Scorekeeping disclaimer: The “Scorekeeping” articles on this blog are not to make libelous claims against anyone for calling out one player for not hustling. It’s an attempt to collect data over a several-year period and take notes on what was said, who said it and why it was said. Before you read this post, know that my intentions aren’t to put the spotlight on broadcasters who use a loaded word, but to see why this word is loaded in our beloved sport and if the claims against it (that terms like “hustle” and “grit” are used primarily in favor of white players and against non-white players) are true.
This isn’t even that scientific of a study and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Read the first Scorekeeping article here and then read the comments for the updates.
Yunel Escobar has been chastised this past week for work ethic, so to update Scorekeeping, here’s what I’ve come across.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an interesting article about Escobar’s lack of hustle. Consider reading Bradley’s full article:
Escobar got thrown out because he watched the flight of the ball and admired his work, as opposed to running hard. The Braves noticed. The Braves always noticed. As one man in the clubhouse said afterward, exasperation in his voice: “He has been told time and time again.”
About the trade: This isn’t an exchange of equal talent. Alex Gonzalez is a serviceable big-league shortstop who played on a World Series winner with Florida in 2003 and delivered the biggest hit — a walk-off homer in Game 4 — of the Series. He’s 33, which means he’s not a long-term answer.
Maybe you noticed this, but it looks like Bradley had a great opportunity to note how big of a “gamer” A-Gon is or how much “grit” A-Gon has in that second paragraph, yet didn’t.
Read more (much more) after the jump.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News notes Escobar wasn’t well-liked, from his article “Escobar trade raises divisional, cultural issues.”
This is Bobby Cox’s last year, the Braves are serious contenders, and Escobar is not well-liked on the team because of a persistent lack of hustle. “Bobby hates Escobar,” a Brave told me earlier this season. “Escobar doesn’t have a lot of friends in the clubhouse.”
I’m a little shocked he didn’t cite the anonymous source on the “hustle” part. But then he kinda broke down the fourth wall about this kind of talk:
That made me think about the complaints that white players often lodge off-the-record about their Hispanic colleagues, comments that betray thoughtless acceptance of egeregious stereotypes: they don’t hustle, they show off too much, etc. Jose Reyes has long been disliked by many opponents because of his antics, and the whole “Los Mets” thing prompted much xenophobia from the fan base a few years ago.
There are clearly opposing sets of behavioral norms among baseball players. Many white players value buttoned-down American modesty, a sort of Gary Cooper vibe carried into a new century. This, of course, appeals to many white fans, and creates the impression that anything different is worse.
That is not fair, but it also doesn’t change the fact that Yunel Escobar actually didn’t play hard at times, and was not helping the Braves despite his talent and potential. It is important to remember, though, that his lack of hustle was a personality flaw, not a cultural one. Complicated stuff, but the discussion it inspires is one more reason to find sports interesting.
Way to raise good talking points, Andy.
Phil Sheridan of Philly.com posted something similar today, without the thought-provoking comment that Martino made:
Gonzalez has an uncharacteristically high 17 home runs already this season. Escobar had an absurd and abnormal zero. Gonzalez has driven in 50 runs playing in the pressure-free atmosphere of Toronto. Escobar has driven in just 19 runs. On top of that, he has angered some fans by failing to hustle or play the right way on more than one occasion.
Sheridan went on to say this was a “win-now” move and that Escobar can rebuild his status in Toronto. At least he’s allowing for growth.
And Bob Klapisch of the NorthJersey.com (from The Record of Bergen County, NJ) chimes in.
And don’t underestimate what the Braves’ swap of shortstops will do for the team’s chemistry. The fact that the Braves were willing to deal 27-year Yunel Escobar for Alex Gonzalez, who is six years older, tells you Bobby Cox had finally lost patience with Escobar’s indifference and lack of hustle.
Marlon Byrd was complimented several times over for his play in the All-Star Game this past Tuesday and although it didn’t quite reach the proportions of Escobar’s situation, I’m glad he was appreciated.
Bleed Cubbie Blue, the Chicago Cubs SB Nation blog, took note that the world got to see what Byrd is made of:
Cubs All-Star Marlon Byrd Shows Baseball World His Hustle In NL’s 3-1 Victory
If only everyone played baseball the way Marlon Byrd does.
He hustles on every play. I’ve heard it said that he thinks double every time he gets a clean hit to the outfield. He’s always doing it with a smile on his face. Imagine that — a millionaire professional athlete actually enjoying what he’s doing on the field.
I wouldn’t say BCB is as large-market as what Bob Klapisch or anyone writes for, but that was a good start.
Then we have Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (and more specifically Cubs.com), who added this in her article titled “Cubs seek more sensible second half” published yesterday.
Marlon Byrd also made a good first impression in the first year of his three-year deal with the Cubs, ranking among the NL leaders in batting average, doubles and total hits. His hustle has inspired Alfonso Soriano, who is finally healthy, and back leading the Cubs in home runs.
Good to see him get his due for such great work.