying or cheating, Derek Jeter was simply doing his job to get to first base by any means necessary.

But wait a minute. By any means necessary? Haven’t we had to endure a decade’s worth of holier-than-thou sanctimony condemning the notion that “any means” are acceptable? Part of the praise is directed at Jeter because, of course, he’s Derek Jeter. Pierzynski is an unpopular player, so when he lied his way on base, he was called out for it by me and others. When Jeter did it, he was praised by the opposing manager. Jeter’s the kind of guy about whom ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski can write:

Jeter’s name is where I draw the line in the PED sand. He is the absolute last guy I’d ever suspect of juicing. It seems so, well, beneath him. He is the one player who I actually think would walk away from the game if he thought he had to cheat to compete.

Now, of course, we know that Jeter does cheat to compete. Look, I’m not trying to write yet another post complaining about how sportswriters turn their brains off when it comes to Derek Jeter. Instead, I think this illustrates, once again, that the way that we approach the notion of cheating is seriously misguided. The steroid era imparted two valuable lessons: everyone has the incentive to cheat, and unless you cheat with steroids, no one cares. Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Phillies were accused of cheating by stealing signs, and officially warned by Major League Baseball, and the furor died down more or less immediately.

As Bill James recently wrote, breaking the rules may not be the worst thing in the world: “We are not a nation of Hall Monitors; we are a nation that tortures Hall Monitors. We are people who push the rules.” Babe Ruth broke the rules. Everyone breaks the rules. But we should acknowledge that there are rules, and we should agree on what it means to break them. Cheating is when you do something against the rules for your personal gain. Steroids have been banned; so have corked bats, spitballs, emery boards, amphetamines, and outfield telescopes. 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.




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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.

164 Responses to “Derek Jeter Cheated. So What?”

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  1. John says:

    This should be fun.

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  2. Brandon says:

    Just imagine how the tenor would change if it was Arod who got caught doing this.

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  3. Damian says:

    A “Jeter Cheated” column…. at fangraphs? Ugh.

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  4. Richard D Jamez says:

    Babe Ruth cheated?

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  5. Zack Greinke says:

    A major difference in context was that AJP’s incident occurred during the 8th inning of a no-hit bid.

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    • But how important is that, really? Would it really be different if ballplayers only took amphetamines during the 8th inning of a no-hit bid?

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      • Zack Greinke says:

        Taking PEDs during the 8th inning of a no-hit bid wouldn’t be different, but that’s not the same kind of cheating. Those type of offenses have been deemed much more severe by the public.

        Jeter acting his way to 1st base during a losing effort was essentially inconsequential to the game’s results. But AJP acting his way to 1st base during a serious no-hit bid is different because there’s a chance he affects the game from a historical standpoint.

        I agree with Bill James for the most part, and am in no way defending Jeter. Or AJP for that matter – it’s all part of the game. But you can’t say Jeter and AJP cheated the exact same way. The latter’s act had a much higher potential to dramatically affect the outcome of the game. Perhaps not the W/L, but who knows? Maybe forcing Romero to pitch from the stretch is what prevented him from achieving a no-hitter. Course we can’t say that for certain, but it’s possible. We know that Jeter’s acting didn’t change anything in the end.

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      • quincy0191 says:

        It ended up being inconsequential, but Jeter was on first when Granderson homered, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. If they had won the game by that score, then Jeter would have essentially cheated his way into a win, and in a tight AL East race, that could determine homefield advantage for the playoffs, draft position, etc. It probably didn’t matter as the Rays came back and won, but you never know how far the effects of your actions go.

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    • Tom B says:

      A no-hit bid that did absolutely nothing for the Royals. Whereas Jeter is trying to win a division.

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      • Zack Greinke says:

        Actually, it was the Blue Jays and a no hitter would have gone into the history books. Jeter didn’t affect the outcome of the game as the Yankees still lost. I’m not saying that either act was worse/better… they just different circumstances and I believe that is ONE reason why AJP got so much more grief than Jeter.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Greinke, it’s hardly the main reason, since Jeter isn’t getting much of what I’d call “grief,” and a whole lot of “Good Job.”

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      • Alexander says:

        @Greinke
        The run was quite important at the time. There was no way of knowing that the Yankees would lose.

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      • Bill says:

        Jeter got on base before what sans Dan Johnson would have been a game winning home run. A game winning home run in a game in September in a divisional race that was, at the time, separated by .5 games. The cheating incident was very meaningful. I’m betting Maddon wouldn’t have been a good sport about it if he’d lost the game.

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    • verd14 says:

      Is this the real cy young winning Zack Greinke? <—-would be cool if so.

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  6. sean says:

    I wish every member of the mainstream media would just line up, each give Jeter an ethusiastic blowie, and get over it.

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  7. Mark says:

    At least it’s not about players waiting in line to buy Halo:Reach at midnight.

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  8. Jeffrey Gross says:

    Reminds me of an old article: Jeter Jeter Pumkin Eater

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  9. Mark says:

    It’s interesting that a lot of the same media members who spent the summer decrying the flopping in the World Cup are defending Jeter’s flopping today.

    And I agree with the ARod comment above. If he’d done the same thing, the reaction from a lot of people would have been far different.

