Alex Really Does Work Harder

Well, you probably remember the big flap last year when A-Rod claimed he was working out when other players were still sleeping. Certain BoSox took offense. Alex remains a lightning rod—the latest issue is his endorsement of Lou Piniella—but as Peter Abraham suggests, he doesn’t always deserve the abuse. (Although it might help if superagent Scott Boras stopped floating rumors about how sought-after is his famous client.) Also, there’s this:

I see Alex on his way to work out in the gym at Legends Field every morning around 8:15. That’s about an hour before most of his teammates show up. Every time I walk by the cage, he’s taking extra hitting. I have friends who have seen him at night in a private gym working out again.
For a guy who supposedly wants out, he’s certainly working awfully hard for the Yankees.

30 comments… add one
  • I remember the flap when ARod talked about his training that raised the ire of Sox players, particularly Schilling, but I believe that was two years ago, no?

    Whatever March 3, 2007, 10:02 am
  • I don’t think his work ethic is ever in question, it’s his head he needs to work on in my opinion, no way a talent like that puts up those numbers in the regular season then comes up empty when it’s all on the line because of anything other than a head issue.

    LocklandSF March 3, 2007, 11:07 am
  • Oh puh-leeze, did A-Rod choke when it was ‘all on the line’ in the 2004 series against Minnesota? Fact is, almost EVERYONE has choked in the playoffs for the Yankees. Not just A-Rod. Look at Sheffield’s or Giambi’s numbers in past postseasons and they’re just as bad. Hey, Matsui’s really fallen off the table since 2004, hasn’t he? I guess everyone on the Yankees has head issues, huh? Well, everyone except Jeter and Posada.
    It’s so tired, basing ‘clutch’ performance on matters of 14 and 15 at-bats. That’s what it is, because the Yankees don’t actually get deep into the playoffs. And if someone thinks it’s all A-Rod’s fault, well, then they’re legally retarded.

    Andrew March 3, 2007, 11:28 am
  • I’m not placing all the blame on A-Rod by any stretch, but 14 or 15 at bats?
    Wasn’t he 4 for 43 or something very close to that in the postseason last year? 40+ at bats isn’t a small sample size when you’re talking playoffs.

    Steve March 3, 2007, 11:36 am
  • I think he was 1 for 14, with several walks? You can’t have 43 ABs (this is not meant to be snide, YFs, just factual) when you play 4 games…unless one of them goes, you know, 40 innings.

    Devine March 3, 2007, 11:45 am
  • I must be thinking of a different year or am just completely wrong…
    Man, it’s too early for discussion. I’ll be back tonight.

    Steve March 3, 2007, 11:52 am
  • I think is what Steve wa referring to: “Through 2006, Rodriguez is a paltry 4-for-41 (.098 batting average) with no RBI in his last 12 postseason games.” That’s the last four games of 2004 and the 2005 and 2006 ALDS. Pretty decent sample size.
    And is 8:15 really that early? I was reading a snippet the other day about Juan Pierre’s work ethic – apparently he showed up at 5:30 am the other day, an hour before his coaches.

    tommy March 3, 2007, 11:54 am
  • And of course we could expand the sample size to include his post-seasons with the M’s when he put very strong numbers. I guess the narrow point is that he hasn’t been clutch with the Yanks, but the larger point is that this is not neccessarily a permanent character trait.

    Nick-YF March 3, 2007, 11:58 am
  • Before anyone tries to call BS, here is the quote about Pierre, from Gammons’ ESPN blog –
    As for Pierre, a couple of days ago, Little called coaches Rich Donnelly and Dave Jauss into his office at 6:15 a.m. “When Pierre gets here, send him in here,” said Little. “I need to have a word with him.”
    “Skip,” replied Donnellly, “he’s been here working for 45 minutes.”

    tommy March 3, 2007, 11:58 am
  • tommy,
    So what’s your point? You were able to scrape up one story about a guy that showed up before the sun came up, even earlier than Alex, and that proves what? Are you saying ARod doesn’t work that hard or what?

    Whatever March 3, 2007, 12:08 pm
  • “Are you saying ARod doesn’t work that hard or what?”
    Hey, if Abraham wants to write fluff pieces about Arod and how hard he works in spring training, that’s his perogative. But it’s not like Arod is the only guy out there working hard and showing up “early.” Pierre is just a case in point, and I was reminded of it because I read it yesterday.
    And I don’t know what you do for a living Whatever, but I can’t imagine getting accolades for showing up at 8:15. Makes me wish I could hit a curveball.

    tommy March 3, 2007, 12:29 pm
  • Whatever: I don’t believe tommy was trying to say anything of the sort. I think he was just pointing out that 8:30 isn’t an extraordinarily early starting time.
    A-Rod’s definitely a hard worker. My personal belief is that he’s just too “soft” for the hardcore Yankee fans and media, but his talent manages to overcome that and still put up great numbers (unlike, say, Renteria, who pretty much fell apart under the pressure.)

