Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Wall-ASS Matthews

Another hack job has been added to the Alex Rodriguez annals. Wallace Matthews of Newsday decided that Opening Day was the best opportunity to write a piece stirring the A-Rod pot. The title of the piece is "For comedy, drama, go right to Alex". When I read that headline, I expected to hear our third baseman embarrassing himself with some stupid quote to the beat guys. I'm an Alex Rodriguez supporter, but I know he can make himself sound like a fool in the press on occasion by talking too much.

Was there an embarrassing quote driving this piece? No. Here's the best of A-Rod from Newsday:

"That's a good win for us," he said, seemingly oblivious to the role he had played in it. "We all just want to get off to a good start."

He waited, of course, to be asked about his home run, which prompted the curtain call, and about his seventh-inning single, which could have been a groundout had the Devil Rays' young shortstop, Ben Zobrist, handled the in-between hop, and his stolen base, which led to the go-ahead run when Jason Giambi singled him home.

What part of that quote made Matthews want to stir the pot? "He waited, OF COURSE, to be asked about his home run......" Yes, Wallace. He waited to be asked, because he is the interviewee and you are the interviewer. That's how it works. If he'd just started blabbing about how great his home run was, you'd write something about what great drama A-Rod's prima donna act is in the Bronx. There's more:

"You know, I'm so into the game, I'm so focused in, and I'm enjoying the game so much that I don't even notice," he said. But a few moments later, he observed that the crowd response to him "changed so much in five at-bats, like the stock market," and he clearly was not so locked in that he failed to immediately respond to the crowd's demand for a bow after his home run. "I'll tell you what, that curtain call made me feel really good," he said. "It's something positive, you know?"

He may not be everything you want in a cleanup hitter or a third baseman or a teammate, but Alex Rodriguez is everything you could hope for in a lead character. He is aloof but vulnerable, calculated and yet revealing, mostly guarded but often funny, sometimes even intentionally. He doesn't need strangers to love him but cares very much if they do. Best of all, he'll be here all year, 162 games, 162 couch sessions. And even if at the end of his run he comes up as empty as Al Capone's vaults and The A-Rod Show turns out to have been a long road to nowhere, you can bet it still will be worth taking the ride.

So A-Rod talks about being focused and into the game, and he talks about appreciating the curtain call, and that is cause for Wallace Matthews to write a story about his role in some fictitious Yankees soap opera that simultaneously serves as "162 couch sessions" for the "vulnerable" future Hall of Famer. This is a classic example of an article designed to sell papers by turning a sport that we enjoy into a melodrama that we fuel with our most prurient sensibilities. Yesterday Alex Rodriguez went 2-5 with a home run, a stolen base, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBIs. Those 2 RBIs came with 2 outs. Somehow, equally important in this article is his strikeout, dropped foul ball, and emotional tenderness. I encourage anyone who cares about combatting hack journalism to head to this article and post a comment in the comments section. Join me in the Canyon of Heroes Holy War against Tabloid Hacks 2007.

ADDENDUM: I just went back to read this again, and found one more thing that burns me. It's the lead sentence of the last paragraph I quoted from Matthews:

"He may not be everything you want in a cleanup hitter or a third baseman or a teammate..."

What is "everything you want in a cleanup hitter"? A-Rod has produced a batting line of .299/.396/.549 for an OPS of .945 over three years. He is one hit shy of turning that .299 into the magic .300 and a couple of hot weeks away from making that .396 into a .400 OBP. During his Yankee career he has averaged 26 doubles, 1 triple, 39 home runs, 119 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases. His stealing percentage is .781 for the Bombers. I suppose we should be looking for a .325/.425/.600 batting line with 50 homers and 150 RBIs every year. Plus, Alex has only won 1 MVP for the Yankees in that 3 year span, which generally sucks.

"Everything you want in a third baseman" must mean his defense is bad. Yes, he has posted a 4, -5, and -19 FRAA adjusted for all time. His skill set at third is not getting better. The thing is, Alex Rodriguez switched positions to come to the Yankees. He did so in deference to the Almight Derek Jeter, who is an inferior fielder at that spot. Before sacrificing his spot to Jeter, he was one of the finest shortstops in the game. He is still one HR shy of being the all time leader in that category for shortstops.

"Everything you want in a teammate"? He doesn't give enough back rubs? His Christmas gifts are of cheap quality and in bad taste? What doesn't he do? Is this a place that deserves criticism? It's not like the guy is Albert Belle or Carl Everett. He's not belittling anyone in public, or calling people out on the carpet in the clubhouse. I don't think Alex is pulling a Vince Coleman and smashing pitchers in the arm with golf clubs. I just see hack journalism....


Ankur said...

95% of the comments over there are blasting Wallace. Good dissection of a crappy hack article.

What does EDSP stand for? I am assuming the SP is Scott Proctor.

brockdc said...

This A-Rod bashing by mainstream journalists has become pathological and oh so predictable. Like Anna Smith, it makes for good copy with the lowest common denominator - and that's the bottom line to them. Bloggers (like you, Mike) have become, for the most part, the voices of reason.

Pete said...

You know, I would rather enjoy a blog that just ripped idiot sportswriters to shreds...

Travis G. said...

i believe EDSP is 'Everyday Scotty Proctor'

singlessss said...

I agree with Pete. Seeing the crap these so called 'Professional' writers put up is astonishing. FJM.com is always a great read. Having other Bloggers like Mike point out this crap is a real service.

It is soooooooooooooo tiring having writers pick on ARod.

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