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The Dustin Pedroia double-standard

Jul 1, 2010, 2:16 PM EDT

What would happen if A-Rod said and did the things Pedroia does?

The Globe’s Pete Abe — in passing along an observation from his colleague Bob Ryan — drops some righteous wisdom:

If Alex Rodriguez broke his foot, cast aside his crutches and took
grounders from his knees in the infield a few days later, he would be
universally ripped as being a glory-seeking fraud.

But when Dustin Pedroia did it yesterday, he was hailed as the
personification of guts and dedication.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

That leads to a nice little exploration of the double-standard A-Rod faces. At least until the end when Abraham basically says “but people are right: A-Rod is a clown.”  Let’s not allow the conclusion to distract from a perfectly fine observation, however.

In other news, Dustin Pedroia was on the radio yesterday and was asked about how he hurt his foot. His response:

“When you hit the ball that hard and you hit that part of your foot,
something’s going to give. You should have checked the ball. The ball
was pretty messed up, too.”

Funny! But again, if anyone else said it, they’d probably be mocked.

I suppose there’s the perception that when Pedroia says and does the kind of stuff he says and does he’s being genuine, whereas A-Rod or whoever comes off calculated or studied or whatever.  But I think it goes deeper than that. People don’t merely take issue with A-Rod’s delivery — which is admittedly poor — they take issue with the substance too.

Like Abraham points out: Both A-Rod and Pedroia work their tails off. If one says it he’s called a hard worker. If the other says is he’s a phony.  Doesn’t matter if what A-Rod says is true. He’s trashed.

I’m not suggesting that there’s some long-standing conspiracy against A-Rod (though at times I think there has been at least a loose, unspoken agreement that he was a great target).  I think this phenomenon says a lot about human nature. What we find repellent, what we find attractive and the like.

Could it simply be physical? Pedroia is small and balding and even though it’s totally silly to even suggest that he’s “like us” — he is a world class athlete, after all — we can at least squint and pretend that he is like us. A-Rod, on the other hand is a tall, obviously otherworldly-talented specimen who has made it very clear to us from his play alone, that he is very different from us.

We tend to cut people who we perceive to be like us more slack than we cut people who are somehow . . . other.  That has always been the case with race,* but I think it applies to tall and short and any number of other factors that makes Pedroia seem less foreign to us than someone like A-Rod is.

Oh well, that’s my deep thinking for the afternoon. What do you think?

*I’m not suggesting that Pedroia-A-Rod is a racial thing, so please
don’t go there.

  1. jwb - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    Had this treatment of Rodriguez begun in October, 2007, your point may have some validity. As it did not, your point does not.

  2. jwb - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Nah, that’s Ron Gardenhire.

  3. funi - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Pedroia is an overrated punk! If he playe din Pitt or K.C. no one would would care about him. Noone in Boston heard of Jason Bay till he went there and was in top 10 of AllStar voting and he had better years in Pittsburgh!

  4. Md23Rewls - Jul 1, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    The lying-about-steroids thing is just stupid to knock him for at this point. Everybody who used lied/is lying about it. Tell me one guy who admitted to using if they weren’t caught. That’s what I thought. Furthermore, plenty of the roiders are players are loved, such as Ortiz, Pettitte, Brian Roberts, Gagne, Palmeiro, Giambi etc.. It’s not like using steroids is a sign of being a scumbag. I don’t think it’s fair to knock him down a peg on the scale of decency if you aren’t going to do likewise for Ortiz. Speaking of Ortiz, if Rodriguez acted with half the indignation and self-righteousness that Ortiz did when Ortiz had his crappy April, then people would go insane. Say what you want about his awkwardness with speaking, but at least Rodriguez has always always owned up to his failures. He doesn’t lash out at the media or fans, even when fans were booing him for years and when the media was trashing him daily as a choker. That does say something about what kind of a person he is, and on the inverse, the way Ortiz acted says something about his personality. It’s easy to be a stand-up guy when things are going great. Not so easy when you’re struggling. For all of Rodriguez’s problems, he’s never been anything but upfront about the actual baseball stuff (you know, the stuff that people should care about).
    As for the other stuff, yes, Rodriguez has had his sketchy moments (the Toronto yell, the opt out, not the Arroyo thing, because Rodriguez’s general intent was not against the rules–it’s fine to try to knock the ball out when the player is in the baseline, that’s why catchers get plowed over all the time–he just went about it the wrong way), but I think people are too hard on him for stupid reasons that have nothing to do with anything on the field. He’s not a very good public speaker, we know that. He comes across as forced when he’s talking, we know that. Some guys are better at speaking in public than others. Some guys are more natural. Why should Rodriguez get penalized for not making pithy “laser show” comments, though? I think we’ve all been in situations where we don’t come across as natural or authentic. There are times when you just don’t know how to relax, and so you say things that come off as wooden or fake. And yeah, it can be annoying to the average fan who sees it, but it’s sort of silly to hold it against him. So the guy wants to be liked too much? Who cares? I don’t think he has bad intent. Like has been mentioned earlier, it’s a lot easier to be self-deprecating when you are short, white, and have a stubble of facial hair.
    I say all this as a Yankee fan who doesn’t like or hate Rodriguez. I’m happy with his production, but can’t relate to him as a human being. I don’t think he’s a bad guy or that he means ill, even when he screws up or does something a little sketchy.

