Mike Matheny has company on the Hot Seat

It was bad enough that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny snubbed the best pitcher in the National league (and all of baseball) from starting the 2014 All-Star Game and instead let his guy start, but now it is being widely reported that his guy “threw” the game – literally and figuratively.

Those who watched Tuesday night’s Summer Classic on television clearly saw that Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright grooved his second pitch, a 90 MPH cut fastball, right over the middle of the plate to leadoff hitter and retiring baseball legend Derek Jeter, which the future Hall of Famer did not miss and smoked into the right field corner for a double. Jeter then scored when the next batter, Angels superstar Mike Trout, tripled over right fielder Yasiel Puig’s head. When the bottom of the first inning finally ended, Wainwright had allowed three runs to score.

Although Matheny carefully articulated his line of manure as to why he chose Wainwright over the far more deserving Clayton Kershaw to start the game during Monday morning’s pre-All-Star Game press conference, Wainwright did anything but when he was interviewed only moments after coming out of the game after his one inning of work.

“I was going to give [Jeter] a couple pipe shots,” Wainwright told reporters. “I just thought he deserved it. I didn’t know he was going to hit a double or I was going to change my mind. I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little better.”

Does this pitched look piped to you, especially from one of the best control pitchers in the game today? (Video capture courtesy of FoxSports)

Does this pitch look like a “pipe shot” to you, especially from one of the best control pitchers in the game today?
(Video capture courtesy of FoxSports)

Within minutes Twitter lit up, as baseball writers from every news outlet around the globe began posting Wainwright’s comments, including Dodgers beat reporter Mark Saxon who was present during the interview:

Wainwright Tweet

A short while later, Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal put this information over the air and as you might imagine, Wainwright’s comments caused an immediate backlash. In his own words Wainwright essentially admitted to what amounts to ‘throwing the game’ – i.e. intentionally making an easy pitch for Jeter to hit. This is no different than a boxer ‘taking a dive’ or intentionally allowing an opponent to score in basketball, hockey or soccer. This is cheating and it brings back ugly memories of the Black Sox scandal in the 1919 World Series.

If the All-Star Game were still only an exhibition game instead of determining home field advantage for the World Series then this might not be that big of a deal, but the game does have a value to it, a very significant value – not just in determining World Series home field advantage but monetary value to the team that gets that home field advantage – to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.

But wait! There’s more!

As if Wainwright’s initial comments weren’t bad enough, he made them even worse when he tried to backpedal away from them when Fox reporter Erin Andrews interviewed Wainwright in the dugout before the game ended specifically about his earlier comments.

“You know what, sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way,” said Wainwright. “I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter has done tonight or off me or anything. It was mis-said (Sic). I made a mistake by that. I hope people realize I’m not intentionally giving up hits out there. I know this game means something. I’m guessing people are thinking I’m trying to give up home runs to Miguel Cabrera, too, next.

“I’m very competitive,” Wainwright continued. “I think I said yesterday I did not want Derek Jeter to get a hit. I think I said it today even before I pitched, so, I don’t know. It’s a distraction and I did not want to be a distraction. I wanted it to be all for Derek so if anything has taken away from his moment then I sincerely apologize. At no point in my career have I ever gone out and intentionally given up hits.”

Okay, just so we’re all on the same page here, Adam Wainwright readily admitted that he was “going to give [Jeter] a couple pipe shots” because he  just thought he deserved it” but he “didn’t know he was going to hit a double” or he “was going to change my mind” (or “would have changed my mind” if you use the Saxon tweet); but later said that it was all just a big joke and that at no point in his career has he ever gone out and intentionally given up hits.”

So which is it, Adam? You can’t have it both ways.

Whether or not Bud Selig or Major League Baseball decides to investigate this remains to be seen, but they probably won’t; not because what Wainwright did wasn’t wrong, but because it would cast aspersions on Derek Jeter’s 2 for 2 night – and he most certainly doesn’t deserve that.

But I do have one question for Waino: Do you think that Clayton Kershaw or any other professional pitcher would have given Derek Jeter a couple of “pipe shots?”

I didn’t think so.

By the way, when asked if he was aware that Wainwright had grooved a pitch to him, Derek Jeter smiled and replied as only Derek Jeter would.

“If he grooved it, thank you.. I appreciate it”

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7 Responses to “Mike Matheny has company on the Hot Seat”

  1. I have to say, his comments were quite bizarre. He was definitely caught in a lie. Extreme back-peddling on a bicycle that was falling apart. I get that he was trying to give Jeter a few pitches to hit but he doesn’t need any extra help. What adds insult to injury is that although Wainwright’s numbers are comparable (imagine what Kershaw’s numbers would have looked like without those early starts returning from the DL), Kershaw has been absolutely dominant and is deservedly receiving comparisons to the greats of all time. He should have been on that mound to start the game. Period. The Dodgers could have used home field advantage this year and instead it was frittered away while Matheny & Co. were tossing roses at Jeter. Ughhh!

  2. KSparkuhl says:

    Just finished watching the replay of Derek Jeter’s standing ovation before his first at bat last night. If that baseball moment, right there, didn’t provide enough goose bumps for you, then I don’t know… perhaps baseball just isn’t in your blood. It was a very emotional moment, indeed.

    One thing I love about national baseball telecasts is that you can practically hear everything on the field when the parabolic microphones are pointed at a player or location on the field… and you can hear it right in your own living room, loud and clear, especially when you crank up the volume. Last night was special because this was Jeter’s final All-Star Game, and the microphone keyed in on something that I’m certain very few people even heard.

    Just as Jeter was stepping into the batter’s box, he turns to Jonathan Lucroy and says, “Okay, let’s do it.” A slight pause, then, “…I don’t want to know what he throws, I don’t even want to know what the signals are.” Oh, really? This suggests that Jeter was well aware he’d be getting a fat pitch to hit. Now why would he think that? Well, that’s because it’s happened before in the All-Star Game… but Chan Ho Park never flat-out admitted to grooving a pitch to Cal Ripken Jr, he just did so and then never said another word about it. Why? Out of respect, that’s why. But to tell the national media you just threw a “pipe shot” to the great Derek Jeter was a flat out, bush league mistake. It was very disrespectful to Derek Jeter, and very disrespectful to the game.

    And thanks to Mike Matheny, the potential All-Star matchup between Derek Jeter and Clayton Kershaw will only take root in our imaginations.

  3. OldBrooklynFan says:

    The worst thing is Wainright saying that he grooved one to Jeter. That was really a dumb thing to say. Just saying it is the real crime, no matter how much he tries to apologies for saying it. Jeter is one of the greatest hitters of all time and doesn’t need any help.
    As far as the loss is concerned, the goal, for the Dodgers right now, is to get to the World Series first before they are concerned with home-field advantage.

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