    Steve March 3, 2007, 12:30 pm
  • Well, it’s all relative. 8:15 might not sound early to some, but it’s apparently an hour earlier than pretty much everybody else on the Yanks. And I don’t think Abraham meant to convey that Alex was the only guy in baseball doing that.
    And btw, if I didn’t have to show up at work till 8:15, I’d be getting a helluva lot more sleep than I do now.

    Whatever March 3, 2007, 12:49 pm
  • Let’s not make this a flame war. A few points:
    -40 at bats is still a small sample. And Alex has put up decent numbers in the playoffs in the past.
    -Derek, Reggie, Mickey, and the Babe have all had horrible playoff series for the Yanks. It happens.
    -Abraham didn’t write a puff piece. He wrote a blog entry in which he noted the fact that Alex is working out before and after many of his teammates. Period.
    -On Peter Abraham more broadly, I’m becoming awfully frustrated with the SF attacks on him. We ALL owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude, not just because he’s a terrific reporter and a friend of this site, but because he’s the pioneer of a new kind of reporting that’s giving fans an access we’ve never had before, and he’s no luddite (like Murray Chass) on baseball’s intellectual issues. His blog is an absolute must. Disagree with him all you want—that’s fine—but let’s keep it respectful.

    YF March 3, 2007, 12:55 pm
  • YF, you are completely right about Peter Abraham, who I think, and perhaps I’m hyperbolizing a bit, has ushered in a new great era of reporting for Yanks fans. Every paper now has a beat reporter with a blog, and some of these blogs are excellent because of the access they offer and because they give us an insight to how news is manufactured and how the Yanks as personalities and athletes function. I met a woman at a party last year who works as a reporter for Lohud News. She told me that Pete Abraham had become, in less than a year,the biggest name at the paper, that he was the paper’s first celebrity reporter. She also told me that he was a great guy, very collegial, very good to work with. It seems that a good guy has finished first, and that’s something to be happy about. And because of his knack for this blog thing (God knows I can empathize with how difficult it is to come up with interesting things to write about in interesting ways), we have all been treated to better sports reporting than we had 2 years ago.

    Nick-YF March 3, 2007, 1:17 pm
  • Anyone that reads Pete’s blog regularly knows that he is not above criticizing or poking fun at the Yankees, ARod and Pavano in particular, and is not a Yankee fan.
    As far as Pete’s blog goes, as someone who is down at spring training, talking to all the players and management, watching all the games, and blogging with in-game updates, not to mention all the inside scoops, IMO, as a Yankee fan, his blog is far and away the best. And he does his work with a good sense of humor as well.

    Whatever March 3, 2007, 1:27 pm
  • It wasn’t my intention to slanderize Abraham, I’ve never read his blog but if you say he’s a proponent of the new media I’ll take your word for it. Perhaps I’ve been conditioned to expect the press to write negative things about Arod, so when I read anything remotely positive about him it comes across as fluff.
    Though (and I have no intention to start a flame war) upon re-reading the quote, I don’t necessarily agree with Abraham’s implied conclusion – “For a guy who supposedly wants out, he’s certainly working awfully hard for the Yankees.” Couldn’t he also be working that hard towards his contract year, if he decides to opt out?

    tommy March 3, 2007, 1:35 pm
  • Except he’s always worked hard for the Yankees, which I think is the point.

    Andrew March 3, 2007, 2:12 pm
  • I think it was Whatever who made this point the last time we discussed Mr. Rodriguez, he is an absolute lightning rod for attention and he gets the same questions and same stories over and over and over. Good, bad or indifferent story and he takes a beating. This man must feel like he’s walking through a cornfield backwards on a daily basis. I have said before that he needs to just hush up, but it doesn’t matter at this point he is just going to get bashed regardless. I know that some of you here are journalists and I don’t want you to take offense, but really there needs to be some kind of line drawn with the papers and sports talk radio. Between the radio and print they make this guy out to be Satan. I know that’s what sells, but this guy is human after all. Like Theo said yesterday on Kay’s show when Kay asked him about J.D.’s troubled past with the fans “We didn’t bring in J.D. Drew to be a fan favorite, we brought him him because he can flat out play.” I can’t believe I just used Theo to defend a point.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 3, 2007, 2:44 pm
  • I for one have been totally praiseworthy of Abraham. Please don’t lump me in with the SFs who have “attacked” him. I also question YFs generalization of our sentiments towards Pete.
    As for the 40 at-bat sample of A-Rod, not only is it small, but it’s even smaller when you consider it is over three postseasons. Though I am happy he has failed in the postseason recently, it is patently unfair to make this three season span into one sample. Each postseason is a different beast, with different matchups, and there’s no good way to measure a player’s consistency with blind blend, as far as I am concerned.

