16 July 2014

The Adam Wainwright-Derek Jeter pitch controversy is ridiculous

One of the more bizarre controversies in recent sports memory unfolded tonight in what was shaping to be a great moment for a retiring legend. Derek Jeter, as mentioned earlier amid an epic fail, was starting his final All-Star Game and was batting in the lead off position against National League starter Adam Wainwright. Jeter, who went two for two in the ballgame, lined a misfired Wainwright pitch into right field for a double. Cool moment, right?

Well, Wainwright made some comments to reporters about that pitch. And that is where we begin.

Here's Yahoo's Jeff Passan:
As you would expect, this caught the eye of some. Now had Wainwright not said anything about it, no big deal. Sure some fooligans on the internet would have speculated about it, as has long been rumored what Park did to Ripken in the 2001 All-Star Game. But with Wainwright commenting on the matter, that makes it something. Now people would go back and look at the pitch itself and see if there were any notable differences in the speed of the pitch, had it missed the spot, etc.

Now one could make the point as to who cares if Wainwright did groove a pitch for Jeter. Well first, I don't think Jeter, or pretty much any major leaguer, would appreciate a pitcher giving them some sort of a gift as it could be seen as an attempt to take something away from the hitter in the name of competition. And also, in an age that the All-Star Game helps decide who gets homefield advantage in the World Series, an awful idea no matter which way you spin it, every pitch, every hit, and every run counts. Considering that Jeter scored thanks to a triple by Mike Trout, which was then followed by a two-run Miguel Cabrera homer that gave the American League an early 3-0 lead which would turn into a 5-3 victory, a grooved pitch may have played a key part in the Junior Circuit getting to host that critical fourth home game in the World Series.

But Wainwright tried to explain himself, saying it was all for laughs. Cue this awkward interview with Fox's Erin Andrews:

So now Wainwright was joking. Considering the fact that his account does not jibe with the accounts of those on hand for his original remarks, his form of an apology somewhat fails to bring some closure to this incident. His attempt at a clarification was anything but and his attempts to blame "social media" for comments that he made, and were transcribed by reporters he was speaking to, comes off as awkward at best and lame at worst.

One would presume that Wainwright was trying to give Jeter a "moment" but if anything with his inane comments, or poor attempt at humor, he helped to make himself the center of attention for something that should have belonged to his adversary at the dish. And at the very least, it led to hot take after hot take that will extend as we enter the slowest sporting date on the calendar.