M’s and rumor mongers, Alex’s a jerk

DMZ · October 25, 2004 at 12:55 am · Filed Under Mariners 

I’m back again, again — I spent the weekend hanging out with my brother, which included being hit by The Worst Beat Ever in my poker-playing life (but nobody likes bad beat stories, so I’ll spare everyone). And there was no Mariner news to write about. I was a little disappointed.

So I have two things, then:

If you’re following the free agent speculation, you’ll note that Carlos Beltran is frequently mentioned as a future Yankee. Possibly a Cub, or a Met, or an Astros. Sometimes the Red Sox, Angels, even the Dodgers. Not, though, a Mariner.

I think this reflects two things: first, in general, sports media (like all mass media) often fixates on the easy story. Every outlet has individual people who look at all the stuff they could fill their column-inch quota or word count with, and those people often look at possible topics and think “which of these is easiest to write something that my readers will look at and, possibly, react to?” I know: writing columns at BP I often sat down at keyboard with two or three topics, tried to work on the most interesting ones, ran up on the deadline, and ended up having to do the easy-to-write one and after that got back to the other topic.

The Yankees are eaaaaaaaaaaasy. Will they be able to continue their huge spending as the “tax rate” on payroll increases to 40%? Will they be able to take on Beltre, and does that mean Alex moves to short and Jeter to second? Or center? And then what about Beltran — does Bernie stay there? Are they looking to dump someone?

Easy column, guaranteed to generate response, because the Yankees are always controversial.

Moreover, and this is going to sound bad no matter how I write it, sports media in general is hugely East Coast-centric. ESPN, the big networks, they’re all out east, and it shows. Great West Coast performances rarely get national play because the games air at ten in New York, and nobody’s watching. This is more subjective, but coverage of some teams often seems to be an afterthought. I find many more factual errors in team and game stories the farther west they’re filed. In general it seems that only LA, also in a media center, gets the kind of press attention that the Phillies do. They certainly don’t cover the kind of in-depth backroom dealings that those east franchises do. If you want to get rumors out of the Mariners in a mainstream publication, you’re looking to Gammons pretty much.

So the fact that the Mariners are a huge revenue-generating team — I don’t think that’s well-known. That they’re interested in spending on a top-tier free agent… I don’t think that’s well-known either, and as a story it doesn’t lend itself to an easy column as well as the Yankees do. And then when people write about “speculation is that he’ll be courted by x, y, and, z” there’s no buzz about it.

There is also the fact that these teams are known to pursue and sign big names, while the Mariners are not. We could talk about whether the perception that the Mariners have never signed a top-tier free agent is justified, but it’s absolutely true that this belief is widespread, and it’s not going to go away until the team signs someone great to a truly monster deal. No one cares that the Mariners were bidding on Tejeda, or whoever — it’s going to take a signing to change this perception, and until then people aren’t going to buzz about how they’re rumored to be after this top guy or that top guy unless the team’s actually in the running.

I expect that once the free agent season has started and the team is out bidding, we’ll know about it. I don’t think this is a case where the lack of whispering about what they’re up to means they’re not up to anything.

And in the things-that-generate-hate-mail category, I’ve always stuck up for Alex. The money, even the contract, isn’t an issue for me, because I think he was worth it, and Texas’ whining about payroll flexibility rang false to me. He’s always been sort of… personality-less to me, someone who knows what he’s supposed to say, and says it. I’ve also seen Alex flash genuine warmth before kids while doing random promo appearances at schools and stuff when he was here, so I’ve always figured

But man, seeing his hand-slap thing in the ALCS, followed by his subsequent whining to the umpires and everyone else… what a jerk. There’s a certain amount of uh… latitude I’m willing to give players in trying to do what it takes to win, but between the move itself, the argument with the umps that he was just running — which was obviously not true — and then his bleating about the call, I was thinking “dude, don’t be a jerk about this, please…”

No such luck.


97 Responses to “M’s and rumor mongers, Alex’s a jerk”

  1. tyler on October 25th, 2004 3:32 pm

    and another tragedy is an english teacher who can’t spell traGedy.

  2. Itea on October 25th, 2004 3:52 pm

    tyler –

    As I noted in my first comment, I don’t like ARod personally. I don’t have a visceral negative reaction to him either; he just seems like someone with a completely different set of interests than I have.

    If you don’t like him, fine. What specifically bothers me is the way he’s treated by Seattle fans, who treat him as if he betrayed their trust. He didn’t. If you want to do the research, go back to his walk year and look for quotes he made about signing a new contgract with the M’s – at least once, he was very candid about how he wanted to see what the market would offer him.

    I don’t think ARod gets credit for not complaining about his salary during a three year period where he was one of the best 5 players in baseball and got paid like the 400th best. And yet he’s gotten a tremendous amount of shit for being paid the most while perhaps only performing like one of the best ten. That seems hypocritical to me. Why don’t the Mariners fans bitch about the fact that Edgar was grossly overpaid this year?

    Anyway. ARod is still in his 20s, and has plenty of opportunity to affect his legacy, both on and off the field. The crap he got for the other day is silly – he’s competitive, was trying to win, and did something he probably should have, but the fact that he was upset had everything to do with wanting to win the game. As a very public figure, anyone looking for ammunition against him has a few zillion quotes to cherry-pick from in order to build a case. A fairer way to evaluate him would be to look at everything he’s done over his career, good and bad, and I think an honest appraisal would be that he’s put significant time and money into doing the right thing, whether you believe it was for cynical reasons or not.