    SF March 3, 2007, 3:10 pm
  • That’s not to say I haven’t criticized Pete, but I think he’s about the best Yankee beat writer out there, and he has complete credibility.

    SF March 3, 2007, 3:11 pm
  • It really isn’t fair for A-Rod.
    If he and Jeter both go hitless in a short series, guess who gets the free pass and who gets obliterated? I genuinely don’t like most of what he says (seems to come off a little whiny,) but I wouldn’t constantly destroy him like the media does. The guy goes out every year and hits .300 with at least 30-40 dingers and at least 100 RBI.
    Manny does the same thing production-wise, and he gets blasted by the Boston media constantly as well. Makes you wonder exactly what the objective for some of the writers is?

    Steve March 3, 2007, 3:16 pm
  • Arod’s rep for being “unclutch” originates from the 2004 regular season, where he hit .248 with RISP, .206 with RISP and 2 outs, and a whopping .167 with the bases loaded. That is pretty lousy, not matter how you slice it. He was coming in with really high expectations, fresh off an MVP season, and he was pretty disappointing. And unfortunately for him, once branded a choker, it’s a tough label to shake, and his playoff stats as a Yankee do nothing but reinforce this rep.
    Last season, by contrast, he was actually pretty good darned in the clutch, hitting .302 with RISP, .313 with RISP and 2 outs, and .474 with the bases loaded. If anything, I think this shows how tough it is to shake the perception of being unclutch. Until he has a big postseason, he’ll never put to rest the whispers, IMO.

    tommy March 3, 2007, 6:01 pm
  • Question:
    Who are the whispers from? Is it Yankees fans, who (at least the ones I know), for the most part deny being or simply aren’t unfair to A-Rod? Or is it Sox fans who like to pick at the scab that is A-Rod’s performance in the clutch? Or is it the media, who can’t resist a lazy story line?
    The answer to the first question is “hard to say”. We have enough fair-minded Yankees fans at this site to show that A-Rod gets a pretty good shake from them, and that he isn’t branded, at least by our clientele. The answer to the second question is harder to pin down. I, for one, a diehard SF, think he is really unfairly treated in general, and am basically in awe of his skills and also his general performance. I even hope he opts out and the Sox throw a blank check at him. Many SFs I know feel the same way. The third question could probably be answered “yes”, without hesitation.
    So the reality, to me, is that A-Rod doesn’t really have a label to shake, at least not from reasonable, aware fans. The myth is that he’s something less than great situationally. The reality is that everyone is less than great situationally, if you want to look closely, even the legends.

    SF March 3, 2007, 6:45 pm
  • “The myth is that he’s something less than great situationally”
    Did you watch the same games I did the past 3 postseasons? You can plainly see how much he presses, especially when the team is behind.
    There’s a big difference between being unsuccessful and having lousy AB’s, which Arod usually has in the clutch. The k on 3 pitches with bags juiced in game 2 against Detroit is a perfect example. I just don’t see Jeter, O’Neill, Posada, Tino going down 1,2,3 in that spot

    Andrews March 3, 2007, 7:01 pm
  • should have said ” in the postseason clutch”

    Andrews March 3, 2007, 7:03 pm
  • “Who are the whispers from… is it Sox fans who like to pick at the scab that is A-Rod’s performance in the clutch?”
    I for one am not whispering – I am shouting. I proudly heckle Arod, because it’s apparent it gets to him. Much like I’m positive every self respecting YF who was at that infamous game in 2004 would have been chanting “Who’s your Daddy” at Pedro. It’s part of the game, and it’s a fun part.
    Good night.

    tommy March 3, 2007, 7:19 pm
  • “On Peter Abraham more broadly, I’m becoming awfully frustrated with the SF attacks on him.”
    This seems awfully dramatic. Compared with SF criticisms of our own beat writers, Abraham has not been attacked at all. Criticism on successive days is hardly a volley of unmerited attacks.

    Paul SF March 3, 2007, 8:51 pm
  • let me say it again, sfs’ [not just sf] tend to be most [hyper-]critical of the writers who typically write unflattering pieces about the sox…i know you don’t like this one paul but here it is again:
    bad sportswriter = hall of fame credentials [top secret apparently so don’t tell anybody], exposes flaws in team makeup, management, and front office strategy
    good sportswriter = writes puff pieces about team unity, how the team has no flaws, front office is brilliant, all new acquisitions will perform at all star level, despite any history that might suggest otherwise

    dc March 4, 2007, 9:28 am
  • by the way, somebody tell arod that he’s not going to stop the boos by coming to work early and performing in the gym…

    dc March 4, 2007, 9:30 am

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