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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. Joe - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    There’s also the fact that ARod has made the most money in baseball for ten years now. People really hate him for that, too.
    I think it’s really an ARod double-standard more than a Pedroia double-standard. I believe that Jeter would be hailed the hero, too.

  2. Steve-0 - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    I think a big part of it is that Pedroia just seems more genuine. He doesn’t appear to say things just so people will like him or dislike him and he just gives the appearance of playing hard and “the right way”. ARod on the other hand says things and whether they are genuine or not they just come off as seeming phony and when he tries to play the game hard it just comes off bad. The Arroyo incident or the yelling thing in Toronto might have been examples of him playing hard but they just came off as dislikable (

  3. birdmancometh - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:37 PM

    Wow, reading this is a nice changeup from the clowns at PFT. Thats an excellent observation and i’m not a Yankees fan. I love that you notice that race is not the ONLY variable in these things, but it is a variable. Make a list of all the the preceived “lazy” or “arrogant” ball players of the last 15 years and compare. I’ll bet you’ll get a list of common traits. It’s human nature.

  4. JCD - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Pedey’s comments always come off as very tongue-in-cheek, so I’m going with the delivery being the primary factor as to why he gets away with it and Alex gets slammed. Plus, he’s gone bald before he’s turned 30 years old. You can’t make fun of a man who has lost his hair so early in life.

  5. ben s - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    I agree with Joe, it’s really more of an A-Rod double standard than a Pedroia one. Interesting observation though, refreshing post.

  6. InnocentBystander - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    You don’t even have to look at Pedroia to see the double standard that A-Rod has to deal with. It is evident on his own team with the way Jeter is perceived. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Jeter played through an undisclosed injury and was labeled “gritty” and “a gamer”, but the exact scenario with A-Rod got him tagged as “selfish” and “deceiving”. As a Yankees fan I can’t stand how A-Rod is treated. This is one of the best players in baseball, but the media and fans are too willing to dump on him. I certainly love having Jeter on my team, but I would trade how he is continually honored for even remotely fair treatment of A-Rod.

  7. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    A-Rod is the guy who opted out of his humongous contract and broadcast it to the baseball world DURING a World Series Game. He yelled while running by a guy fielding a pop fly. He slammed the ball out of Arroyo’s glove when he was being tagged on his way to first base. He strutted across the pitcher’s mound on his way back to first base, even though EVERYONE said it was an unwritten rule that you don’t do that.
    He is a scumbag. He took steroids. Screw A-Rod.

  8. WellNow - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I was basically going to say the same thing as Chris.

  9. geoknows - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    I’m probably the lone ranger in this, but personally I dislike Pedroia just as much as A-Rod. They both come off self-absorbed to me and, if anything, Pedroia come off as the cockier of the two. That’s why I loved his MLB 2009 The Show commercial: It showed someone was willing to take him down a well-deserved peg or two.
    But that’s just me.

  10. Ace2000 - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Yeah, I gotta side with JCD on this one. I don’t think this is really all that complex. Pedroia very obviously has a sense of humor, while A-Rod has no discernable personality beyond the narcissism. I’ll agree that at this point in his career, A-Rod doesn’t often get the benefit of the doubt, but isn’t a lot of that his own doing? When you behave like an ass clown for so many years, that’s inevitably how people are going to view you. I’m not trying to beat the old steroid horse here, but I think his label as a phony was hard-earned when he so flagrantly lied (and lashed out at his accusers) to cover his ass on that one.

  11. Gregg Rosenthal - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    i agree the guys at pft are clowns.

  12. Tom Giblin - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    I have trouble with your motivation for writing this comment or article. Are you trying to start a fight? Both of these gents are great athletes who deserve respect and space to perform to the best of their abilities. Athletes of this level may or may not have the ability to handle the verbal barbs of a press that has stepped over the line of fair reporting.
    Responsible reporting it seems should deal with questions: “What is best for the athlete when I write?
    What is best for the teams when I write?”
    I kind of think I know how Terry Francona and Joe Giradi would think.
    Hopping you will consider these comments—
    Tom Giblin

  13. Jonny5 - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    I think it’s the arrogance A-rods exudes that makes people dislike him, coupled with the steroid issue. It’s minataurs and needles. It’s kissing thyself in thine mirror and FBI investigations. Dr. Galea and super models….

