Yet another friend -- and yes, I really do have three friends (if just barely) -- writes:
Cal Ripken once said that he told base runners to stay on the bag, when an Oriole teammate was planning a hidden ball trick. Junior said that even if a hidden ball trick was successful, in the long term it would come back to hurt a team somehow.
Same with the bogus bruise. It just creates an ugly model of behavior. Would Jeter have faked it if a guy was throwing a perfect game?
Huh. That's definitely not where I would draw the line. Did Ripken never try to slow down a baserunner by acting as if a ball had been caught? Shoot, the Twins might have won the 1991 World Series because Greg Gagne did that. It just seems to me that trying to fool other players is a natural part of the game. Isn't the occasional misdirection an integral part of almost every sport or game?
I think what's different about the ol' hidden-ball trick is that it's so terribly embarrassing. Ripken, a consummate professional, may have dreaded embarrassment more than anything, perhaps to the point that he refused to participate, even passively, in the utter embarrassment of another player.
But the distinction I would make is between deceiving another player and deceiving an official representative of the sport -- for instance, an umpire. If there are rules, there must be an authority to enforce and interpret them. And if you allow (let alone encourage) players to blatantly deceive umpires, you're threatening the fundamental integrity of the game.
Which is why the next time Jeter pulls this little trick, there should be a book to throw at him. I'm thinking a three-game suspension would be an excellent start.
(Granted, we might find that Ripken loved to pull the ol' hidden-ball trick, in which case most everything above is moot.)
UPDATE: Ripken was asked about the situation during a SportsNation chat:
Tim (Boston): Cal, during the Derek Jeter debate last week, about him not really getting hit by a pitch, I heard Tim Kurkjian on ESPN say that what Jeter did is something that you would have done....so, I want to ask, is that something you would have done?
Cal Ripken (2:38 PM): Yes, I would have done it, except for bringing the trainer out and the whole act of it all. I have had calls go for and against me. I've hit balls off my foot and the ump said it didn't go off my foot. I've had balls hit close to my foot and told to go to first. I would have just taken my base and run to first.