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  10. Jeffrey Gross says:

    Also, AJ Pierzynski does this like daily, so meh. Just means Jeter is a better actor than most players (and unethical)

    Though ESPN raised a good point that it all happened so fast and the ball did end up hitting Jeter (albeit after it hit the bat)…perhaps Jeter just thought it hit him simultaneously

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  11. MikeM says:

    Jeter faked an injury to gain an advantage for his team that had an effect on the game’s outcome. Faking injury to gain an advantage and influence the official is pathetic. I think there is a clear line that he crossed. Let’s call it the European Kickball Line. If baseball players resort to this tactic (and slow the game down because of it) then the sport I love sinks to the level of soccer. And I don’t want to live in that world.

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  12. moebius says:

    Why are we talking about this?

    Did the runner who was clearly out in Galarraga’s “perfect game” get called out for cheating?

    Do players who administer “phantom tags” (like Posada’s recent sell job) get called out for “cheating”?

    Baseball players will use any little advantage they can to help their teams win. Get over it.

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    • John says:

      The examples you give are cases of a player attempting to run out a ball or apply a tag and then ump doesn’t see the call correctly. That is different than faking an injury to mislead the umpire. People dislike it for the same reason they hate seeing flopping in basketball and soccer.

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    • I think there’s an important distinction between knowingly cheating and being wrongly convinced you are right. Jeter KNEW it hit his bat.

      I’m inclined to believe that most phantom “taggers” and the sort are convinced they won — just like how wide receivers in the NFL are convinced they landed in bounds and cause their coach to lose a challenge.

      It’s one thing for people to make wrong judgments because of their human limitations or confidence; it’s entirely another thing to willfully deceived an official.

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      • Captain says:

        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

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      • 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.

        That being said, I also think most players, self-confident as they are, will honestly believe they caught the ball unless they see proof otherwise — just the way I could swear I didn’t foul that guy in basketball the other day until his teeth starting dropping onto the floor [/joke].

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    • Bronnt says:

      I remember a comment I made when AJ Pierzinski got called out for this on this very site. I said something like “Jeter would get praise for faking, but Pierzinski gets lambasted.” Someone even responded “Jeter would not do something like this.”

      Jeter could get a pass for basically anything at this point because we’ve spent 15 years hearing about how epic he is.

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      • rezmanbrown says:

        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.

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      • Here’s the link to that comment.

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      • MikeS says:

        Comparing that comment thread and this one is extremely amusing.

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    • Jonathan says:

      I think the point is less that something should be done about it and more that people need to just shut up about Jeter being some holier than holy baseball Jesus who would never dare sully the name of the sport by doing anything remotely unsportsmanlike. Jeter, by definition, cheated. Jeter also admitted to it point blank after the game.

      As many people point out, A-Rod would’ve gotten absolutely annihilated in the media if he did this, but Jeter gets the usual verbal felatio. That is the very definition of a double standard.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Agreed. We really shouldn’t care about these things. They’re tiny in scope, don’t have a huge impact on the game, and only work if they can successfully fool the umpire. If a guy is rolling around on the ground screaming from a ball that missed him, fine him for being obnoxious. Short of that, I applaud anyone who can successfully reach base by playing it off, whether he be AJ Pierzinski or A-Rod or Derek Jeter.

        I have no problem with a little gamesmanship, I have problems with double standards.

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    • JTC says:

      First of all, this isn’t about Jeter not turning to the ump and saying “that didn’t hit me”; its about him faking the injury when his left hand was no longer even on the bat when the ball hit it. It was 100% a fake job to try to influence the ump. The soccer reference is a great one. On the other hand, this isn’t golf, and he got away with it, so, play on. Mostly it just says something about his character, (and like most things, with good and bad sides.) One would hope that people just open their minds and see him for what he is… a fierce competitor who I wouldn’t trust at all if there was some benefit in it for him.

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  13. ACWNS09 says:

    I wouldn’t call getting a beneficial call “cheating”. I would expect any player to to accept the HBP. I do despise the acting job (calling the trainer out, etc.) that he pulled afterward, though.

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  14. Jon in CUO says:

    Yankee fan here, so maybe I’m biased, but I really don’t care. If Kevin Youkilis gets on base the same way during a crucial game, I’ll be upset and yelling, but not at Youkilis.

    Add instant replay, look at the “hit” body part to see if the ball left a mark, make umpires get Lasik, whatever. Do whatever you can to get the call right. But don’t cast aspersions on a player trying to win. It’s the umpires’ job to get the call right, not the players’.

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    • B N says:

      The difference is that if it was Youk, he’d make DARN sure that ball actually hit him rather than leaving it to some sort of acting abilities. I say if you want to take the base, be willing to take your medicine.

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      • Cliff Lee's Changeup says:

        Its called selling.

        And I’m not sure you want your star first baseman leaning into too many pitches, hasn’t he been hurt enough this year?

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      • AndrewYF says:

        Hahahahaha!

        Youkilis has never taken any ‘medicine’ in his life. Even when he receives a pitch that is up but laterally over the plate, he falls on the ground and acts all indignant that a pitcher would even elevate a ball on him. Yes, the ball was close to your head, because your head was OVER THE PLATE.

        I can’t imagine such a person who is so afraid of a baseball getting within even a foot of him would ever voluntarily get hit.

        And do you realize what voluntarily getting hit is (instead of trying to get out of the way)? Yeah, that’s ACTUALLY cheating.

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      • Steve says:

        It’s not really Youkilis’ fault. Half of North America is within a foot of his head.

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  15. stratobill says:

    Since when does stealing signs constitute “cheating”? Is there something
    in the rulebook that says you can’t steal signs?

