Two years ago it was Derek Jeter, who won an Academy Award for best fake hit by pitch.
Now it’s Dewayne Wise, who got way too much benefit of the doubt when the umpire credited him with catching a ball in foul territory that the Yankees outfielder did not catch.
Pardon the Interruption featured the incident, with Tony Kornheiser coming down on the side of truth and justice, while co-host Michael Wilbon merely opined this is the Major Leagues not Little League, therefore, I suppose, sportsmanship and honesty are not longer in play, so to speak.
I love stories in other sports, such as golf and tennis, where an athlete fesses up, even at the risk of losing the event and money. Is it because baseball is a team sport that the offender is reluctant to come forward? Because he doesn’t want to let down the team?
Wise’s cop-out: “It’s not my fault” the umpire messed up.
Wise said, “Anybody in baseball would’ve done the same thing,” which is probably true and the problem. “The umpire makes the out call — you’ve got to go with it,” he continued. “You can’t just sit there and say, ‘I didn’t make the catch.’” Sure you can. Someone has got to go first.
Wouldn’t you just love, just once, for a team or player to say, “We don’t have to win this way?” But with so much money at stake (imagine if this had cost the Yankees the game and they lost a post-season berth by that margin), you can be almost certain it will never happen.
And don’t you just love this rationale from Yankees catcher Chris Stewart who said yesterday, “You’re trying to get your team to win. You’re not really cheating, necessarily.” It’s that qualifier “necessarily” that does it for me.
So what are we teaching young athletes here? That it’s all right to pull stunts like this, so you might as well get used to it and perfecting this aspect of your game. And if it’s okay here, it’s okay in other aspects of life, too, for where would you start differentiating?