  5. quint - Jul 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    The big difference is motivation. I believe Pedroia when he says he took ground balls because he was bored and had nothing to do.
    Almost everything A-Rod says and does is about being the man, the star, and all the examples above detail it.
    Pedroia is more genuine, and quite frankly, he is funny and likable.
    Nothing A-Rod does is likable, and almost everything he does is for himself.
    He cannot nor can anyone else expect him to get the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

  6. John - Jul 1, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Yep, it’s an unfair double standard…but A-Rod hasn’t exactly earned the benefit of the doubt for his comments or actions. Doing stupid crap like swatting balls out of gloves, yelling going around the bases, using steroids etc. has just really tarnished his reputation to the point where he can do no right. Pedroia is a “feel good story” because of his size, has always been known to be a great teammate and hard worker, so he can basically do no wrong. I mean, you can’t even really take Dustin seriously. He’s 5 foot 6 and probably weighs 160…his comments usually come off as tongue in cheek and that definitely seems intentional…he just seems like a funny guy. It’s really more about A-Rod being treated unfairly than DP being glorified.

  7. BBallFan - Jul 1, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    I wouldn’t wish the abuse that A-Rod takes on my worst enemy but would like to see how some other players would perform while under it. It is always funny to hear people who don’t know A-Rod attribute things to him that they have no way of really knowing to be true.
    He has done things that no one should be proud of but what has been directed at him because of it has not been in proportion to the reaction given other players for the same offenses.
    The article Posnanski wrote last month about A-Rod was great. He showed how he’s the last safe prejudice but the tide has turned with that both in the Yankee fanbase and in the Yankee clubhouse.

  8. Mike T. - Jul 1, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    I’m not suggesting that Pedroia-A-Rod is a racial thing, so please don’t go there.
    Sorry, Craig, it is.
    If A-Rod was a blond guy from the Midwest, like Mickey Mantle, he’d be “colorful.” But instead he’s a brown guy who speaks with a Spanish accent, so he’s cocky and arrogant. It’s a double standard, all right, and there clearly is a racial component to it, even if NBC Sports can’t afford to say it outright.

  9. Craig Calcaterra - Jul 1, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    Then explain Jeter, who gets even more favorable treatment than Pedroia.
    Look, I’m not saying it’s a non-existent factor. I just don’t think it’s a determinative factor.

  10. Boo Hoo Florio picked on your team - GET OVER IT - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    Because people don’t like to be outed as the hypocritcal douchebags they are.

  11. The Real Shuxion - Jul 2, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    You are even dumber on this site than on PFT, if that was possible.

  12. Bill@TDS - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    That’s interesting…wasn’t the “someone [who] was willing to take him down a well-deserved peg or two” Pedroia himself? I mean, he wasn’t forced to take their money and be in the commercial. Seems to me it suggests that Pedroia himself has a good sense of humor about things (but not as much as “laser show, so relax” does).

  13. twentyseventoseven - Jul 11, 2010 at 6:23 AM

    Alex apologized for steroids and still to this day, has people reminding him of it. David Ortiz denied he had anything to do with it (much like Clemens did) and yet very few people say a word about Ortiz and his use. More double standard. If Alex would have denied use and stayed strong to his denial to this day, people would be throwing batteries out of the stands at him. With Ortiz, he said one time “not me, i didnt do it” and we said, “ok, we believe you” and that was the end of it. There’s more than one double standard when it comes to the Yankees.
    Alex is part of a team who is constantly doing charitable things. Alex just donated 250k to build some wing at a hospital, yet i didnt hear that Pedroia donated a penny to anyone. Alex was part of a group that went to blacksburg va to play a charity game for the people affect by the va tech massacre, i didn’t notice Pedroia down there playing.

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