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    • As I wrote in my post about the Phillies’ accusations of sign stealing, there are rules prohibiting using electronic devices, including for the purposes of stealing signs. (“Such equipment may not be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.”)

      Most binoculars, therefore, would be exempted from the letter of the law, but not necessarily from the spirit. Sign stealing has long been part of the game, and it’s also long been viewed as something in the spirit of “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” — unsportsmanlike behavior that you do in order to win.

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  16. Kenny says:

    It’s the job of the mainstream media to spin players as good guys and bad guys. Derek Jeter is a “good guy” and having him be a good guy helps the mainstream media up until Jeter pulls a Tiger Woods. To me, its about whatever is worth more to the media to do.

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    • Jonathan says:

      To put it as bluntly and crassly as possible:

      I’m reasonably sure that Jeter could drop trow and squeeze one out on a reporter’s chest during a postgame and that same reporter would probably spend the next half hour complimenting Jeter’es grit and intangibles.

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    • Nom Chompsky says:

      To be fair, he’d have to get married first. I’m pretty sure he’s played the field about as much as any player could (according to TMZR), it’s just that there are no kids/wives involved.

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  17. 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.

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    • Frank says:

      Prostitute their reputation??? What are we talking about here? A player is played to win, no? Whether that player is Derek Jeter or not.

      A clear line must be drawn between those using banned substances and taking advantage of an antiquated umpiring system. How many players have been robbed of a base on balls by an umpire because of a blatant bad strike three call? Yet the player has no recourse. He must sit his ass down back in the dugout. In this instance, the umpire called a HBP regardless of Jeter’s acting and regardless of whether you agree with it or not.

      I would hardly call that prostituting one’s reputation. Very strong words for such a small incident. Directing your ire at the umpires would be more appropriate.

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      • I can’t fault umpires for having an impossible task. We expect perfection from them, but reasonably and predictably receive less. I’m all for removing as many human elements from the officiating as possible and adding robot strike-callers.

        However, I think just as many batters have benefited from human umpires as have been stung by a missed called ball. It’s not as though there is an undeniable and historical chain of Umpire-against-Batter oppression. Jeter was not avenging the missed calls of generations before him. He was lying.

        And that is why I use my undeniably strong term: “prostituting his reputation.” Consider the two main elements:

        a) He was willfully deceitful.
        b) He benefited from it at the expense of others.

        If someone did that at my work place or in my community or in my home, this person would be universally reviled. There would be no rationalization of “oh, he’s just being smart.” No. He would acting like a criminal.

        Granted, the stage of baseball is much less severe than other areas of real life — it is a game after all. But his actions reveal — to me, at least — as misappropriation of priorities easily akin to the rationale behind the steroid and amphetamine use of the past.

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    • Tom B says:

      So I guess you don’t watch any sports at all?

      Every game, every play, every sports something like this is going on. it only looks bad in baseball because it is a very personal game. Have you ever watch a basketball player flop for a foul? a wide receiver drop at the first sign of contact on a deep pass? a catcher drag hit glove back to the strike zone to try to trick the umpire? How are any of those scenarios different.

      Maybe golf… that’s about the only sport I can see stuff like this not happening… and only because they review everything. The dude grounding his club to lose recently is a great example.

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      • I prefer to give players the benefit of the doubt on many of these issues.

        Moreover, flopping for a foul and dropping on first contact are both legal and often very prudent plays. These are individuals who — if they stood their ground — would risk either (a) causing the official to overlook the opposing player’s penalty or (b) incurring a penalty of their own (a foul or an offensive pass interference). For the catchers comment, I would prefer to point you to my previous statement about that above (because my comments are already too long).

        This is different from those who knowingly receive phantom touches and collapse like a wilting flower. That is the morally deficient action of a cheater.

        Not only do I watch (perhaps too many) sports, I play a great deal of them as well. And I consider myself a regrettably honest player — one who admits to fouls at the protest of my teammates. Despite this, I still do things that fall under your excessively broad interpretation of cheating simply because I am human and believe the wrong things sometimes: I wrongly believe my feet are inbounds when they were not, I wrongly swear the pitch was outside when it was clearly in the zone, and so on. I am not a cheater, but merely a human with inconsistent and psychologically-influenced memory.

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  18. gosox says:

    youre a retard remington

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  19. joeiq says:

    Is there are rule against acting while playing? Jeter didn’t grant himself first base. Everyone tries to sell the call their way. People make dives and drop the ball, and try to hide it.

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    • B N says:

      Hey, he’s not going to be able to play forever you know. Eventually, he may have to make a living off those acting abilities! And for my part, I look forward to “Jeter-Zam” and “Jeter-Fu”

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  20. bonestock94 says:

    Stuff like this only upsets me if it’s done by the other team. But even then I put all the blame on the ump getting tricked.

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  21. Dan In Philly says:

    And another nail in the box, burying the whole concept of sportsmanship. I guess I shouldn’t be suprised, given how jaded everyone seems to be, but if Jeter were my kid, I’d be disappointed in him, and if my kid looked up to him, I would likely tell him that’s not how I would want him to play the game. But Jeter makes millions of dollars and I don’t, so what do I know, anyway?

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  22. P4ri4H says:

    worst. writer. ever.

