Jeremy Giambi: “I Purposely Slowed Down”


Breaking News — following Adam Wainwright’s comment that he grooved the pitch Derek Jeter hit for a double at this week’s All-Star Game, Jeremy Giambi revealed that he purposely slowed down back in the 2001 American League Division Series when Jeter made the “flip play” that has become one of his most iconic.

“…so I saw the ball land in right field, and Shane Spencer pick it up, and I was all set to score… but then Jeter comes out of nowhere, sets himself up to grab that relay throw– and certainly by 2001, Derek was already a huge legend in the game, and I figured, hey, what better way to pay tribute to the sport than to set him up for a defensive maneuver that could go down in history. I knew all about the arguments against his fielding– numbers, and all of that– and so I knew it would be even more valuable for him to have a play like this to buttress what was already a slam-dunk Hall of Fame case. I was running full speed, and didn’t want to hurt myself by suddenly coming to a complete stop, but I figured I could try my best to put on the brakes– and even if I was risking injury a little bit, it was worth it to help make Derek Jeter into a legend. I tried to catch his glance– and in a single, career-defining moment for me, Derek Jeter looked at me– actually looked at me, the way we all dream Derek Jeter will look at us, his eyes boring a hole deep into my soul– and I used my eyes to communicate a message. “Flip that ball,” my right eye said, “and you will get me out,” my left eye added. And I used all of the muscle power inside of me to put the brakes on as quickly as I could– and, just as I’d intended, Jorge’s tag got me.

“He never said thank you. I mean, he sent me a gift basket, but he sends that to all of his opponents after every game, so it was hard to feel special just from that. But I know he knew, and I know that deep down he must feel that same admiration for me as I felt for him. And I’m proud that even though my major league career did not go as well as I’d dreamed it would, I will always be part of history as the man who purposely slowed down so that Derek Jeter could make a career-defining play.

“I also threatened to have Byung-Hyun Kim’s visa revoked if he didn’t throw Jeter a batting practice fastball in the World Series that year, so I should get credit for that too.

“And in 2012, I invented a time machine and only let Derek Jeter use it.”

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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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Calvin Schiraldi
Calvin Schiraldi

Ya know, I never forgot about the team that selected me in the first round …