    There are enough athletes out there that actually do commit despicable acts that I don’t think it’s necessary to knock ARod off an imaginary pedestal. He’s just a pro athlete, not as admirable as some, but more so than many.

    – Itea

  3. Itea on October 25th, 2004 3:54 pm


    “and did something he probably should have”

    obviously should be “and did something he probably shouldn’t have”

    I asked this once before – is it possible to make the Comment edit box larger?

    – Itea

  4. Darrell on October 25th, 2004 3:55 pm

    or disingenUous

  5. Eric on October 25th, 2004 3:56 pm

    If A-Rod would have just one time said “Are you kidding me, 25 mil a year how could I not take that” My respect for his would have gone up immensely.

    Then add to that the way he forced his way out of Texas and I really lost respect for him.

  6. DMZ on October 25th, 2004 3:58 pm

    Itea:Well, these kinds of stories tend to go along the lines of “we’d been in heads-up raising wars all night”, etc. But then I might question your characterization of his play if he did this often with something like JJ in this scenario.

    I know, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. I understand your point, and it’s well-taken — to some extent, I did the Phil Hellmuth v Duke “think yourself through and then past the solution into failure” thing.

    At the same time, other sharp players that were there had the exact same perception I did of what was going on, and no one ribbed me about the hand. So… there’s that.

  7. msb on October 25th, 2004 3:59 pm

    “Do you wonder like I do why Edgar getting the Roberto Clemente Award before game 3 of this year’s WS merits less space by far than why Alex Rodriguez deserves less or more than he what he makes or deserves?–Comment by JPWood — 10/25/2004 @ 2:18 pm

    FWIW, MLB hasn’t officially announced the award. Last year they didn’t announce the winner until the day of the award, and I think their mlb.com article came the day after.

  8. Evan on October 25th, 2004 4:06 pm

    Don’t lump together perfectly legal behaviour like stealing signs with Alex interfering with Arroyo. A-Rod can steal signs all day if he wants – it’s perfectly legal behaviour.

    The only way stealing signs could be analogous would be if it were prohibited, A-Rod got caught doing it, and then he repeatedly lied about doing it over a period of several hours.

  9. Marty Lighthizer on October 25th, 2004 4:07 pm

    Yes, and another tragedy is an English teacher who can’t correctly spell the vocabulary word he assigns — “disingenUous.”

    Sorry, but entries that mangle our language sometimes irritate me as much as does the Sultan of Slap…

  10. Itea on October 25th, 2004 4:08 pm

    DMZ – Where are you playing? Is this the Hideaway or something, or a home game? Presumably from your description this was not online.

    It’s not very comparable to a NL hand. In NL, you evaluate the situation and go with that. Here, it wasn’t like you’d have to lay down the hand if you decide he’s more likely than not that he has quads (or a larger full house). You just call and show down.

    Of course, I wasn’t there, and thus do not know your further complications. Though I would say that if it wasn’t a home game, you shouldn’t get ribbed by anyone no matter how good or poor a play it was, so that’s irrelevant…

    – I

  11. Paul Covert on October 25th, 2004 4:29 pm

    Trying to be balanced here, and giving the pluses and minuses as I perceive them:


    Things For Which I Give A-Rod Credit

    1. Above all else: Playing hard through the end of his Seattle contract and not whining his way out of town.

    2. Working hard to maintain his skills and conditioning.

    3. Being a legitimate Hall of Famer already, at age 29.

    Things For Which I Don’t At All Fault A-Rod

    1. Being overpaid—at least not unless this year turns out to be the beginning of a decline. He has to maintain an MVP level of performance for the contract’s duration to justify it, but as long as he keeps it up, he’s worth it.

    2. Being the cause of the Rangers’ problems when he was there. Look to the pitching staff for that one.

    Things For Which I Do (at least possibly) Fault A-Rod

    1. One of the following, and I’m not sure which:
    (a) Saying “I want to play for a winner” when he meant “show me the money”;
    (b) Wanting to play for a winner, but getting snookered by Tom Hicks’ snazzy presentation on how the Rangers were supposedly going to be one;
    (c, and perhaps most likely) Getting dazzled by the $$$ signs and thus not asking Mr. Hicks the hard questions about his organization’s direction.

    2. More broadly, the tendency to say nice things that don’t seem quite believable (including the Texas captaincy sequence). (I’ll still take A-Rod’s “correctness” over Junior’s petulance any day, though).

    3. Possibly, for the show of innocence after introducing Bronson Arroyo’s glove to the new meaning of “The Sultan of Swat”—- although this may be partially excusable (because this is such an unusual play, he might have thought it was one of those things like phantom tags and blocking the plate where the de facto and de jure rule sets differ).

    Would I welcome A-Rod back? Yeah—- not with the greatest enthusiasm, perhaps, but I’d certainly consider him an asset to the team. (Of course, now that he’s been sucked into the Pinstriped Black Hole, this is unlikely ever to be more than a hypothetical issue, or at least not before his 40th birthday.)

  12. Gregor on October 25th, 2004 4:37 pm

    Paul (#61): Great summary. I would personally add his misguided statement regarding Boeing’s proposed move to Dallas to the last list.

  13. tyler on October 25th, 2004 4:44 pm

    spell-checked twice. on the same word. so be it. i admit it, i’m an inperfect speller. i generally spell check using my computer, and occasionnally mispell a word when i don’t have the automated grammarien by my side.

