Friday, May 24, 2013

Andre Ethier And The Microwave Death Stare

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Three days old, but still some funny stuff. Here's a GIF, via Deadspin via The Big Lead via 1000 Steps, of Andre Ethier acting like a tough guy to home plate umpire Dan Bellino.

This of course was the last we saw of Andre Ethier in Milwaukee, as coach Don Mattingly benched Ethier before the Wednesday series-ending game, despite the fact that it would have been a favorable matchup for Ethier.

Mattingly has almost always defended his players since becoming the Dodgers' manager more than two years ago. But in explaining why Ethier was out of the lineup Wednesday, Mattingly said, "I'm trying to put the club out there that I feel is going to fight."

Ethier, who is in the first year of a five-year, $85-million contract extension he signed last season, is batting .264 with four home runs and 15 runs batted in.

The Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball history at $230 million, but Mattingly sounded as if he was still searching for a mix of players who had as much tenacity as talent.

"It's not just all, 'Let's go put an All-Star team out there and play games and the team with the All-Star team wins,' " Mattingly said. "It's trying to find that balance of a team that's got a little grit and a little fight. All grit and no talent is not going to get you there, and all talent and no grit is not going to get you there. There's got to be a mixture of both."

Ethier, on the other hand, took the high road:

Yet after the game, when presented with Mattingly’s comments, Ethier responded just as you would hope. Even-keeled, disagreeing with his manager’s assessment and mostly disappointed Mattingly had not shared his thoughts personally before discussing them with the media.

“If he has something like that to point out, I'm going to take a look at it and address it,” Ethier said.

Pretty much an ideal response.

Naturally, Ethier hardly agreed he did not compete hard and fight every day.

“I take offense to that,” he said. “I work hard. Whether I'm going good or going bad, I work just as hard, both sides. Obviously, when things are going bad, I'm trying even harder to figure out how to make things go right.”

Mattingly has never questioned Ethier’s work ethic. His concern seems more of his having a competitive spirit at the plate, at grinding out each at-bat, at a refusal to give in to any pitcher or pitch.

When he’s on, Ethier has the prettiest swing on the team. But when he misses, it can look almost lazy, as if he mentally checked out. Part of it is simply body language, though part could be Mattingly’s apparent suspicion Ethier is batting with less than an edge.

Yet Ethier (.264, four homers, 15 RBI, .405 slugging) is hardly the only Dodger struggling or sometimes seeming to be less than totally focused.

I don't know if Ethier's slump is caused by his effort level or overall streakiness. But everybody's on edge here at Dodgertown. This upcoming series with the Cardinals will be telling.


BJ Killeen said...

Love the death stare. And if we're going to sell Andre, sell Kemp and AGon as well.

Greg Zakwin said...

originally via Chad Moriyama


Steve Sax said...

Sorry! Lots of Vias here to navigate. I felt like i was driving around Palos Verdes Estates.