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  23. Daern says:

    I would first of all like to say that I very firmly “supported” Pierzynski on this very site when he committed his apparently egregious crime. I said then, as I say now, that he was not cheating, but rather being dishonest in a manner accepted in the game. That’s an important distinction. You may not like it, but it’s not rule-breaking or cheating. Hell, technically neither was PED use when a lot of those accused of that did so, but that’s a whole different can of worms that I will keep sealed and on my shelf for a while more.

    No matter how much it pains me, I’m on Jeter’s side here, like I was on A.J.’s. It’s part of the game. Deal with it.

    Must be said that the discrepancy in how the two are treated is both annoying and fairly hilarious.

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  24. Bob says:

    I think it’s perfectly fine to try to sell a call like this. Whether you’re C’ptn Jetes or A.J. Pierz-I’m-a-douche-bag-ski.

    I also think it’s perfectly fine for the opposing team to make sure Jeter or Pierznyski really earns their HBP during the next game.

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  25. GZ says:

    What I find interesting is that while everyone is parsing the rulebook, there’s not mention of what would be the honorable and sporting thing for Jeter to do.

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  26. Brandon says:

    … an the next time Jeter is batting against the Rays late in a game that’s not close, he’ll get a fastball in the ribs that he won’t have to fake. And the ump will look the other way. When the other guy throws a hard, round thing at 90+ mph, you’d better watch yourself.

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  27. Xeifrank says:

    If another team has a problem with what Jeter did, they should make sure the next pitch to him doesn’t miss. Don’t let the ump have any doubt next time.

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  28. Socrates says:

    This is stupid. We all speed and dont turn ourselves in. I agree that winning the game is his job. Someone made the point of the catcher framing a pitch. It is the same thing. Also that story of the Phillies stealing signs is completely crazy. Sign stealing has been part of the game forever. To my knowledge there is no rule against it and all teams know that other teams might do it. That is why the use silly looking codes to indicate steal, bunt, fastball, curve, etc.

    Just please let them play the game.

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  29. P4ri4H says:

    i’m 12 and what is this?

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  30. Judy says:

    The umpires repeatedly allow players to make fools of them by making rulings based on players’ reactions instead of basing them on what they see. If you didn’t see the ball hit the player, and he couldn’t have seen it because it never happened, then why are you calling a HBP? This isn’t a ball or strike or fair or foul where you have to make a decision one way or the other, if you didn’t see it, don’t call it.

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  31. hoser says:

    I agree with Jon in CUO that this proves the need for replays. If the replay shows an acting job, then kick the player out. The pace of play would be faster without the whole charade.

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  32. RMR says:

    I know I’m in the minority in opposing the “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” philosophy, but I recognize that you can’t put every aspect of good sportsmanship down as a rule.

    One of the great things about baseball is its built in enforcement mechanisms. If guys pull crap like that, really give them a reason to call out the trainer next time.

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    • The game’s enforcement mechanisms have been eviscerated in recent years by the heavy penalties for reciprocal beanings. If the Rays throw at Jeter the next time they play the Yankees, there’s a strong chance the pitcher will be investigated by the Commissioner’s office. There’s a serious imbalance in what teams and individual players can do to punish infractions of this nature.

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  33. Ricky says:

    If the same thing happened in the Little League World Series, I don’t think anyone would be praising the kid for trying to get an edge or brilliant gamesmanship. We teach our kids sportsmanship, that lying is wrong, and that losing honestly is better than winning dishonestly – but at some point those lessons seem to get overruled by… something. I don’t know if it’s a certain age, a certain skill level, or a certain salary, but when does cheating (or at least dishonesty) become something positive rather than negative? I’m honestly curious as to when that transition occurs. At what level of baseball, or any sport for that matter, does winning at all costs become what it’s all about? Just trying to frame this a different way – I’ve had good conversations all day today on this topic.

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    • Steve says:

      The majors??

      I have no problem with trying to hold our children to higher standards than professional athletes, as these are lessons we are trying to teach them to apply later in life in their (most-likely) non-atlethic professions.

      At the highest levels, I want to see the players I root for doing as much (within reason) as they can to win.

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  34. Dan says:

    Talk about a holier-than-thou attitude. This is so insignificant. I have not yet heard of an NBA player stop midway to the free throw stripe and say, “Mr. Official, that was clean.” Nowhere in any sport does this kind of honesty exist.

    It’s a part of the game because it doesn’t really matter. People roll their eyes at AJ because he’s an ass and no one really cares. People pat Jeter on the back because he’s seemingly a hard-working guy and no one really cares.

    Why steroids are in this conversation is beyond me. Jeter got to first base on one play in one game. Steroids changed the face of baseball; records, World Series, careers were all altered by steroids. Jeter isn’t going to double his home run total, single-handedly alter how a pitcher attacks his lineup, or erase any cherished records due to him fake taking one for the team.

    So let’s ease up on the rhetoric.

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  35. Nick says:

    Anyone who genuinely thinks this is cheating or gets upset about it is dangerously stupid.

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  36. Herman Edwards says:

    Hello? You play to win the game!

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  37. miffleball says:

    I have problem with Jeter doing what he did because I hate flopping, but there was no reason to correct an ump making an incorrect call once he sent him to first. On the other hand, if I’m Joe Maddon, I’m instructing whoever is pitching the first game of the series next week to put his first pitch to Jeter in his head as a way of saying it’s not acceptable on the field. I know this is an ozzie-like comment, but the players have to police what they view as acceptable and unacceptable. Personally, the next pitch thrown last night would have done that to granderson, but on the off chance that they were unsure, that is no longer the case.

