The Dustin Pedroia double-standard

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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.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.