    Itea— love your posts, by the way. And i would say a “visceral” reaction would be a tad strong. but let me pose you this off of your words:
    “I think an honest appraisal would be that he’s put significant time and money into doing the right thing, whether you believe it was for cynical reasons or not.”
    — fair enough. I wouldn’t begrudge him the efforts. But I think the reasons behind the actions are far more critical than the lip service of doing the “right thing.”

    “There are enough athletes out there that actually do commit despicable acts that I don’t think it’s necessary to knock ARod off an imaginary pedestal. He’s just a pro athlete, not as admirable as some, but more so than many.”
    — I agree, and this is very well put. But, two years ago, if you were to take a national consensus on Kobe, he and A-rod would both be put into this category of “doing things right…” I’m not saying Kobe raped that girl, but I would say that he definitely created a public persona and behaviorism that was far different than that of the person who had to apologize to his wife. And yes, people make mistakes, yadda yadda. But, when a person’s motives are corrupt (which to me, A-rod’s reek of) then it destroys any credibility merited by their positive actions. Plus those dark motives have a funny way of eventually creeping to the surface. (that’s why stealing signs and slapping at the ball AND then later pretending he didn’t know it was wrong do relate.)

    I would much rather have 18 Allen Iverson’s and as much as i hate to say it, T.O.’s, then one false hero with a very appealing surface. Which is more damaging to the impressionable youth (all 1374 who still believe in their sports heroes)– somebody who you can see a mile away has tragic flaws, or someone who has an air of false perfection with a dirty underside.

    I don’t know if that makes sense, and i’m mainly just trying to provide a theoretical argument on what i see as an interesting conversation…

  14. Joshua Buergel on October 25th, 2004 4:55 pm

    I occasionally go back and look at the numbers that Griffey has posted, it’s clear his peak was in ’97 and he started a slow decline from there. At the time, it didn’t look like he’d peaked necessarily, it seemed to me like he was going to be awesome for a long time.

    Well, I’m looking at A-Rod’s numbers, and this is now the fifth year in a row that he’s posted a lower EQA. Putting aside all the other stuff, has he started his decline? I can’t deny that I’d take a certain amount of pleasure in it at this point, as the Yankees would have the mother of all boat-anchor contracts on their hands.

  15. DMZ on October 25th, 2004 5:10 pm

    Except that the Yankees aren’t paying all of his contract.

    Itea — Muckleshoot. Not a big fan of the Hideaway. But that’s a whole other thing. As for who was there and why I’d expect them to rib me — you’re just going to have to trust me on that one.

    I should better put it this way: it wasn’t the worst bad beat of all time. It was my worst hand of all time. The fact that he played as he did, decided to play a hand he’d have folded earlier, meant that I bit and he nailed me for as much money as possible. It was unlucky, it was being outplayed.

  16. Joshua Buergel on October 25th, 2004 5:13 pm

    Good point, it’s easy to forget that somehow Texas is still paying freight on that contract.

  17. Tim on October 25th, 2004 5:21 pm

    I would actually think that Jeter’s contract is just as likely to be the mother of all boat-anchor contracts in as much as the Yankees got Hicks to pay $8 million? of A-Rod’s salary. Mr. Intangible was much worse than A-Rod in the playoff’s this year, both defensively and offensively.

  18. paul on October 25th, 2004 5:26 pm

    “There are enough athletes out there that actually do commit despicable acts that I don’t think it’s necessary to knock ARod off an imaginary pedestal. He’s just a pro athlete, not as admirable as some, but more so than many.”

    Amen, Itea. As I said before, if I were gonna knock him off a pedestal, it would be for the way he plays the game and not for the off-field “he said this and he did that waaaaaahhh” stuff.

    When was the last time any athlete, in any sport, spoke honestly about anything relating to their career? I’m not saying that every athlete is a liar, but they all exaggerate and shape their words carefully, and they all say things that sound good in the media.

    I like Tyler’s shakespearean parallel, as well – “the cloud of greatness unfulfilled” is a good way to put it. And I’d add to that an almost Icarian (icarusesque? Icarusish?) dimension to it.

    A-Rod could have it all, could be hands-down the best regarded (and the best) player in baseball, if he’d learn to be Jordanesque in the media and take (or at least pay lip service to taking) responsibility for his actions on the field. Instead his mouth gets in his way, and he falls flat. Disingenuous is a good word for him.

  19. Karen on October 25th, 2004 6:00 pm

    Itea said at 10/25/04 @ 11:23 am, [i]”…He busted ass for way-under-market-pay while he was here.”[/i] and later said [i]”I don’t think ARod gets credit for not complaining about his salary during a three yera period where he was one of the best 5 players in baseball and got paid like the 400th best.”[/i]

    Neither assertion is quite true. Rodriguez received a $1.3 mil signing bonus when he became a Mariner, generous for the times. He wasn’t ready for the big leagues in his rookie year, ’94, like Griffey was. He came up the next year, but was demoted 3 times, and got despondent (see under “On the Rise” at http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/ARod/ARod_bio.html ) He stayed after his 4th promotion to the M’s 25-man roster in August ’95. His salary was right in line with the pay to 1st through 3rd year players at the time (minimum wage $442,333).

    In 1996 he signed a 4 year $10.7 mil contract despite being eligible for arbitration. You have to admit that may be a questionable decision for a kid represented by Scott Boras, but it’s not like the Mariners were holding a gun to his head. A $10.7 4 year contract was considered quite a handsome increase for a 3 year player for the times, and EACH of those years were ABOVE the median for his PRESENT team (i.e., much higher than “400th best”) http://asp.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/salaries/mediansalaries.aspx?year=1997 and so on)

    The Mariners offered him a deal in 2000 that was right in line with the majority of “A list” free agent signings. Not the biggest, obviously…but as it turned out that’s what he wanted. THAT’S when he finally whined (a lot) about how much he was paid in his first 2 contracts with the Mariners. Who knew?