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    • joe says:

      I’m not sure how this is “cheating”. What rule did Jeter break? I can see people calling it bush league but it’s not like he broke some baseball rule or bylaw. And a comparison to PED’s?

      Is the mere act of deceiving an ump cheating? Trapped balls where players raise their glove? Catchers framing pitches? A swipe tag with no contact and show the glove to the ump as if you tagged him? Are these all considered ‘cheating’

      Victor Martinez did almost the same exact thing a few weeks ago and nothing was said. He hit a groundball to first and he pretended it hit his foot so he could get a foulball and another swing (I think it was against the Rays too). He hopped round, the trainer ‘took a look at him” and he then proceed to get back in the batter’s box and take another swing when he should have been out.Did Martinez cheat? Was a big deal made out of it?

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    • Steve says:

      what an idiotic comment. So the penalty for faking a HBP is…attempted murder?

      If Jeter gets one on the thigh, that’s fine. But throwing at someone’s head is not even close to equal retribution. which is why it won’t happen.

      You are an idiot.

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  38. Will says:

    You can broadly define what cheater did as cheating. Of course, that also means framing pitches, selling a trap, dekeing a runner, etc. are all cheating. In fact, throwing a changeup, which is essentially trying to deceive the hitter, can be defined as cheating.

    Thankfully, we can imply common sense. Cheating is more sensibly defined as violating rules and regulations. Pretending to be hit by a pitch is not against the rules, written or unwritten.

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  39. Mallow says:

    People are making this out to be a much bigger deal than it really should be.

    Is it cheating? No, not really.

    The ump made the call and Jeter sold it. It might not be the “right” thing to do, but Jeter was helping to his team in a position to win, and that’s what a real Captain does.
    Jeter could have denied it up and down after the game and maintained that it hit him, but he didn’t. He was very upfront about the fact that the ball didn’t touch him.

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  40. Mike R. says:

    So the ump told him to go to 1st base and he complied. Where is the cheating in this?

    There is probably going to be a bigger backlash at this site as a result of the incident because Derek Jeter, with the mega hype and being a Yankee, is probably one of the most disliked players here. He obviously has his following but he antagonizes non-followers probably much more than the average Joe-schmo baseball player

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  41. Brent says:

    Late in this game on this, but I wanted to throw my 2 cents in anyways.

    From a baseball standpoint, I could careless. But, I didn’t expect this from Jeter. If cheat, you cheat doesn’t matter the severity and he’s cheater.

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  42. David G says:

    The umpire made the mistake not Jeter

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  43. What is the big deal? Cheating has been around forever, and willfully too.

    From Ty Cobb’s slashing slides with sharpened spikes, to the hidden ball trick, to the illegal spitball/emory boards/vaseline, to corked bats and PEDs (and that has actually been around forever too, amphetamines has probably been around the game since at least when the soldiers brought the drug back with them from WW II as the government used them extensively to keep the soldiers up).

    This happens in other sports too, ever seen a player flop and complain vehemently to the referee for a call? Or a ball carrier move the ball further up after the whistle? Holding? Taking out the other team’s star player with your goon? Hockey has a penalty box made for these cheaters (and other penalties), they recognize it happens.

    This was just a player taking first base on subterfuge. Not any worse than an umpire blowing a call at firstbase allowing the hitter to stay at 1B, and I doubt this type of cheating happens often enough to warrant much hand wringing over.

    I would rather see something done about umpire errors, for example, the Giants lost a win against the Mets earlier in the season due to umpire error, our runner scored at home on a close play, the ump was clearly wrong, no apologies afterward, no poignant speech about being human, the umpire was recalcitrant, saying that the catcher “made a good effort” as his reasoning for why he called the Giants runner out when I thought baseball’s rules is pretty clear that it is about who touched what first, not “good effort”. Didn’t seem important back then, maybe to some, but with that win the Giants would be in first place in the NL West right now.

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    • Oh and I meant to include this: travelling in the NBA, it used to be called but now it is almost like a right for the top stars to be able to do this whenever they want to, as long as they look good doing it for the news highlight reel.

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  44. random says:

    Cheating by using steroids and “cheating” by fooling the officials are not even in the same league. Its part of the game, always has been, and its accepted in pretty much all other aspects. A catcher who catches a pitch he knows was low and gets the K is never going to correct the official, nor should he. An outfielder who traps the ball, Posada tagging out the runner at home with an empty glove. Its part of every professional sport.

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    • chuckb says:

      Cheating is cheating. Jeter cheated. I wonder why we care sometimes when players cheat and don’t care at other times. Why is there all the sanctimony regarding PED users and yet Gaylord Perry is seen as a character? I think this is the point Alex is trying to make. People go crazy when Arod tries to knock the ball out of a player’s glove but are indifferent when Jeter cheats to try and get on base. When should we care about cheating in sports? Weren’t Jeter’s actions yesterday a poor role model for children — in fact, as poor as Arod’s or McGwire’s PED use?

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      • AndrewYF says:

        You’re right, cheating is cheating. Next time you try to bluff in Texas Hold’em, it’s the chair for you buddy.

        Hey, it’s what you want!

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      • Steve says:

        Except Jeter did not “cheat”. There is a difference between “not acting with the highest level of sportsmanship” and “cheating”.

        Jeter did NOT break any rules of the game.

        There seems to be a lot of confusion around that distinction on a site dedicated to baseball fans.

