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.”
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:
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”