  20. LB on October 25th, 2004 6:10 pm

    #67: Mr. Intangible? It’s Captain Intangible to mere mortals like you and me!

  21. Adam S on October 25th, 2004 6:15 pm

    Joshua, I don’t have access to EQA numbers. Can you post them year-by-year?

    Looking at some basic stats like OBP (yes, I know it’s very simple), I have to believe his peak was 2000 or at least that 2000 is clearly better than 1999. That means there are only four seasons since then for him to decline??

    As well, I suspect by any measure the decline from 2000 – 2003 is very small. No matter how you slice it though, he was far from an A-Rod season in 2004. (And since he’s now a good 3B instead of a gold glove SS, he’s not really “(one of) the best (10) players in baseball” anymore is he?). I think he’ll bounce back next year; I suspect the position change and pressure of playing in NY really took a toll on him.

  22. Jonathan on October 25th, 2004 6:19 pm

    Beltran’s a Dodger. I’ll betcha

  23. Gary on October 25th, 2004 6:38 pm

    Actually, I think “disingenious” is an apt (if fortuitous) neologism. It implies a person who isn’t really ingenious despite his pretenses, and that describes A-Rod to a T.

    Can anybody think of a better neologism for him than that?

  24. The Ancient Mariner on October 25th, 2004 7:06 pm

    It needs to be pointed out that his contract isn’t really a 10-year, $252-million contract, nor is he actually making $25 mil/season. A lot of the big numbers are in the last three years of the contract, which were basically put in there as a smokescreen to suit Bora$’ ego; the team can get out of those years, and Tom Hicks came out right after the signing and flatly said that the Rangers had no intention of paying them (and intended to use that as leverage to renegotiate after six). You can never be sure with the Yankees, of course, but there’s no real reason to think they will, either.

  25. itea on October 25th, 2004 9:55 pm

    karen – The 5 year period is 1996-2000. In those 5 years, ARod made by year:
    442 + 1,063 + 2,163 + 3,113 + 4,363 or ~11.2 million in total.

    Going by the salaries at baseball-reference, here are the Mariners who made cumulatively more (as Mariners) than Alex did over that span:

    Randy Johnson
    Ken Griffey
    Jay Buhner
    Edgar Martinez
    Dan Wilson
    Jeff Fassero
    Jamie Moyer

    By this method, Alex would rate as the 8th highest paid Mariner over that span.

    If we were to use his average salary instead (2.24 million/year), here are the Mariners (in addition to the 7 above) who had a higher mean salary (as a Mariner) during that span:

    Chris Bosio
    Arthur Rhodes
    Mark Leiter
    Kaz Sasaki
    Jose Mesa
    David Segui
    Heathcliff Slocumb
    Norm Charlton

    So by that measure, he had the 16th highest average salary as a Mariner over that span of time.

    Perhaps 400 is an exaggeration; I did not research every major league team. I would not want to argue semantics about what “much higher than 400th best” means. But he had the 16th highest per-year average salary for the Mariners over that period. While some of these players would be duplicated if the same research was done across the whole league, I would be surprised if there were not at least 200 major league players who averaged more than 2.2 million per year for the seasons they played from 1996-2000.

    As for “whining a lot” about what he made as a Mariner – can you provide a link or three? Or is this just from your memory? I don’t at all deny that it’s possible, but I follow baseball pretty closely and I don’t remember him saying anything that I would consider as whining.

    – Itea

  26. itea on October 25th, 2004 10:16 pm

    DMZ – Is anyone a fan of the Hideaway? It’s just 40 minutes closer than the Shoot if you live anywhere north of the ship canal… It’s also got the worst ambient smoke problem of any card room I’ve ever been in (an embarrasingly long list).

    I agree that you were very unlucky on the hand.

    – I

  27. Paul Covert on October 25th, 2004 10:37 pm

    A-Rod’s DT page is at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/dt/rodrial01.shtml . Joshua (#64) is correct; his EQA’s since 2000 have gone .346, .335, .327, .324, and .312. He missed a couple weeks with an injury in July 2000, which cut down his counting stats for that year. The Texas offensive environment also pushed up his raw stats while he was there. Also, in 2004, his VORP-type value estimates take a hit due to the Yanks’ lame decision to keep Jeter at short (though that doesn’t affect his EQA).

    His VORP’s since 2000 have gone 111.1, 111.6, 94.7, 96.3, 63.0, which better matches Adam’s intuition as expressed in #71. Nevertheless, Joshua’s main point seems correct; the odds are against him getting back to his 2000-01 level, although I expect him to age better than Griffey due to his level of conditioning.

    (Also re. #64: Apologies for the self-promotion, but after the Griffey trade in 2000, I wrote up my thoughts [kindly published by Neyer as a guest article on robneyer.com; that was before I was into BP], in which I noticed the slow decline from his peak in 1997, and predicted about six games a year of value from him, so that three years of Cameron would likely be worth one year of Griffey. No, I didn’t see Griffey’s injuries coming! Also, Cameron turned out better than I expected; but given that everybody else at the time was saying the M’s got fleeced, I think I did okay on that one.)