        Just b/c you didn’t act “sportsmanlike” does not necessarily mean you broke any rules.

        Jeter can act all he wants, but the umpire is not obligated to award him 1st base. The fact that the umpire let Jeter’s performance influence his call is not Jeter’s fault.

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  45. Bender says:

    I think a lot of people are missing the point. The point here is that people are reacting to this awfully differently than they did to Pierzynski, not that what Jeter did is right or wrong

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    • Will says:

      But why is that even an issue? That’s life. Some people get the benefit of the doubt, and some people don’t.

      A more interesting case study would be what happened if Colin Curtis did this last night? You know what…nobody would care.

      Jeter is widely loved, but also hated by a vocal minority. AJ is just widely hated. That’s why there is a reaction. Before getting all high on mighty on this issue, we should all examine our own biases.

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      • joe says:

        Spot on, and to prove your point a similar thing happened with Victor Martinez a while back (also against the Rays I think)

        He pretended to foul a ball off his foot to extend an AB (it was a groundball to 1st – replays show the ball just hit the dirt right in front of his foot). He hopped around and even had a trainer look at him (sound familiar?). Noone cared probably because VMart is not a polarizing figure like AJ or a widely loved player like Jeter.

        No call for replay, no criticism of sportsmanship.

        I do disagree with the Colin Curtis example – people would probably still be talking about it because there is also the Yankee love/hate factor. If it was Jason Bartlett there would be no discussion.

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      • Steve says:

        Jeter is the captain of the evil $200M bohemoth yankees. V-Mart is the backstop for the gritty, scrappy, backwater small market $170M Red Sox.

        Apples and Oranges. That’s why people are treating them differently.

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  46. Dan says:

    By that logic close to every player in the league is a cheater. At least all the catchers, who all frame pitches to some degree. But to some degree doesn’t matter, because apparently anyone who cheats at all would be considered a grade-A Barry Bonds to some.

    Another quick note: Players are also supposed to make an effort to get out of the way of pitches. Not a factor in the majors, but me and my piss poor avg in little league was often advised to not shy away from too many inside pitches by coaches. Point is, this mentality is part of the game from the earliest stages, and it’s not a big deal. This was the lesson right after they taught me to frame pitches. We all still got pizza postgame, too. I don’t think the coaches were much different anywhere else in the country.

    They didn’t tell me to start juicing, though.

    A line has to be drawn somewhere, but this is too clear a distinction to waste the time.

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  47. pinball1978 says:

    Frankly, I’d prefer an attitude like in golf, where honesty is respected and excessive, especially those obviously rehearsed, shows of triumph were seen as the distracting idiocy that they always are.
    The best real choice is between allowing in-play, on-the-field cheating (like Jeter’s here or sign-stealing, quick pitching, etc.) and off-field cheating (sign-stealing by non-roster members).
    Banning the annoying celebrations of each and every home run, and perhaps banning excessive jewelry (one ring plus any marriage/engagement ring, plus one religious – or other superstitious – item) would make me have more respect for most players as well, but ain’t gonna happen.

    Of course, using golf as an example invites humorous ridicule, but so be it

    — Channeling Abe Simpson

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    • Jason B says:

      Those crazy kids and their “excessive jewelry”!! ONE RING + ONE SUPERSTITIOUS TALISMAN ONLY!! I didn’t come to watch Mister T play ball!

      Sincerely,
      Off-topic angry coot

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  48. phoenix says:

    i agree that jeter is being more credit than he is due. it was dishonest, but there are much much worse things he could do… like steroids. and little things like this happen all the time. a catcher trying to frame a ball that he knows was not in the zone ( you can’t tell me that every single last time the catcher does actually think its is a strike), or an outfielder trapping a ball and then pretending like he caught it. or to make it even more apt for jeter, he heard the out call and then didnt say anything. the ump told jeter to take his base and so jeter acted like his hand was hurt and the play was not overturned. and what about the last batter (forget his name) that was really out a broke up the perfect game? no one said anything about him, even though he was clearly out and must have known it. and there it ruined a perfect game on the last out when they werent going to win. everyone allows an ump or ref to make a decision in their favor without saying anything. its their job.

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    • Steve says:

      wait, what? How was the player at all responsible for Galarraga’s perfect game? What could he possibly have done differently? As a player, you can’t ask for a play to be overturned. What a wierd argument.

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      • AndrewYF says:

        He could have run slower so the ump could get a clearer view. Clearly, him running all-out to try and beat out a groundball was to deceive the umpire into thinking he actually beat it out.

        Kick him out of the game!

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  49. Doogolas says:

    If someone on my team didn’t try to sell a HBP I would be pissed as hell at them. I can’t stand when player’s don’t try to sell it. AJP and him aren’t the only ones to sell a BS HBP. in a game against the Cubs there was a lefty up (I want to say Heyward but I am absolutely not certain at all) the ball CLEARLY hit the ground in front of him and he hopped around and the umpire gave him first base.

    Sure, I was pissed. But I’d be completely full of shit if I said I wouldn’t want every single player on my team doing the same thing.

    Furthermore, players know damn well when they trap a ball. And I can say from experience that players absolutely know when they get a “phantom tag” call.

