OK, so I am 0-for-2 in my trips to the new Yankee Stadium, our beloved New York Yankees having been beaten both times I have gone to see them play this season.
I see from some of Monday evening's comments that some of you guys want me banned from the ballpark. I know that deep down you really do love me, but you have nothing to fear. I have no more trips to the Stadium planned, and for me August will largely be devoted to Giants' training camp. So, no more blaming me.
Plenty of blame for Marty Foster today, though. And second base umpire Wally Bell.
I have to tell you that lots of the conversation on the bus coming home Monday night was people wanting to get a look at a replay of the Derek Jeter play at third. My seats were down the left field line, and you could clearly see the ball beating Jeter to the bag. From that distance you couldn't tell about the tag. Jeter's on-field reaction -- the first time I have ever seen him aggressively go after an umpire -- told me enough. His candid post-game reaction blew me away.
It wasn't the call that rankled the captain. It was the reasoning he received from third-base umpire Marty Foster, who said that Jeter was out simply because the ball had beaten him.
"I was just baffled by the explanation," Jeter said. "I was told I was out, because the ball beat me, and he didn't have to tag me. I was unaware they had changed the rules."
Jeter had walked to lead off the home half of the first inning against Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero, and he advanced to second on a balk before attempting a steal of third. Catcher Rod Barajas' throw beat Jeter's headfirst slide, but television replays showed that Jeter might have moved his hands away from Jays third baseman Scott Rolen's tag.
"I just pulled my hands back and got called out," Jeter said. "I've seen everybody make mistakes on calls before, but I was baffled by the explanation."
Jeter immediately jumped up and confronted Foster, saying he hadn't been tagged by Rolen.
"He told me, 'He didn't have to,'" Jeter said. "I'm not making this up. This is what I was told."
Props to crew chief John Hirschbeck -- I can't say 'kudos' even though it's my word -- since Pete Abe already used it after the game Monday (damn you, Pete, stop stealing from me and get your own schtick!) for candidly discussing the misfortunes of his fellow umpires Monday.
"It would make (Jeter’s) actions seem appropriate if that’s what he was told," Hirschbeck said. "The best way I can answer it is to talk to Marty about it. "Not here at the ballpark, but if I see him tonight, or if not, we’ll have lunch tomorrow and we’ll discuss it. Getting a play right is one thing, but how you handle it is also important. Nowadays, with the cameras, ESPN and the reporters, I say the media, I actually mean television — it used to be if the ball beat you, you were out, but it isn’t that way anymore. It’s not a reason to call someone out. You have to make a good tag."
Hirschbeck admitted Jeter doesn’t argue very often.
"Yes, in my 27 years in the big leagues, he is probably the classiest person I’ve been around," he said.
Hirschbeck was asked about two plays that second base umpire Wally Bell got wrong.
"Sometimes, you just miss a play," Hirschbeck said. "I think you’re human, and sometimes you just miss it."
In the end, though, it's kind of tough to complain. The Yankees had won 10 of 11, including three straight from Toronto before Monday.
As for the Jeter play, it's rare to criticize DJ's baserunning, but he should not have been trying to steal third in that spot, anyway. Ultimately, that inning is what cost the Yankees the game.