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In case you haven’t heard (person who lives under a rock, on Mars), Derek Jeter will be retiring after this season. So everyone knew what the deal would be at the MLB All-Star Game — one big, huge Jeter love-fest. However, the starting pitcher for the National League, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, may have been showing a little too much deference to the Yankees shortstop. He certainly showed too much willingness to talk about it.
Jeter was picked to lead off the game for the American League, and he got a huge ovation when he stepped into the batters’ box. Always one to live up to the moment — even as a fan could be clearly heard on the telecast yelling “Overrated!” — Jeter proceeded to swat a double.
Great moment! Except for the fact that, later in the game, reports emerged that Wainwright had said that he deliberately threw a couple of easy pitches for Jeter to hit.
— Patrick Borzi (@BorzMN) July 16, 2014
Waino: “I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it. I didn’t know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind.” — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 16, 2014
It’s true that giving a batter, even an accomplished hitter such as Jeter, a fastball down the middle doesn’t mean the batter will automatically do something productive with it. But it’s also true that admitting you did that automatically makes you a target for derision, both for detracting from Jeter’s magical moment and for the fact that something meaningful was at stake in this game (home-field advantage in the World Series).
Wainwright says he grooved a couple to Jeter. Maybe ‘bush’ to do it. But worse to SAY you did it. Ruins moment you conspired to create. Dope — Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) July 16, 2014
Somebody remind Wainwright, if the Cardinals lose Game 7 of the World Series in the AL ballpark, that he grooved one for Jeter in Minnesota. — Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) July 16, 2014
Interestingly, before the game Cal Ripken said he had the feeling that “once the game starts, we’re going to see something pretty cool from [Jeter].” Ripken had been sought out for comment because of his experience being celebrated at the 2001 all-star game in Seattle, when the Orioles legend was in his own final season. At that game, Ripken sent the crowd into ecstasy by hitting the first pitch he saw into the seats for a very memorable home run. Great moment! Except that some feel that the pitcher who faced Ripken, Chan Ho Park, deliberately tossed Cal a meatball. If he did, however, at least Park has had the good sense to keep quiet about it.