    And even more than that, catchers know damn well when they successfully frame a pitch that shouldn’t be a strike. And batters know when a pitch they turn away from is a strike, but they will turn away from an inside fastball to try to sell it as being inside. Sometimes they get the call. But none of these players are going to turn around and go, “Hey blue, that was a strike/ball” when they got the call in their favor. I don’t even think it’s cheating. For Pierzynski or anyone else. *shrug*

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  50. Joe says:

    What Jeter did was incredibly bush, mainly because he tried to sell it and acted like such a p**sy. He should have just gone to first base when instructed to do so and stopped with the World Cup-esque flopping.

    I think, down at the heart of things, people take offense to this because, as noted above, people KNOW that if it was A-rod, people would go nuts. I find A-rod to be sort of a doucher, and don’t really care for him, but let’s be honest: if he did this he would get CRUSHED by everyone.

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  51. Wraithpk says:

    Bottom line: If a Pirates player did this, no one would care, nor be talking about it today. Since it was a Yankees player, people have to make a big deal. Seriously, the play should have been a short clip on Sportscenter during the recap of the game, but instead they decided to talk about it for like 15 minutes, and had freakin NASCAR drivers and football players giving their comments on it. Really guys?

    There is no rule against acting in baseball. Jeter never went to the umpire and said, “That ball hit me on my arm.” If the ump hadn’t awarded him first base, Jeter wouldn’t have argued, but since he was awarded first base, do you want him to be like, “Uhh, gee Mr. Umpire, I’ve gotta be honest with ya, that ball didn’t really hit me, so I’ll just take an out instead?” No, that would hurt his team’s chances. Jeter didn’t cheat: his bat was not corked, he’s not juicing, etc. What he did was a normal part of sportsmanship in the game. And besides, the play ended up having no impact on the outcome of the game, so why the heck is everyone talking about it?

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  52. frank says:

    Runner caught in a rundown.

    He sees a fielder who peels off after a throw a few feet away from him. We all know what happens next…

    The runner veers from his current path by a few feet in order to intentionally make contact with the fielder and then throw his hands up in the air or stumbles to “sell it” to the ump as interference.

    How many times have folks seen this occur? (Victorino, AJ, etc) Is the runner actually being interfered with or is he the one causing the interference? When he throws his hands up is that a normal reaction of bumping into someone or an action meant to sell the play to the umpire?

    How would this type of play be described? Is pretending to be interfered with in a rundown (and the selll job to the ump) and different than pretending to be hit by a pitch (and a sell job to the ump). Isn’t it usually described as a heady play, or good baseball sense?

    Apparently many on here would think this is cheating and a lack of integrity too?

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  53. Jason says:

    I think this is ridiculous. I see this as no different than any other blown call by the umpire. If Jeter misses a tag at second base and the ump calls the player out and Jeter fails to correct the umpire, is that cheating? Of course not. Its part of the game. If Jeter attempts to check his swing but fails to, but the first base umpire misses the call, should Jeter say “no, no, I really did swing”, or should he act like he didn’t swing?

    How is this any different? Jeter absolutely did not cheat. The umpires just blew the call and it happened to benefit Jeter. I watched the game and there were other blown calls as there are in every single game and they go both ways.

    What next? Are we going to criticize catchers for attempting to “frame” pitches just off the plate. After all, they are trying to influence the umpire with their actions.

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  54. Sal says:

    Jeter is on par with Pete Rose and should never be allowed in the Hall.

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  55. Justin says:

    There is no honor in faking injury to get a call.

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  56. Justin says:

    Bottom line is if you are for players faking injury to get a call, then you should be alright with this. If not, then you are against this.

    This isn’t about catcher’s framing pitches or players trapping line drives.

    It simple for or against faking injury to get a call.

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  57. pft says:

    In these days with replay, cheating like this is easily confirmed. The umpire knows the player made a fool of him. One day he will get his revenge, or one of his buddies will, might even happen in the playoffs..

    I think players who obviously try and deceive the umpire by faking being hurt and delaying the game with the trainer coming out should be suspended or fined.

    Catchers who move their glove after catching the ball trying to get a strike call, or OF’ers who pretend to catch a FB they trapped is fine, since the umpire is in a better position to see this and get the call right.

    Letting an umpire get the call wrong and taking first on a HBP when it is a foul is also ok, but delaying the game to get a call by faking an injury is not OK.
    .

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  58. MV says:

    Nobody expects you to tell the umpire you weren’t hit by a pitch, but faking an injury AFTER umpire signaled you were HBP .. isn’t that kinda lame when you think about it?

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  59. sc0regasm says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Price make sure he gets the HBP he deserves in the next game they play against each other…..

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  60. bill says:

    This is no more “cheating” than a basketball player selling a phantom foul or a QB in football falling down to get a free penalty. This is a perfect reason for replay by the way, because this play could have been resolved in about 30 seconds with replay.

    Also, pretty lame move by Jeter to call the trainer out. Sell the HBP if you want (lots of players do), but don’t call the trainer out if you didn’t even get hit. I know pretty much everybody loves Saint Jeter, but if pretty much anyone but Jeter did this (and a few other guys I guess, Pujols, Utley, Pedroia, etc.) everyone would be all over them. And God forbid, if A-Rod did this, we’d be making fun of him for months.

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  61. awayish says:

    140 comments on a nonstory, stay classy, fangraphs readers.

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    • verd14 says:

      It’s actually quite compelling and very much a fangraphs article. Alex raised an interesting issue about how the media and fans “perceive” player A vs player B. A good change of pace from all that talk of WAR if you ask me….

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  62. Matt says:

    Everyone needs to stop calling it cheating; it’s not cheating.