    But no, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to spot Alex’s decline before this year. Kudos to anybody that did. He’s still a legitimate all-star, of course; but not an MVP, not unless he returns to his prior offensive level (and, ideally, to the shortstop position). He’ll still be a Hall of Famer; but he may not end up challenging Honus Wagner’s position in the mythical “inner circle” after all, as I had thought he might.

    Of course, with the sweetheart deal the Yanks got from Texas (and with the New York economy), he can probably justify the NY portion of his contract even at his 2004 level. Texas’ choice to eat a chunk of his contract in the trade was, I think, a far worse decision than signing him to the deal in the first place.

  28. tyler on October 25th, 2004 11:02 pm

    Paul C, and others… interesting facts on his decline.

    And as for the salary thing, I couldn’t believe how much the Rangers paid to get rid of him. Just seemed like at that rate, it was worth keeping him, if only so that you get back something on your investment. Just saying goodbye to 8 mil? a year to give the Yankees a guy they essentially pay 15 mil or so… idiotic. Because at that point, you ask yourself is he worth 15 mil a year. I would say yes, w/o a doubt. Especially compared to saying your better to give that much money away to NOT have him? Huh?

    Oh wait… nm. texas. it’s Enron accounting!!!!! ;O

  29. itea on October 25th, 2004 11:31 pm

    tyler –

    A couple thoughts about your earlier questions.

    First, I think “corrupt” is a pretty strong word to use for Rodriguez. I don’t know him personally, but when I think of corruption I think of something much darker than his public persona, which I don’t view as particularly extreme for an athlete.

    Second, I never looked up to ARod or Kobe (or any other athlete). I appreciate that Kobe has the athletic ability to do things on a basketball court that I can only dream about, and I appreciated that Alex ran out every ground ball I saw him hit as a Mariner, but that appreciation stops at the end of the game. There are some athletes that I truly believe either to be nice guys or to have views and convictions that I respect, but they are few and far between. Robert Smith (of the Vikings) would be a good example; I also think a lot of Greg Ostertag for donating his kidney, though I realize there are millions of people in the world who would do the same for a sibling. There are others – they tend to be the guys who give lots of money to worthy charities or stand up for unpopular opinions that I agree with. And there are people I hear interviewed from time to time that I think sound like good guys; more often with college athletes.

    AI and TO? Hmm. I appreciate that TO speaks his mind, but I think that if he had good judgement he’d shut his mouth instead of talking bad about his former teammates. There’s two sides to it, and it can be refreshing to hear an athlete be candid. However, there are many ways to be candid besides ripping your former mates. AI is someone who just loves to play ball, and I do as well (I’d rather play mediocre pickup basketball than watch the World Series), but I doubt we’d have too much other stuff in common. I guess we both have daughters.

    As far as the cult of sports celebrity goes, and maybe one of the reasons I’m “sticking up” for ARod here, I concur with Bill James in his Pete Rose comment in his Historical Abstract. My copy is being borrowed right now, but his point is along the lines of he never bought into the myth of Pete Rose, so when it was discovered he had feet of Clay he didn’t have to tear him down because he hadn’t been fooled in the first place.

    I have to confess, I do have a slight personal opinion on ARod. I remember once that in 99 or so he was interviewed, and he was asked who he would have dinner with if he could pick anyone from the history of mankind (I believe I’m remembering this correctly, though it possibly could have been restricted to someone living). His answer was “Pat Riley” – and I just thought that was such a shallow, shallow choice. So while I don’t dislike Alex, I do have to cop to a small amount of disdain.

    – Itea

  30. tyler on October 26th, 2004 6:56 am

    i haven’t looked up to an athlete in a long time… well.. maybe Randy Johnson and Shaq… okay… quite a few… (i’m 6’4″)

    I didn’t mean you or I. I meant the “youth” who would look up to him.

    Interesting Bill James connection. Personally I think Rose should be in the Hall, along with Ty Cobb, in the ***hole Wing. Great players, somewhat corrupt human beings. Yes, corrupt is a tad hyperbolish for A-rod. How about “impure.” Meant the same, just not as strong.

    And I gotta go with a Round Table dinner, and a quick flip would be this group: Shakespeare, Sun Tzu, Ghandi, plus Eminem and Puck from the Real World– simply for randomness’ sake. (wouldn’t it be great to see Will S. and Marshall Mathers talking poetry, then get interrupted by Puck siting in Ghandi’s seat and throwing all the butter at everyone?)

  31. Evan on October 26th, 2004 9:45 am

    The Rangers made a TERRIBLE deal is getting rid of A-Rod. Ignoring his total lack of class, A-Rod was worth that big contract. There’s no way the Rangers could have spread that money around and gotten as much value. It wasn’t A-Rod’s contract that was bringing down the Rangers – it was Park’s and Zimmerman’s and all the others given the lousy players.

  32. Joshua Buergel on October 26th, 2004 10:01 am

    “Joshua, I don’t have access to EQA numbers. Can you post them year-by-year?”

    Here’s the comparison I was looking at. First, Griffey, from 1997 on (these are the rates adjusted for season, not-all time, which is why the numbers I’m posting will differ slightly from those above):


    Note that .324 isn’t his highest EQA, 1994 was (.331). Now, A-Rod, from 2000 on (yes, 2000 is his best year so far):


    I’m not saying this means anything, it’s just a very selective and very thumbnail comparison. I’m just thinking that Griffey took four years to go from .324 to .301, and I distinctly remember thinking at the time that I thought he’d come back and have some more big years. I’ve been thinking the same thing about A-Rod as well, that he still has some big years left, but maybe not? My image of players tends to change slowly. I’ll get stuck in the mode of thinking about a player as “best in the league” or “all-star” or whatever mental tag gets hung on them (“jerk”), and it takes a while for that tag to change to match reality sometimes. Mostly, I’m just priming the mental pump here so I can downgrade Alex’s status in my head as quickly as possibly if his decline is for real.

