Plenty of controversy was created late in Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game, when FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Adam Wainwright had made comments to reporters about serving up a couple “pipe shots” to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, insinuating that he took it easy on the 40-year-old in his final All-Star Game.
He later retracted those comments with FOX’s Erin Andrews, saying that he was joking and didn’t mean any of it, and Andrews, for no particular reason in particular, blamed the controversy on “social media”. Members of the Cardinals’ “best fans in baseball” contingent immediately went after anyone who suggested that, possibly, Wainwright may have had a hint of seriousness in his comments, saying that he’s always sarcastic with the St. Louis media and the national media simply couldn’t understand.
But after seeing actual, complete video (courtesy of KTVI FOX 2 in St. Louis) of Wainwright’s post-outing meeting with the media, it’s easy to think that there might have been at least a hint of seriousness in his comments:
He mentions “giving him one to hit” on two separate occasions, without any substantially sarcastic facial expressions. Obviously you can tell that he was poking fun at himself for giving up the double to Jeter, but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of sarcasm on his part.
If you need further proof, consider the location on the first two pitches from Wainwright, a pitcher who has long been praised for his spectacular control:
Wainwright is widely known as one of the good guys in Major League Baseball. So in his defense, we have to admit that it was kind of inappropriate for Major League Baseball to put this type of responsibility on him in the first place. In a game that is supposed to count and has World Series home field advantage at stake, there was an unbelievable amount of emphasis placed on paying tribute to Jeter in his last All-Star Game. Things really stopped being fair the second that the extended standing ovation began for Jeter, and Wainwright had no other option but to put the ball and his glove on the mound and applaud for the man he was shortly expected to send back to the dugout.
The concept of having the All-Star Game determine home field is no worse than the previous policy of having it rotate by year, plus it puts meaning into the game that is widely regarded as the best All-Star Game in sports. But when this kind of sideshow is created, it’s kind of unfair to expect the game to be played really competitively.
Under normal circumstances, it would be reasonable for MLB to thoroughly investigate the situation and hand out discipline if they found the allegations to be true. But in a situation where it was pretty much lose-lose for Wainwright, he deserves a break– as well as a relative reprieve for pitching poorly after getting caught up in the Jeter tribute. While the comments he made probably were not the wisest, Wainwright ultimately did what was right on a night that so many people wanted to be Jeter’s.