Jeter Reignites Debate Over Instant Replay for Baseball

Jeter the Cheater? That may be a new nickname for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who admitted that he faked getting hit by a Chad Qualls fastball in Wednesday night's 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "Fortunately for us, it paid off at the time," Jeter told the press after the game, which had pennant-race implications. "But I would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game."

Oh, Derek, you're already a big story. In fact, the Internet is alive with this story, and The New York Times called Jeter's acting job an "Emmy-worthy performance." TV analyst Tim Kurkijian used terms like "genius" and "brilliant," and even Rays manager Joe Maddon - who was ejected for arguing home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale's botched call - lauded Jeter. "If our guys had did it, I would have applauded that," he told post-game reporters. "It's a great performance on his part. Several players are very good at that. And again, I'm not denigrating it. If our guy does it, I'm very happy with that if we end up getting the call."

Fans don't necessarily agree. A USA Today poll - titled "Is Jeter a cheater or a gamer?" - had logged more than 6,400 votes as of 3:30 p.m. (CST) Thursday, a majority of them saying "he cheated the game."

In addition to the debate about whether Jeter tarnished his reputation with his thespian chops - and what reaction would've been had this situation involved teammate Alex Rodriguez instead - Major League Baseball's refusal to embrace instant replay is called into question yet again. A recent ESPN survey of 24 of the 30 MLB managers revealed that only two (Cleveland's Manny Acta and Arizona's Kirk Gibson) are opposed to expanding the use of instant replay, and many said they would favor a manager-challenge system similar to the one in place during this year's Little League World Series. (According to ESPN's report, in 32 LLWS games, 16 calls were reviewed. Half of those calls turned out to be wrong, and the average review took 52 seconds. The average total delay - from the moment the manager requested a review until the decision was announced - was only 1 minute, 50 seconds.) And most, but not all, of the big-league managers ESPN surveyed who were willing to get specific favored using some form of replay to make the correct calls at all four bases.

On Wednesday night, Qualls' pitch ricocheted off Jeter's bat into fair territory, and the Rays made the play at first, which would have been the second out of the seventh inning. Replays clearly show - and the audio loudly indicates - that the ball did not touch Jeter. YouTube has removed clips of the incident "due to a copyright claim by MLB Advanced Media," but the video is posted here.

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