  33. msb on October 26th, 2004 10:36 am

    #75- “The 5 year period is 1996-2000. In those 5 years, ARod made by year: 442 + 1,063 + 2,163 + 3,113 + 4,363 or ~11.2 million in total. Going by the salaries at baseball-reference, here are the Mariners who made cumulatively more (as Mariners) than Alex did over that span [snip]”

    FWIW, see below for more contract info. Remember, in 1996 Alex first won the starting SS job, and by mid-season they were negotiationg for a long-term deal. You will notice the one thing in common with all the players you listed was that they were all at least 5 years older, with many more service years, so their pay scale had risen accordingly.

    The Seattle Times
    August 11, 1996
    Scott Boras, Rodriguez’s agent, started at $14 million. The Mariners opened at $7 million. They wound up splitting the difference. The Mariners were fair-plus, telling Boras they would treat Alex as a player with two-plus years service time when he probably will fall short next year and not be eligible for salary arbitration.
    “He wanted to talk about it, and I was the only guy in here who could relate to what he was going through,” said Griffey, who earned about $12.5 million for a like period, years three through six of his Mariner career. “I told him it was a good deal.”
    Seattle’s perennial All-Star center fielder asked the shortstop if he thought there was any man in the Mariner clubhouse who would turn down a chance to lock in $10.5 million at age 21.
    “Not one,” Griffey said. “Everyone would say yes. I’d have taken it . . . although I’m glad I didn’t get a chance to at that time.” At 22, Griffey signed a four-year, $24 million contract. “But the beauty of Alex’s deal is that he’s only 25 when it’s over,” the outfielder said. “There’s lots of time for more.”
    That was Rodriguez’s rationale for agreeing to the deal that jumps him from the minimum $109,000 this year, the final year of his original 1993 amateur draft deal, to $900,000, $2 million, $3 million and $4.2 million, plus $450,000 to sign and $600,000 in possible incentives.
    “Money was not even close to being the main issue,” said the infielder, who already has broken Mariner offensive records for shortstops. “It was all about fairness.”
    In keeping with this stance, Rodriguez dictated his desires to Boras, one of pro sports’ toughest negotiators. “Scott did a great job for me and in doing his job he told me I could have gotten a lot more . . . I didn’t want more. I wanted to be happy and I am very happy.”

    “As for “whining a lot” about what he made as a Mariner – can you provide a link or three? Or is this just from your memory? I don’t at all deny that it’s possible, but I follow baseball pretty closely and I don’t remember him saying anything that I would consider as whining.”– Itea

    after the Mariners had offered contract extentions in both ’98 & ’99 (and been turned down) there was this, from the Times, Sept. 26, 1999:
    “Instead, Rodriguez can now say, and has: “I can leave the Mariners if I have to, and not feel any guilt I otherwise might. I’ve given them years at money so obviously in their favor it sounds like a joke.””

  34. Itea on October 26th, 2004 10:45 am

    msb, karen – I would have thought this so obvious it didn’t need mentioning, but of course Alex was getting artificially low money because of the CBA. Everyone understands that his contract was very big for a player of his experience. That doesn’t really affect what I said – he was one of the best five players in the game from 96-00 (and I think that’s a conservative estimate) yet there were hundreds of players making more than him (I will back down from 400; I am confident about 200 based on my last post).

    karen – Alex was not arbitration-eligible when he signed his first bigger contract, according to msb.

    msb – I’d call that half a whine. It’s actually quite candid (of course, the conventional wisdom on Alex is that if he is candid he’s a jerk, and if he’s bland he’s a phony). I don’t think it’s a full whine because I don’t think there’s any negativity associated with the team in that statement. If he’d said “they’ve underpaid me so much it’s a joke” it would be a lot different, but the subject in his quote is “I”, so it seems clear that he understands it was his choice.

    – Itea

  35. bluefish tuna on October 26th, 2004 12:04 pm

    It’s fun for me to hear speculation that Steinbrenner will go crazy and crank up his payroll to an unseemly 250 million, or really anything above 200, like someone striving for perfection with his 20th plastic surgery operation, but if Brian Cashman was being honest on a WFAN radio interview, the Yankees operated at or near their profit loss margin this season with their 180 mil payroll and because they failed to go the World Series, actually totaled a loss for this season. In essence, taking on the large salary chunks comprised in Sheffield, A-rod, Brown and Vasquez were a calculated risk on their part and a relatively smart one considering the talent added or Steinbrenner just went crazy after losing another world series and was willing to absorb a possible loss.

    But if they’re pushing their budget to the seams at 180, going up to 200 in player salary in addition to over 40 million in luxury tax payments might be asking too much. But Steinbrenner seems like a different creature so who knows. But in any case, I doubt the Yankees have the money to buy the most expensive position player and at the same time upgrade their roation and bullpen. Cashman, in the same WFAN interview, said pitching will be their focus. It might be an inexact fascisimile of an either-or scenario for the Yanks unless they can unload Giambi and Brown and the only way for that might be to pay other teams but will they have the money? It may be foolish, but the Yanks don’t seem as formidable financially as they used to.