    There’s nothing in the rules that says Jeter has to admit he wasn’t hit. The decision is solely to be made by the umpire and it was.

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    • David says:

      yeah I completely agree. I’m an Orioles fan but this is completely stupid. when I was playing rec league baseball in elementary school, one time a ball bounced off the dirt and off my foot. the ump sent me to 1B – I knew the rules but I wasn’t about to question his decision. if my 7 year old self was capable of doing it, there’s no way I’m going to blame Jeter, whose actions affect not just himself, not just his teammates, but all the Yankee fans in the world, for accepting the free walk.

      the only part that’s a bit annoying is the faking injury, but as a soccer fanatic I can’t really complain about that either.

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  63. Andrew says:

    No one should have a problem with Jeter “cheating.” That is not cheating.

    What I do have a big problem with is Jeter faking injury. Grabbing his wrist like it’s broken and going on with the trainer is simply un-called for. It’s impossible to argue otherwise. I bet just about everyone here hates how European soccer players fake injuries all the time. This is no different and it deserves to be condemned. There is no room for faking injuries in American sports.

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  64. A.B. says:

    Why does this bother everyone? Faking is a part of every sport and it’s fun. Who cares? It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to do. When I play soccer, I love yelling out one guy’s name, watching the defenders flock to him, and passing to someone completely different. The difference in baseball is that the spotlight is almost always on either the batter or the pitcher, so faking takes a little more effort and looks a little worse.

    Players flop in soccer, players flop in basketball, football players gouge each other’s eyes out in the pile, outfielders try to sell trapped balls as catches, catchers frame pitches….who cares? AJP didn’t do anything wrong and neither did Jeter. It’s a game, the players are performers, and it’s fun to watch. If you don’t like it, let’s get instant replay.

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  65. Jeremy says:

    Being a Rays fan I guess I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here:

    (1) I think Jeter was already awarded first base before the “acting” started in ernest
    (2) Everyone but the home plate umpire heard the ball hit the bat so…
    (3) Maddon did the right thing by arguing the call with the umpire rather than arguing the “acting” with Jeter
    (4) Jeter’s “acting” didn’t impact the home plate umpire’s decision to award him first base (IMO), but it probably probably did impact the umpires’ reaction to Maddon a few seconds later when Maddon was arguing the call while the Yankees Trainer was “laying hands” on Jeter in the background
    (5) Quall’s pitch was Inside to Jeter, I don’t imagine Jeter will square up against Qualls again soon, but we can probably guess the outcome if he does…

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  66. Eric says:

    The rule Derek Jeter broke, for those who have been inquiring:

    Rule 9.01(d): “Each umpire has authority to disqualify any player … for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

    It is not sportsmanlike to take advantage of your opponent when he or she has been unfairly hindered. Bobby Jones regularly informed referees in the NBA that they were mistaken when calls were made in his favor. Derek Jeter could easily do the same, were he so inclined. It has been empirically demonstrated that he is not.

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  67. Seideberg says:

    I wrote my Master’s Thesis on Morality in Sports, and let me just say that it’s very dangerous to judge the “morality” or “character” of a person within very specific contexts. Just because Derek Jeter was willing to bend the rules a little, to get himself a free pass to first base, doesn’t necessarily say anything about his overall moral personhood, except that in this particular context, he is willing to do what he did, for the advantage it gives his team. There are very few sports-specific contexts (like golf) where players police themselves, and most athletes and coaches in other sports, especially team sports, believe it is the job of the official to police the rules. Every action, moral or nonmoral, must be judged within the context of where that action took place. Moral “stage theory” is pretty much dead at this point as a working theory.

    Meh, I hate diving in soccer, thought Jeter’s action was pretty silly, and the Yankees trainer running out was even sillier, but I also get equally annoyed at the Jeter deification in the media, and demonization by the readers on this site and JoPos’s blog.

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  68. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Jeter’s issue here is his honesty. He could have tossed out the standard response, “the ump said it hit me, so it hit me,” or he could have lied, but instead he admitted the fraud.

    Kudos to Jeter for an honest admission.

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  69. turrdog says:

    No different than a runner faking a leg injury so the pitcher/catcher think he probably won’t go. Or a pitcher intentionally using a ball that’s been scuffed in the dirt and not thrown away by the ump.

    How many times have you seen a guy say that a foul ball hit off his shoe before going fair just to get another hack, even though replays show differently?

    In a period of confusion by the umps, any player/manager will go to any lengths to sell his case. Between the roto geeks on this site or professionals whose career is the game of baseball, I’m glad my thought process leans toward the voices of reason.

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  70. PG says:

    Jeter didn’t cheat. Guys take a base on non-HBP’s all the time…but what makes this different to me was the exaggerated theatrics that he displayed. I’ve always had a ton of respect for Jeter, but that taints my opinion of him. It was far too “A-Rodish” for my liking.

    It’s funny by contrast to see someone like Konerko hit in the face, and attempt to refuse medical attention and then refuse to leave the game despite the trainer and manager’s pleading. So while Jeter delays the game for 10 minutes over something that didn’t happen, Konerko tries to take his base without any delay over ACTUALLY being hit in the face with a fastball. Konerko has been this way for years, yet his honorable behavior received little attention. If Jeter had done the same thing it would be the pinnacle of baseball history. Interesting.

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  71. tell it straight says:

    Most people outside of New York have always called him JETER the CHEATER. The guy has always been a dork head and always will be.

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