When Athletes Take a Dive

And the award goes to … your favorite athlete.

Much has been said, and criticized, about New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s acting performance during Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Some say it was unethical, that he manipulated the rules of baseball. Others are even calling Jeter, arguably a Hall of Fame lock, pulling a cheat that will tarnish his career of five World Series titles, .314 career batting average, 11 All Star selections and 2,905 hits and counting.

Fans pointing fingers and cursing Jeter — he does play for the Yankees, after all — may be the easy solution, but it’s just denial. It means they’re ignoring act jobs in other sports.

These dives have been happening, not only in baseball, but every sport for years.

Soccer players are the most notorious for them, though accepted as norm for a match. Don’t be surprised if all the nominees for the Best Actor Oscar come from this past summer’s Wold Cup.

Boxers aren’t much better since they take more dives than professional swimmers.

Yet baseball, because of all its controversy and Roid-Rage black eyes, gets a bad wrap.

Instead, others get free passes because it’s more commonplace or brings in billions of dollars.

Instead of trying to play defense, many NBA players are just trying to draw fouls.

Even basketball players. Does everyone turn a blind eye from the dives taken nightly? Do fans watch with rose-colored glasses as a flop job results in a foul and a turnover? A screen roll might as well be played with bowling pins as easily as a point guard will spill to the hardwood.

There’s a reason NBA mop boys will never be out of a job.

Say goodbye to Hollywood

First off, let me just say, Bravo, Derek. Those acting lessons are really paying off, and those years of dating actresses — including now being engaged to Minka Kelly — have also paid off.

I’m also going to applaud you, Derek, for doing what any smart athlete player would, and should do: whatever it takes to win.

Good players work at the sport.

The great ones know how to make the sport work for them.

Just ask Rays manager Joe Maddon.

“If our guys had done it, I would’ve applauded it, too,” Maddon said after the game he watched the from his clubhouse office after getting ejected for arguing the call. “It was a great performance.”

Maddon, always a good quote, probably would change his tune if, say, Alex Rodriguez or A.J. Pierzynski had received the Best Actor Award on Wednesday.

Part of Derek Fisher's greatness is his ability to turn a bump into an offensive foul.

But this makes baseball players are a bunch of fakes, cheats? Is that writing already on the wall because of the legends written out of history instead of being a part of it?

How about every time Derek Fisher is on the floor? Take a look at a reel of NBA highlights and you’ll probably find your favorite baller dropping on the deck and flopping like a fish.

Jeter’s performance, while believable, was beneath him. Just like its under every professional that’s where amazing happens.

The only thing amazing is watching fans get mad at one player and not another. Seeing them get furious and fed up with one sport, but embrace a controversial play of another.

Sometimes that’s amazing.

Though the glitz from Tinseltown usually does blind most people.

Coming soon

Sports are like movies, and vice versa.

Even the sports movies, each has its own drama, its own cast of characters and storylines. But with movies, we’ve accepted that it’s fake, even when based on a true story. An acting job is an acting job, as long as it moves us.

Let’s be straight though with sports. These dives, while dishonest and mind-boggling, can’t be chastised. It has to be fair — one sport can’t bear the weight of being cheats, when another athlete, just as good an actor, obviously passes the torch as the league’s top center by dropping to the ground instead of trying to d-up an opponent.

Fans have to stop being indecisive. Either have these plays banned or accept them, because every sport has them.

For the record, most sports have fouls on dives/act jobs, especially soccer, which deals out yellow cards (and sometimes red ones) for the blatantly obvious.

Taking into account these performances, maybe that’s why athletes long to be actors, even retire early to get their name on a marquee.

How’s that Oscar look next to that Super Bowl ring, Jim Brown?

The point is fans can’t have it both ways. One player can’t have a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card, while another is put on the Sport’s Green Mile.

“What am I supposed to do?'” Jeter said before Friday’s game against Baltimore. “Say, “I’m sorry sir, but it didn’t hit me, please let me continue to hit?’ I didn’t call it. What am I supposed to do?”

Give your acceptance speech.

It is, by the way, all part of this game.

About Mike Camunas

Mike Camunas is a freelance reporter that has done work for nearly every major newspaper in Florida and worked for the Associated Press for nearly four years. Camunas has covered just about anything you can name, from the 2008 World Series, to bowl games, to NIT Games to the NFL Postseason, to PGA and Champions Tour events.

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One comment

  1. Just watched that video of Jeter… that was ridiculous.

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