  36. sidereal on October 26th, 2004 2:26 pm

    And reason #214 that I will never be a competitive Holdem player.
    I could never, ever, ever muck a flopped nut full house. That takes guts twice as hard as mine.

    I might stop raising, though. In fact, I do that too much. That’s reason #215. I’ll just keep my money in my wallet, thanks.

  37. msb on October 26th, 2004 2:36 pm

    Bavasi has shown up a couple of places the last few days, and to summarise/paraphrase what he seems to feel they need to accomplish this offseason — or at least what he will say in public:

    -bring power in, likely at the 1st/3rd/outfield position(s). Lopez may project to another position in the future, but they are going to leave him at short this year– unless there is a chance to improve at SS; they are fine with Randy in center, but have no problem at all moving him to left (with Raul at 1st) if they can improve their outfield (and left the impression that Winn wasn’t indispensible to the club); and he would like to have the club strengthened enough that Spiezio could be an off the bench/occasional starter.

    -a reliever; prob. not a closer per-se, but a pitcher who could set-up with the make-up to close. He feels they have holes elsewhere to spend money on than on another closer, and fingers crossed on Eddie, who with the rehab will either be ready next week, or not at all…

    -1 or 2 starters; what they have are #3-5’s and as he feels there are only a handful of true #1s out there (and Pedro isn’t one of them any more), they are looking to get someone from the pool of #2s that will be on the market

  38. Jonathan on October 26th, 2004 5:06 pm

    Before ’04, others did say that A-Rod was particularly ill-suited for Yankee stadium offensively.

    That said, SS’s tend to peak younger than 27 (or so I understand)

  39. Rebecca Allen on October 26th, 2004 8:38 pm

    I was skeptical before the playoffs that the M’s would be serious about getting top-tier free agents, but now I’m absolutely sure they won’t. Why? The Yankees just suffered one of the most embarrassing collapses in baseball history, and they don’t have anything coming up from the farm system. Steinbrenner’s history in such situations is well known: he’ll be spending money like a drunken sailor on free agents. No way the M’s tightfisted owners keep up.

  40. eponymous coward on October 26th, 2004 10:01 pm

    The fact is the Yankees aren’t getting $200 million of production from their roster, and we should all stop cowering in fear from it.

    They’ve managed to saddle themselves with enough contracts where money spent >>>> performance (Giambi, Williams, Jeter, Brown, etc.) and have enough players who are teetering on the edge of their decline phase that they don’t scare me any more. They remind me of the early 80’s Yankees, who overspent on FA’s like Dave Collins to no avail, because the farm system sucked.

    There’s a compelling argument that the Yankees were better when their home-grown talent was at the peak of their game in the late 90’s and 2000- Pettite, Rivera, Williams, Jeter, Posada, surrounded by good COMPLEMENTARY talent (Clemens, Wells, O’Neill), as opposed to trying to make it work with older “All-Star” players like Giambi and Brown and a declining home-grown talent base. The lack of productivity from the Yankee farm system is surely going to haunt them before too long- you simply can’t pick up players in their decline phase as free agents and keep winning without some infusion of young talent (see: 2004 Mariners).

  41. Adam S on October 26th, 2004 10:14 pm

    I think the Yankees pursuit of Beltran depends on what happens with other players on the team. The argument is that they have a lot of money tied up in Williams, Lofton, and Giambi to play CF/DH and signing Beltran puts two of them on the bench. However, Sheffield has hinted at retiring — opening a hole and freeing $$$. It’s possible Giambi won’t be back; we won’t know until the spring but the Yankees probably have a much better sense than they let on about whether he’ll recover enough to play and if he can play 1B.

  42. Bela Txadux on October 27th, 2004 12:18 am

    Re: the media’s East Coast bias, they talk to where their money is, folks. Baseball is life or death from Baltimore to the Great Lakes and almost as important as, well _football_ in the Midwest. There is a culture of playing, watching, and being a crank for baseball in those parts that does back to the _1850s_. The media is biased fundamentally because that is where their hit rate online says the fans are. That is where they’re call-in volume on the radio says the listeners are. That is where they’re Nielsen share on the tube says the fans _always have the godbox on AND DEEP INTO THE GAME, too_. Prior to Safeco beinb built, no way was Seattle a baseball town; the locals (lived here seventeen years, but) didn’t have a clue about what a good game and what a good team looks like. Is the media bias fair? Absolutely not, and yes sheer laziness is a significant part of it, BUT they are preaching to the audience to which they know there are numerous, lucrative advertisers attached—that is the fundamental reality. Media doesn’t give jack about telling anyone anything, it’s a profit-making proposition, and the West Coast is out there hugging mountains, surfing freeways, or generally enjoying the planet’s plenitude when east of the Mississippi eleventy-seven lifelong fans with a few beers in them are grinding on over a foul ball from the ’81 season—while listening to the media feed them crumbs about it between adverts. Just do the math, too, the media already has.

    Re: Alex. The problem is that the man is too rich and too comfortable. A-Rod is tremendously talented. He does play hard and to win, always. He’s big on ‘me,’ but he likes to lead and does tend to come through for the ‘we’ of his team, regardless of which team that is in any given year. But seriously, his contract has, what?, six years to go, at $25M per. He is soooooooo rich, and so comfortable, that it is too easy to fall into the ‘I’m just more important than anything, and nobody can touch me’ groove, even though I do not think that this is his natural headspace. He _was_ a decent human being in his years here in Dulcet-by-the-Sound, if one with a keen eye on his image at the time, and I don’t think that he’s forgotten how. He lives every hour of every day now walled off from the real world as one of the super rich (well, not quite, but his fame is enough to compensate for the _other_ half a billion dollars). All this is erroding his ability to see a situation anyway but HIS way, in my view; after all, he spends most of his life now with sychophants everywhere saying Yessir, Mr. Rodriguez, anything your superrich, superfamous ass says, sir. It tends to cause one to lose perspective, let us say. He’s not editing his comments or behavior nearly as well now, and it’s getting to the point of hurting his team as well as his image. I suspect he’s going to have to crash into an immovable object before he wises up, but it will be (almost) interesting to see what happens next.

