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Thursday, April 22, 2021

What it really means when white sportswriters talk about lack of hustle

Torres did not run hard on a check-swing tapper back to the mound, it’s true. You can understand his frustration, being 11-for-59 on the season with no homers and 15 strikeouts, while also struggling defensively at shortstop.

At the same time, it’s 17 games into the season. Torres is a two-time All-Star, already at the age of 24. He’ll break out of it in time, as will the Yankees from their teamwide malaise. It’s tough to watch in the meantime, but it’s just about patience.

Or, for Andy Martino of SNY, Torres can be made the scapegoat. The idea here is that “It’s not a birthright to start games for the New York Yankees, even if you’re one of the most talented players on the team. It might be worth a shot for the front office to remind the entire group that these jobs must be earned on a daily basis.”

That’s right, the Yankees should send Torres to the minor league alternate site, and install Tyler Wade, an objectively worse player, at shortstop, in order to cure their slow start.

“The Yankees’ problems are not nearly all Torres’ fault,” Martino wrote. “But he’s optionable, struggling, and showing a lack of hustle.”

The language of “not a birthright” borders on a dog whistle. “Lack of hustle,” well, that’s giving up the game on how baseball works when it’s time to find someone to shoulder the blame for an entire team’s woes.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 22, 2021 at 11:34 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gleyber torres, hustle

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Jobu is silent on the changeup Posted: April 22, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6014925)
The snippet mentions "not a birthright" and "lack of hustle" but my radar was just as tripped by calling him one of the "most talented" players on the team rather than "best". He's an accomplished major-leaguer, not some kid selling potential. I'm not advocating the tarring and feathering of Mr. Martino (whoever he is) but I'm not denying that these stories aren't necessarily written proportionally.
   2. Brian C Posted: April 22, 2021 at 12:20 PM (#6014930)
Damn, is this ever fatuous.
   3. John Northey Posted: April 22, 2021 at 12:34 PM (#6014934)
It is silly how writers go straight to 'disaster' a few weeks into a season. Fans too. Wonder if he'd have said the same about Saint Jeter in 2004 when he was hitting 209/284/254 after 16 games? Or 161/247/195 after 21 games? Yankees were 10-11 then in 3rd place. They went 91-50 (won division then blew a 3-0 lead to Red Sox in playoffs) after with Jeter hitting 313/368/514.

Only a fool puts too much weight on stats after 10-20 games. A massive fool would demote a star based on those stats.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: April 22, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6014949)
meh
   5. Zach Posted: April 22, 2021 at 02:00 PM (#6014951)
Deadspin really is clickbait journalism at its worst.

.180 hitter on a last place team shows conspicuously bad effort on a play, but the real problem is you for noticing!

It's narcissism disguised as sports. The only subject you really care about is you, so if we make every story into a story about you, maybe you'll give us a click!
   6. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: April 22, 2021 at 02:18 PM (#6014953)
Deadspin really is clickbait journalism at its worst.
this is a terrible take.

firstly, deadspin doesn't exist anymore. it was kind of a thing. implying that the current site has any connection to the original is factually and holistically erroneous.

secondly, this is not clickbait. clickbait implies a deceitful headline/picture that gets random people on social medias to mindlessly click the link. this is not that.

thirdly, this is more akin to a skip bayless-esque outrage bait. this is also pretty deceitful, because it's conceived not to advance a point of view, but to outrage people who hold the opposite point of view. or...

fourth, the people who currently work at "deadspin" are just not very good at their jobs, which is why they were desperate enough to work for that hemorrhaging carcass, rather than an entity that didn't just have its entire writing staff quit en mass because of its shitbag owner.


fifth: the writers and editors who quit deadspin started their own media company (website), which can be found at defector.com. it's probably as good/bad as you remember it being, but whichever side you're on, "deadspin" is dead.
   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 22, 2021 at 03:28 PM (#6014961)
It’s a bit silly to make too much of Torres slow start - or that of the Yankees, Haven’t noticed Torres lack of hustle rising to the Robinson Cano level, which was a bit maddening but tolerated because he was otherwise a great player. Nothing wrong with a sportswriter noting Torres level of effort - I doubt if it would be overlooked if it involved another prominent player amidst a team-wide slump. The effort to inject race or national origin into the story is a stretch. As usual, those claiming to hear a ‘dog whistle’ are the dogs.
   8. Brian C Posted: April 22, 2021 at 03:33 PM (#6014963)
Nothing wrong with a sportswriter noting Torres level of effort - I doubt if it would be overlooked if it involved another prominent player amidst a team-wide slump.