  14. Scott - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Steroids couldn’t be a better example of the double standard. Where’s the Manny outrage? Bib Papi? Andy Pettitte?
    I tend to think (honestly) that if Pedroia screamed while someone caught a ball, we’d say he was pulling out all the stops to win. The mound thing was retarded, most people never heard of it before – ICHIRO did it in the M’s game last night. I’m SHOCKED no one cares….

  15. JBerardi - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    I agree that it’s a question of images– if someone who’s physically put together like A-Rod or Pujols makes comments about the “bomb squad” or “laser show”, it’s perceived as arrogant because they’re flaunting their obvious superior capabilities over everyone else. We expect humility from players like that, whereas Dustin doesn’t look anything like a guy who hits home runs, so it’s cute and funny and unexpected when he displays his utter lack of humility. He’s seen as an underdog who NEEDS to have that kind of arrogance to keep him successful.

    It should be noted, by the way, that this is completely wrong. Whatever his physical appearance, Dustin Pedroia is a tremendously gifted athlete. The guy was the quarterback of his high school football team. He went to a top college baseball program in AZ State and did so well there that he forced Ian Kinsler to transfer when he beat him out for starting shortstop (funny that story doesn’t come up more often). He was a high draft pick, received a large bonus, and excelled as he plowed through the minor leagues. The guy has never been an underdog, ever. Even the prospect evaluators who dinged him for his size in the minors still projected him as a major-league starter, if only a second-division type. By all rights we should expect such a talented person to show some humility, but… it call comes back to images. He’s short! He’s just like David Eckstein! Laser show? That’s adorable!

    For his own part, I’m convinced that Pedroia is keenly aware of this dynamic, and he plays off it whenever possible. He’s obviously amused by it himself, and it’s a convenient line of BS he can feed to beat reporters when necessary. That’s ultimately the reason that I’m not more annoyed by his attitude, because it’s just such an obvious farce. Or maybe it’s just because he’s my favorite player…

  16. JBerardi - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    That commercial was funny, but factually inaccurate. Pedroia KILLS high fastballs.

  17. nps6724 - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    A-Rod is arrogant, egostistical, greedy, a liar, and humorless. Right or wrong, that combination rubs people the wrong way.

  18. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Funny how you rationalized everything except the thing that most makes him the biggest dick in the sport…stealing the spotlight from the biggest stage the game has…the World Series. I hope A-Rod never sniffs Hank Aaron’s Home Run record.

  19. aleskel - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    “He slammed the ball out of Arroyo’s glove when he was being tagged on his way to first base.”
    Funny you should mention that – Pedroia tried to do the same in the 2007 ALCS:
    Why do you think people don’t bring that up more?

  20. aleskel - Jul 1, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    Do you think that Pedroia isn’t arrogant too? As much as he couches it in humor (lazer show, etc.) I get the sense that he is tremendously arrogant. As he should be, considering he’s an incredible talent and unimpeachable self-confidence is an important trait for a baseball player.
    When you boil it down, I don’t think ARod is any less arrogant than a player of his stature should be. Maybe he doesn’t carry himself the right way or express his arrogance in a way that wins people over, but it’s not arrogance that’s the problem.
    Oh, and ARod won the game for the Yankees today with a 2-run bomb in the 8th. Let your game do the talkin’, as they say.

  21. Evan - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Don’t discount the beard! When people see a guy with a beard, they think of a blue-collar construction-worker type. That’s why those types of players (Youkilis, Pedroia , Halladay et al) are described as “gritty” and “hard-working.” I hate those descriptions. As if some players got to the major leagues wtihout working hard. Please!

  22. Scott - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Funny how you make several points, and when I erase all but one, you say “well none of those mattered except the one you didn’t touch on”
    I actually thought that was botched by his agent or the team, or someone with something to gain (he certainly had nothing to gain). But that is subjective and there’s no way to know for certain so I left it out.

  23. gk1272 - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    If you want a direct example of the double-standard between the two just google “Pedroia slaps ball”…while A-Rod’s slap at Arroyo holding the ball from the 2004 ALCS is still brought up to show what a jerk he is, Pedroia made an almost exact play against the Indians in the ’07 ALCS but it’s never mentioned. Interesting…

  24. Scott - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Can you imagine if a-rod referred to himself as a Laser Show?

  25. cardillo11 - Jul 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    He reminds me of the Travelocity gnome

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