  43. Mimiru on October 27th, 2004 1:05 am

    Hey, that’s why he’s with Bora$

  44. DMZ on October 27th, 2004 2:05 am

    Prior to Safeco beinb built, no way was Seattle a baseball town; the locals (lived here seventeen years, but) didn’t have a clue about what a good game and what a good team looks like.

    If you’re making a subjective judgement, I think it’s wrong but your own business, but to compare Seattle to East Coast cities and say that people weren’t enthusiastic about baseball, even before Safeco, is wrong.

    Fans turned out in huge numbers to see the team before Safeco Field was built. In 1995, in the Kingdome, they drew 1.6m fans, in the middle of the AL pack, packed houses late in the season.

    In 1996, in the Kingdome, they drew 2.7m fans, 4th in the AL.
    In 1997, in the Kingdome, they drew 3.2m fans, 3rd in the AL.
    In 1998, in the Kingdome, they drew 2.7m fans, 5th in the AL.

    By contrast, the team drew 2.9m fans this year, and that’s the “tickets sold” number too.

    The Mariners in Safeco this year were outdrawn by a team in the Kingdome.

    This town became a baseball town before Safeco Field. Turning into a baseball town built Safeco Field.

  45. Joshua Buergel on October 27th, 2004 11:14 am

    And, if I’m not mistaken, Mariners local broadcasts have annually been among the highest rated anywhere for years now. I distinctly recall reading during the 2001 season that Mariners broadcasts had the highest number of raw viewers among local broadcasts anywhere. If the media were following Nielson ratings, you’d be hearing a lot more about the Mariners.

  46. Karen on October 28th, 2004 9:47 am

    Don’t forget the support for the old Seattle Rainiers, too…in the old Pacific Coast League that preceded MLB franchises in San Francisco, etc. too. Baseball has been in Seattle for a LONG time.

    Kudos to msb, who responded (#83) in such a timely manner to Itea about ARod’s “relative worth” and his post-2000-contract-signing comments about his Mariner salary (I’ve been busy! …watching the Red Sox play like gangbusters…a very gratifying entertainment)

    Itea, referring to your (#75) reply and later, your response (#84) to msb (#83): We’ll have to agree to disagree about what I called a whine and what you called a half-whine by ARod. I felt that he knew what he was saying would be taken by a lot of people as twisting the knife in the M’s organization’s “back”. That’s the way I felt it was meant. You see a little more benignity in his statement, I guess.

    I’m glad you revised your figures from “400th best” to “200th best” in terms of where ARod’s second contract value falls. I’d put it a bit higher, even…about 150th…but that’s just off the top of my head after looking through several tables at several different sites. Either way (200th or 150th), it merely narrows the gap between ARod’s (and Boras’) perception of his “underpayment” and the reality of where his contract value landed.

    Might I add here that in retrospect and in comparison to ARod, Junior Griffey’s perceived “whining” about all the things that bothered him while a Mariner and during his present stint as a Red seem to be mere personality quirks, when you compare how he’s “played the game” to that of ARod.

    I’m referring to that one beyotch slap by ARod in the ALCS. Funny how one little action, and the excuses and blaming of others that followed, can separate the course of two careers so much. In his long career Junior has never, ever done anything so blatantly in poor sportsmanship and compounded it afterwards by excuses.

  47. Itea on October 28th, 2004 11:37 am

    karen –

    In the interest of being specific – his second contract alone probably does fall in the 150th range – however, the time period I discussed also includes 1996, which brings the average salary down considerably. FOr a rough approximation, I took his average salary over the 5 years (96-00) and looked at every baseball-reference.com team page for 1998 (the midpoint) and counted how many players made more than that figure. There were over 200, it would have been 210th or so. So I think your 150th posit can’t possibly be accurate. Looking at median salaries for the years involved isn’t the best way to calculate where his average salary ranks, because the salary distributions in baseball are such that a player often goes a few years below the median before getting jacked up to a rate so high that after a year or two his mean salary for the entire span is well above average.

    As far as the rest – we do disagree. As I’ve stated more than once, I don’t like Alex on a personal level, I just don’t despise him. If you’re an Alex-hater, which perhaps you are, then you take him hitting the ball out of the glove along with his post-game comments and immediately decide it’s a character-defining moment that backs up your feeling that he’s a bad person. You use words like “beyotch slap” because it has a demeaning connotation, and you phrase your wording in a way to belittle him. That’s rhetoric, not argument.

    For the record, I have nothing against Junior either. He’s been depressed, and more than once to the point of paranoia, but that doesn’t make him a bad person in my book. The people I dislike are people who take actions that are clearly mean, or say things that seem hateful or hypocritical.

    Is there anything Alex could ever do that would make you say something nice about him (“he only donated his heart to that dying child so that he could get good press”)? If not, I think your opinion is worthless. Jumping on his Game 6 actions reminds me of Drudge or Limbaugh pouncing on any tiny transgression by a “liberal”.

    – Itea