As TFA actually notes before hand-waving it away, noted Latino Bryce Harper has been called out on this lately too.
As usual, those claiming to hear a ‘dog whistle’ are the dogs.

In fairness, the writer did not call it a dog whistle. He said that it "borders on a dog whistle." Because, you know ... whatever that even means.
   9. Astroenteritis Posted: April 22, 2021 at 05:15 PM (#6014971)
the writers and editors who quit deadspin started their own media company (website), which can be found at defector.com.


Thanks for mentioning this, I hadn't discovered it yet.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6014978)
The baseball question though is whether Torres' problems are bigger than a slump. He wasn't great (wasn't bad) with the bat in 2020 either. It's now just 3 HR in his last 228 PA. His avg EV and hard hit at the moment are terrible. Of course maybe that's what slumps have always looked like but it seems less promising than somebody who's slumping while putting up their typical EV, etc. -- the latter looks like bad luck, Torres seems to have a problem. It may be an easily fixable problem or maybe not. Interestingly (and maybe unimportantly), his BB rate took a big jump last year and has repeated this year but the ISO dropped badly last year and cratered this year. Maybe he's being too passive.

Leaving aside the race/ethnic/hustle issue, benching a young star who just did something like that for a game or two is common coaching practice. Bobby Cox pulled Andruw Jones mid-game for a lack of hustle. It's also common practice to give a slumping player a couple of days off, maybe to relieve pressure, maybe to give him a couple of days to work on something with the hitting coach.

Meanwhile his defense ... at SS, TZ says he's average, DRS says he's -15/year, UZR has him at -10/150 and statcast around -5/150. Lots to choose from there.
   11. Zach Posted: April 22, 2021 at 06:07 PM (#6014983)
6 -- fair points all. My objections are to the manipulative qualities of the article.

And in the big picture, a player dogging it on the occasional play is a minor and fixable sin.

But having said that, getting mad at a player for poor effort is any fan's right and trying to turn it around like this is baiting. If you want to defend Torres, say he was giving an appropriate effort (he wasn't) or just accept his apology and move on.
   12. Shohei Brotani (formerly LA Hombre) Posted: April 22, 2021 at 06:13 PM (#6014985)
fourth, the people who currently work at "deadspin" are just not very good at their jobs, which is why they were desperate enough to work for that hemorrhaging carcass, rather than an entity that didn't just have its entire writing staff quit en mass because of its shitbag owner.
It took old Deadspin a long time to grow into a genuinely worthwhile Internet presence, and only a few days for the site owners to completely obliterate it. New Deadspin is basically the Steve Buscemi HowDoYouDoFellowKids meme.
   13. JJ1986 Posted: April 22, 2021 at 06:40 PM (#6014987)
Original Deadspin was pretty terrible too, but I have really grown to like Will Leitch.
   14. Shohei Brotani (formerly LA Hombre) Posted: April 22, 2021 at 07:39 PM (#6014993)
Original Deadspin was like a monkey banging on keyboards, but they — and I use this word lightly — matured to the extent that they recognized their own previous misogyny and a-holery, something that most other alt-sports pages like Barstool never have, and I give them credit for that. They also gave space to some legitimately good sports reporting, and the way they were able to get under ESPN's skin while doing so tickled me. Haven't been back since the purge, though. I don't know what they're doing now.
   15. villageidiom Posted: April 22, 2021 at 08:02 PM (#6014997)
“The Yankees’ problems are not nearly all Torres’ fault,” Martino wrote. “But he’s optionable, struggling, and showing a lack of hustle.”
Just because someone following the Yankees makes a very dumb suggestion doesn't mean he's racist. People following the Yankees make dumb suggestions all the time.* It's hard to look at Martino's comments and pick them out as egregious when it's a drop in a bucket, in a dumpster, at the bottom of the ocean.

* Likewise for any other teams, or in any sport. But the emphasis here, consistent with the subject of this article, is the Yankees.

Rather than continue to rip on TFA, let me pose this question: What is the Yankees' path to success? What changes within their organization should they make to turn things around? Or is it just a matter of waiting it out - in other words, that the ship will right itself?
   16. Brian C Posted: April 22, 2021 at 08:08 PM (#6014999)
Like good and decent people all over the world, I'd much rather rip on Deadspin than actually discuss the Yankees.
   17. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: April 22, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6015000)
Rather than continue to rip on TFA, let me pose this question: What is the Yankees' path to success? What changes within their organization should they make to turn things around? Or is it just a matter of waiting it out - in other words, that the ship will right itself?
they could use an experienced manager like joe girardi.
   18. Howie Menckel Posted: April 22, 2021 at 08:48 PM (#6015001)
they could have opened the season with a plausible answer to "Who starts in Game 2 in the playoffs?"

