OAKLAND, Calif. — This is not another defense of David Ortiz, just an understanding of his viewpoint.
He was wrong to go after scorekeeper Bob Ellis Wednesday. MLB vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre was right to issue a statement denouncing Ortiz’s public displeasure over the call in which his hard grounder to Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was ruled an error.
Ortiz should have kept it to himself and just had the call overturned by an appeal.
Ortiz would only issue a “no comment” when asked about the Torre statement. He did speak to the players’ union about the matter Friday and he will appeal the scorer’s decision. In most cases Torre has reversed the scorer’s decision in the player’s favor. Mauer and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also thought the ball was a hit.
Mauer had to dive to knock the ball down. It wasn’t an easy play.
Official scorers have been under scrutiny for a long time. Major League Baseball employs three of them at Fenway — Ellis, former Lowell Sun baseball writer Charles Scoggins, and former Boston Herald baseball writer Mike Shalin.
These guys know baseball and they know the rules. They’ve seen thousands of games. They’ve seen thousands of plays so their judgment in distinguishing a good play from a routine play from a bad play is something that should be trusted.
Ortiz sees it differently.
Part of his discussion with the Players’ Association on Friday was that poor scoring decisions have been made by ex-sportswriters. Ortiz agrees with the stance that an ex-player or someone who has played the game at a professional level should make the calls.
His point is that if you’ve never played the game at this level, you don’t have an understanding of how hard and how easy a play should be for the fielder.
Ortiz basically says what he claims most baseball players believe, but he’s just willing to say it out loud.
Given his stature in the game, his accomplishments, the great things he does in the community, the image he projects for the growing population of Latin players in Major League Baseball, he was a bit taken aback by Torre being so bold as to issue a statement against him.
And this is my point.
Ortiz gets too hot about things like this. He doesn’t feel he needs to keep things inside, but rather express them openly and honestly, no matter what the situation.
And he won’t back down on this one, either.
He made his statements on a day when he tied the game in the 10th inning with a home run. He’s great enough that he can do something like that. He’s great enough to be a World Series MVP and be one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time.
If we give him slack, it’s because of what he’s done and what he continues to do on the field. If he gets hot under the collar, well, that’s “Papi being Papi.” And there are those who have earned the right to do what he does.
If he wants to stare as his home run travels over the fence, so be it. Only David Price has complained about that.
When he was upset about his contract, he made that public.
He’s never quit on his team, like his buddy Manny Ramirez. He’s been a loyal, good soldier for the Red Sox organization and community.
To see him issue a “no comment” about Torre’s statement was completely counter to who he is. And I’ll bet my bottom dollar that he opens up about it again at some point.
To see charges that he wasn’t a team player because he argued a personal call was just plain nonsense. If it wasn’t for his home run, the Red Sox would have lost the game. He helped his team with that home run, which was followed by Mike Napoli’s homer to win the game.
People used to call Wade Boggs selfish because he didn’t hit home runs. He too was often occupied with scoring decisions, but he compiled the greatest Fenway Park average of all time (.369). He was an OBP machine throughout his career. If he was preoccupied with his numbers, so what? He helped the team.
Boggs would have been revered in today’s game for his incredible ability to get on base and help his team score runs.
It seems we want our superstars in Boston to be quiet. We want them to be more Tom Brady than David Ortiz. But you know what? They are different people from different backgrounds. And they’re also from different sports with different unwritten rules about how to act.
Yes, if Jackie Bradley Jr. or Xander Bogaerts had paraded around and acted like Ortiz did the other day, they would have been lit up and embarrassed.
But not Big Papi.
Has he not built up a reservoir of goodwill based on his performance, his numbers, his three championships? Why is there such negativity against one of the greatest performers in Boston sports history?
He’s emotional. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He doesn’t always say the right thing. He swears. He struts.
And in 2014, he’s still the most feared hitter in the Red Sox lineup and one of the top three or four most-feared hitters in baseball.
Fact is, on that day the Red Sox won a game because of Ortiz’s 16th home run and 43d RBI. Looks like he’s headed for another 30/100 season.
But you can’t stand it because he shows his emotion?
“Sick of his act!” e-mailed one reader. “Can’t wait until he’s gone.”
There is one reader who writes constantly that Ortiz is a selfish player because he refuses to play first base. Hello?
Another reader calls him “Big Fraud.” Why, because he says what’s on his mind and in his heart?
“I hope he retires after this year,” wrote another reader. “It’s time to move on.”
Be careful what you wish for.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.