Here are a pair of takeaway quotes from the ongoing dust-up involving Boston’s beloved David Ortiz and everybody’s bad guy, David Price:
Price on Ortiz: “Sometimes, the way he acts out there, he kind of looks like he’s bigger than the game. That’s not the way it is, not the way it goes . . . Nobody’s bigger than the game of baseball.’’
Ortiz on Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman, but not Price, after Price hit Ortiz on purpose: “I guess the rules aren’t for everybody.’’
Both of these statements are true. Ortiz does carry himself as though he’s bigger than the game, because he is bigger than the game. And the rules are not for everybody. The rules rarely apply to David Ortiz.
Let’s be clear up front: The events of last Friday night at Fenway Park unfolded in a very unfortunate manner for the Red Sox. The Sox and their fans have a strong case when they cry “injustice.’’
The facts are indisputable. Price hit two Red Sox batters and was neither ejected nor suspended. Workman did not hit anybody and was slapped with a six-game suspension. No justice. The umpires would have been better off if they’d tossed Price when he hit Ortiz. Once that didn’t happen, things got out of hand in a bad way for Boston.
There’s nothing noble about Price. He comes across like a sore loser, sounding like a young Alex Rodriguez. Price’s manager, Joe Maddon, was clearly bothered by Price’s first-inning grudge settling.
But everybody in Boston wears Johnny Most glasses when it comes to David Ortiz.
Sorry, people. Price is right when he says Ortiz is bigger than the game. That’s why you love Big Papi. And it’s laughable that David Ortiz would ever be in a position to say, “I guess the rules aren’t for everybody.’’
The rules say you’re not supposed to dog it out of the batter’s box. Ortiz jogs or gives up on a regular basis. And nobody calls him on it because . . . well, everybody loves Big Papi.
The rules say you’re supposed to be ejected if you argue balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. Ortiz reacts as if he just dropped an anvil on his foot after just about every called strike. But the umps are good to him because he is good to them. Watch him tap the home plate ump’s shin guard when he first steps into the batter’s box for the night. It’s like Kevin Garnett insisting on eye contact with all three officials before the opening tap of every game. The umps all love Big Papi.
The rules say you’re not supposed to show up the pitcher by admiring your majestic homers. You’re supposed to put your head down and round the bases. Act like you’ve been there before. Jim Rice never felt the need to show up the pitchers.
Ortiz can’t help himself. When he drives a baseball toward the bleachers, he poses longer than Gisele Bundchen. And his jog around the bases takes longer than that of any other player in baseball. If you are a pitcher, every Ortiz homer says, “Take that, chump!’’
But nobody is bothered by this because everybody loves Big Papi and well, you know, that’s David being David and that’s the way he’s always done it.
The rules say you generally get hit by a lot of pitchers when you are a middle-of-the-lineup slugger who helps himself to the inside half of the plate. Ortiz, remarkably, almost never gets hit by a pitch.
Since 2010, Ortiz has been hit six times. He has been hit been 35 times in his 15-plus seasons. Prince Fielder got hit 17 times in a season. Fielder has been hit 106 times in 10 seasons. But nobody throws at David Ortiz. The Yankees never threw at David Ortiz, even when the Sox were throwing at Derek Jeter.
The rules say you don’t put your stats above the team. You’re supposed to be about winning. So what was Ortiz doing when he burst into Terry Francona’s office when the Sox were about to collapse in 2011? Ortiz wanted an RBI from the night before and needed a scoring decision changed. He got the RBI. Just like he got credit for the single when he petitioned MLB after his popup dropped between two Texas fielders in an 8-0 loss last month.
I thought there might be a parade when Ortiz was awarded the single. Certainly justice was served.
The rules say you’re not supposed to beat up a dugout telephone with your bat in full view of television cameras, endangering your teammates and sending a bad message to impressionable young ballplayers. Ortiz shattered his bat and the phone in Baltimore last year. It was a big joke. MLB tagged him with a ceremonial $5,000 fine (Ortiz appealed), but the Red Sox didn’t seem to mind.
The rules say you’re not supposed to use banned substances. Ortiz tested positive in 2003. When his name was leaked in 2009, Ortiz received support unprecedented in the history of baseball. The director of the Players Association, the late Michael Weiner, rushed to Ortiz’s side for a strange press conference in Yankee Stadium.
The MLBPA and MLB both issued statements defending Ortiz. Red Sox ownership supported Ortiz without question. The positive test was never explained. Today, five years after teetering on the brink of release, the 38-year-old Ortiz is posting monster numbers and his bat is quicker than ever and nobody can ask about it . . . because we all love Big Papi.
Last, and least, the rules say you’re not supposed to use the f-bomb when you are on live television. When David Ortiz told the world, “This is our [expletive] city!,’’ we made T-shirts commemorating the phrase, and the chairman of the FCC tweeted his approval.
And why wouldn’t he? Big Papi is the greatest. He delivers. He’s bigger than the game. That’s why everybody loves him.Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy