John’s blog post this week has already dealt with something unfortunate that happened in a Yankees game this week. If you don’t know to what I am referring, I encourage you to read his excellent post first. It’s just below this one.
Now, do you know what Hobson’s Choice is? We’re delving into the world of philosophy on this one. In a nutshell, Hobson’s Choice can be summed up in a five-word phrase: take it or leave it. To read up a little more on the history of Hobson’s Choice as a philosophical statement, I encourage you to click HERE.
All done with your reading assignments? Okay. I’m here to posit that Dewayne Wise took the only course open to him at the time. He made the smart choice.
Huh? Blechta’s condoning cheating?
Please allow me to defend my thesis. First off, Wise most decidedly did cheat, but it’s not really his fault. What he did was very much akin to the infamous “phantom tag” play. This bit of video has seen come to light since John’s report: Credit this guy with an assist on Wise's questionable catch.
Clearly, Wise did not make the catch. Furthermore, he ran to the dugout with no ball in his glove.
[Sidebar: Also clearly, the umpire completely blew the call. The brief article that accompanies the video clip ends with ump Mike DiMuro stating “…I should have asked him to show me the ball…” No, Chris, you should have had your brain engaged with your eyes. View the clip again and you will see Vinnie Pellegrino hold up the ball pretty well right in front of the ump’s face. How could DiMuro have missed that? I’ve previously gone on about bad umpiring, but this pretty well takes the cake. Umps are the cops of the game, and if DiMuro actually was a cop and this had been a crime in progress, he’d probably be booted right off the force for something this egregious.]
So why am I on Dewayne Wise’s side on this? Quite simply, because he had no choice but to go along with the con. He knew pretty quickly that the umpire had made the wrong call, but it was a call that helped his team. Wise is a marginal player at best. He was with the Jays last year and was not resigned because he didn’t bring enough to the table. The Yankees brought him onboard to be a role-player, an extra guy for their starting outfielders and a fast baserunner in a pinch. In an undistinguished career, he’s been with six major league teams (Toronto twice). He can pick the ball, but he’s not much of a hitter. He knows the thin ice on which he stands with the Yanks. They’ve used him in forty games this season during which he’s had only thirty-eight at bats. Can you say late-inning defensive replacement or pinch runner? What are his chances for sticking with the team for another season?
Were there any positives to be gained by Wise going up to the ump and saying, “Uh, Mike, I hate to tell you this but I didn’t really catch that ball.” Do you think his manager would have been impressed? Do you think Steinbrenner would have congratulated him for being an honest and upstanding fellow? Had he been honest, Wise would have most likely been benched or let go, all sub rosa, of course.
John was a bit too harsh on the Yankees. They were doing what any sports team would do: get an edge any way they can. The New Yorks are either a little bit more flagrant, or they get caught more often, or they’re just dumb about it, but you can be darn sure that any other team would have no problem with a deke like the one Dewayne got away with.
How can you fault Wise (especially) or the Yankees for taking advantage of an umpire’s very careless call? Honest? No. Understandable? Of course! Faced with Hobson's Choice, Dewayne took it, rather than leave it. He's still on the team and you can be damn sure he's the hero of the clubhouse.
DiMuro, on the other hand, should certainly be taken out back by the head of umpiring and smacked upside the head for being such an unobservant doofus.
And thus ends today’s examination of Hobson’s Choice in the Game of Baseball. I thank you.