I did not understand their offseason.

that said, a lotta lotta baseball left.
   19. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: April 22, 2021 at 08:56 PM (#6015003)
Meanwhile his defense

He's not a good SS. I don't know if that could be affecting him at the plate. And he can't exactly move back to 2B now anyway.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2021 at 09:06 PM (#6015005)
What is the Yankees' path to success? What changes within their organization should they make to turn things around? Or is it just a matter of waiting it out - in other words, that the ship will right itself?

For this season, it's just waiting it out. Maybe they have some ML-ready help in the minors but there's no Stanton to be had. When your established starting hitters are putting up OPS+ of 45, 47, 53, 54 what else can you realistically do but assume they aren't even remotely that bad (they aren't) ... and even if they have all turned into pumpkins overnight, you can't replace half your lineup mid-season.

The offseason was rather odd for a rich team -- more SPs, better bench. There was plenty of risk here -- Sanchez, Frazier, Hicks' health, Stanton's health, Judge's health, Gardner's age, Kluber, Taillon. But most every team has similar risk, it's just so far broken disastrously against the Yanks' hitters. Picking up Odor was a sign of desperation.
   21. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 22, 2021 at 09:33 PM (#6015012)
Picking up Odor was a sign of desperation.
Perhaps a whiff of desperation, but 2 hits & 2 RBI tonight!
   22. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 22, 2021 at 10:58 PM (#6015028)
Rather than continue to rip on TFA, let me pose this question: What is the Yankees' path to success? What changes within their organization should they make to turn things around? Or is it just a matter of waiting it out - in other words, that the ship will right itself?


Water finds its level and I’d trust the Yankees. The problem they are having right now is their offense is a shambles. I highly doubt they will finish the year with six regulars with sub-100 OPS+. The concern I’d have for the Yankees is that their rotation is made up of a lot of guys (other than Cole) who are hardly likely to make 30 starts.

The advantage they have is that I don’t think there is anyone likely to win 90+ games in that division besides them. Tampa is as Tampa does so yeah I don’t be surprised by them. Baltimore sucks, the Red Sox are a .500 team, Toronto I’m just not buying. Obviously they don’t want to fall too far back but I suspect they are more 2011 Red Sox who were 5-11 to start and by Memorial Day were leading the division. Like that team the problem with the bad start is the games count and they are using up a slump right out of the gate. But as long as they can avoid a month where they go 7-20 later in the season I’d still expect them to win the division.

Tl;dr - Yup.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2021 at 11:33 PM (#6015034)
Perhaps a whiff of desperation, but 2 hits & 2 RBI tonight!

So his OPS+ for the season has broken 50?
   24. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: April 23, 2021 at 12:29 AM (#6015038)
Picking up Odor was a sign of desperation.


It was maybe 10 years ago I read Cashman saying something like, "I figure I'm more likely to find lightning in a bottle with someone who has previously shown lightning." Between that thinking, the fact that he costs NY only the league minimum with zero CBT effect (Odor's AAV is below his 2021 salary), this was as much a no-lose acquisition as could be had. And any time a typically well-run team picks up a guy like this, I just assume they see something they believe is correctable. So far, maybe not.

The concern I’d have for the Yankees is that their rotation is made up of a lot of guys (other than Cole) who are hardly likely to make 30 starts.


I figured they didn't want Bauer (both the dollars and accompanying milieu) and think Kluber and Taillon (in particular those two) could be something like their old selves by August or so. TBD on them, obviously, but I think your (and others' here) overall description is probably accurate. I mean, yeah:

I highly doubt they will finish the year with six regulars with sub-100 OPS+.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 23, 2021 at 12:52 AM (#6015039)
Let’s not forget Luis Severino is expected to return from Tommy John Surgery sometime between June - August.
   26. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: April 23, 2021 at 08:10 AM (#6015044)
Let’s not forget Luis Severino is expected to return from Tommy John Surgery sometime between June - August.


