Posted on July 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM
Friday, Jul 18 at 4:48 PM
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright’s “piping” a pitch to Derek Jeter in the All-Star Game has developed into an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved.
Wainwright didn’t do anything wrong, except perhaps admitting to the media that he gave Jeter a fat pitch in the first inning. “I was going to give him a couple pipe shots," Wainwright said in an interview during the AL's 5-3 win. "He deserved it."
Jeter did deserve it as a “thank you” for 20 outstanding years in the major leagues. Nobody would have had a problem with Waino giving Jeter something nice to hit in an exhibition game. The problem of course, is that the All-Star Game is an exhibition game that has something to say about who the eventual champion will be at the end of the season. Home field advantage in the World Series is at stake, so grooving a pitch to help a player from the American League could come back to haunt the Cardinals, or whoever else wins the National League pennant. Jeter’s first inning double led to a three run rally for the American League.
Major League Baseball began to make the All-Star Game count after the embarrassment of the 2002 ASG ending in a tie. Interest in the game was already eroding, and a tie certainly didn’t help the situation. So partly out of embarrassment, and in an effort to regenerate interest, Commissioner Bud Selig decided to make the All-Star Game determine the home field advantage in the World Series.
The concept stinks. Is it an exhibition, or isn’t it? Seemed like an exhibition with managers constantly subbing players into the game. Or when National League players clapped when Jeter stepped to the plate in the first inning. That’s what snagged Wainwright. He was trying to do something out of respect to one of the game’s great players, and wound up causing a controversy he never intended to induce. "What I meant to say was I'm intentionally trying to throw a strike to get him out.,” said Wainwright after the game. “It's what I do most of the time, almost all the time. Piping one' is the wrong window for that. It really is. If I'm going to get taken to the slaughterhouse for saying a stupid phrase, then I deserve it. What can you do?"
What a mess. Wainwright tried to do something nice in the spirit of the moment, and now he’s the bad guy. It doesn’t have to be this way. Bud Selig is retiring after this season. Hopefully one of the first moves his successor makes will be to eliminate awarding the winning league with home field advantage in the World Series. The All Star needs to remain just an exhibition.