On what is traditionally one of the slowest days of the sports calendar, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright threw chum in the water for all the TV and radio debate shows, when he said about facing Derek Jeter in the All-Star game, “I was going to give him a couple of pipe shots.” Though he later tried to moonwalk away from that statement, he had said more than enough.
Wainwright rained on Jeter’s All-Star finale parade by indicating he was trying to give him something easy to hit. In a game that celebrates baseball’s greatest competitors, Wainwright didn’t compete. Jeter hit a double, leaving all to debate whether or not he hit little more than a batting practice pitch.
If the All-Star had operated as it had, pre-2003, it might not have been such a big deal. It used to be an exhibition game. But after embarrassed Commissioner Bud Selig was forced to call the 2002 game a tie when both teams ran out of pitchers in the 11th inning in ’02, the solution was to make the game count. Home field advantage in the World Series went to the winning league. Under that plan, Wainwright’s gift may have cost his league, and possibly his own team, home field advantage in the Fall Classic.
The big question is – was he more stupid to do it, or stupid to say it? Either way, it wasn’t the first time it happened in real competition. History is full of gifts handed out in the field of play. Here is, I’m sure, an incomplete rundown of “pipe shots” through the years.