Anecdotally it seems like guys who return from Tommy John struggle their first few starts and of course that assumes everything goes according to plan. It's the same reason I'm not counting on Sale to be any kind of difference maker for the Sox (he's on a similar timeline).
   27. Ron J Posted: April 23, 2021 at 08:44 AM (#6015047)
#6 Two things can be true at the same time. There's a long history of sportswriters treating minority players differently. But this particular case is a terrible example. Any time you have the current situation -- underperforming team and young player not playing well and clearly dogging it (even if just on one play) -- it'll be something sportswriters will jump all over.

(And yeah, really bad writing in the part of the story linked doesn't help)
   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 23, 2021 at 11:48 AM (#6015062)
The concern I’d have for the Yankees is that their rotation is made up of a lot of guys (other than Cole) who are hardly likely to make 30 starts.

Exactly. Or pitch more than 5 innings into any given game, which takes its inevitable toll on the bullpen. That's because the rotation (other than Cole) is almost entirely made up of pitchers recovering from major surgery: Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery, Germán, and prospectively Severino. The talent's obviously there, but the long range durability isn't something you can count on.
   29. CFBF's Results are Certified Posted: April 23, 2021 at 11:57 AM (#6015064)
I caught the last six or seven innings of the Braves-Yankees game Wednesday. Kluber managed to scratch out four scoreless innings, so maybe he looked better during those frames, but man, he looked genuinely terrible in the fifth. The Braves were only able to push a couple runs across, but it's like Kluber ran straight into a brick wall in the fifth inning. So many sliders that never slid.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 23, 2021 at 02:09 PM (#6015074)
I caught the last six or seven innings of the Braves-Yankees game Wednesday.
And boy are my knees sore!
   31. villageidiom Posted: April 23, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6015077)
Exactly. Or pitch more than 5 innings into any given game, which takes its inevitable toll on the bullpen. That's because the rotation (other than Cole) is almost entirely made up of pitchers recovering from major surgery: Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery, Germán, and prospectively Severino. The talent's obviously there, but the long range durability isn't something you can count on.
I was in a fantasy league one year long ago in which I drafted a bunch of previously injured players, figuring they would all be good when healthy, and they wouldn't all be injured at the same time.

They were all injured at the same time.
   32. bookbook Posted: April 25, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6015317)
The case as presented isn't a slam dunk. The case that would take (quite a bit) more work is a study of all the articles out there. I suspect you will find that across a broad range of papers and sportswriters, the non-white stars ARE called out on lack of hustle much more. The calls to bench struggling non-white stars are more frequent, etc. Any individual example is not likely capital R, "Racism." What I believe is actually there is underlying systemic racism, that causes us all to more quickly blame non-whites' struggles on the character of the star, more than the frustrations that this very difficult game inflicts on all its practitioners.

It's worth analyzing.
   33. Brian C Posted: April 25, 2021 at 09:12 PM (#6015351)
What I believe is actually there is underlying systemic racism, that causes us all to more quickly blame non-whites' struggles on the character of the star, more than the frustrations that this very difficult game inflicts on all its practitioners.

Even if true, that's not "systemic" racism. It would be just plain racism. Stop learning your social justice stances from blowhards on Twitter.
   34. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 25, 2021 at 10:46 PM (#6015372)
I caught the last six or seven innings of the Braves-Yankees game Wednesday. Kluber managed to scratch out four scoreless innings, so maybe he looked better during those frames, but man, he looked genuinely terrible in the fifth.

Other than Cole, it's a disease of the entire Yankees rotation:

Taillon's line today;

Innings 1-3: 3 hits, 0 runs, 3 strikeouts

4th inning: Single, single, single, home run.
   35. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: April 26, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6015567)
He said that it "borders on a dog whistle." Because, you know ... whatever that even means.

It means you are the raciest racist that ever raced a race. (Give us all your money now and die, bigot!)

The only people who ever talk about "dog whistles" are the ones who claim they're too pure to hear them.
   36. Brian C Posted: April 26, 2021 at 08:18 PM (#6015588)
That doesn't really explain what it means to "border on" a dog whistle, though. In theory, that would mean that the racism is even more obvious than dog-whistle racism, because the pitch isn't as high as dog whistles, it just "borders" on the limit of what only dogs can hear. So even creatures with less hearing range than dogs could hear it.

But in context, that doesn't seem to be what he meant.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: April 26, 2021 at 08:40 PM (#6015592)
Maybe he meant the other border? It was even too high for dogs.
   38. Brian C Posted: April 26, 2021 at 10:35 PM (#6015614)
IF that's true, it makes him look really bad for being able to detect it!

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