ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Before Bud Selig retires as baseball’s commissioner, he should write a memo and have it posted in every clubhouse announcing that it’s perfectly fine to have some fun on the field.
David Ortiz hit a long home run on Sunday against Tampa Bay and flung his bat off to the side and slowly trotted around the bases. Ortiz had a home run snatched away by a fan on Saturday, so he enjoyed seeing the ball fly into the seats.
On the Ortiz scale, the celebration was a solid six out of 10. But the Rays reacted like Big Papi spat in their dugout on the way to first base.
“I hope he realizes there’s more that goes into it than just him,” said Chris Archer, the pitcher who allowed the home run. “I don’t know, I feel like you can’t say that your true character is defined by one action but multiple actions speak to who you are.”
This would be the same Chris Archer who once struck out Daniel Nava, glared at him, and kissed his right biceps. Talk about contrived anger.
The larger point is that baseball needs to loosen up. Football, basketball, hockey, and soccer players celebrate their success all the time without fear of physical retribution or character assassination. Why do baseball players have to be so restrained?
The unwritten rules are senseless. Walk-off home runs can be celebrated like it’s New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, but a home run in the eighth inning can’t be. Pitchers can pump their fist and jump off the mound after the third out, but not the second. It’s all so silly.
Baseball is losing younger fans and putting people to sleep with long games and hitters who need 20 seconds between pitches so they can adjust their batting gloves for the 43d time. Ortiz is a fun player to watch, so let him have fun. Let pitchers point at hitters the way Dennis Eckersley used to. Let an outfielder like Jackie Bradley Jr. high-five a teammate if he makes a great catch.
Here’s a crazy idea: If Ortiz flipping his bat bothers you that much, strike him out next time then tip your cap to him. Otherwise, keep quiet.
A few other notes and observations:
■ Brock Holt is 1 of his last 20 and his batting average has dropped from .326 to .307. Regression is so evil. On the plus side, Holt is only four plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league leaders.
■ Red Sox outfielders have only 14 home runs this season, an embarrassing number. But trading for Matt Kemp would be a horrendous idea.
Kemp may not be finished as a player, but he’s in decline and has not been the same hitter since suffering a shoulder injury that twice required surgery. The Dodgers have stopped playing him in center field and on Sunday batted him behind the ghost of Carl Crawford (.242/.278/.360) in their lineup.
Even if the Dodgers pick up the bulk of the $107 million Kemp has remaining on his contract starting next season, it’s a bad move. The Dodgers were the team the Red Sox dumped their bad contracts and malcontents on. Don’t be the team that now takes that on.
■ The Sox seem intent on trading Andrew Miller and the deal could go down soon, with the Braves a very distinct possibility. Miller’s value never has been higher and the Sox could get a solid return for him.
Miller will be a free agent after the season and will be in line for a raise after making $1.9 million this season. Relievers are fungible, so why not deal him?
But are the Sox being hasty? They traded for Miller for the 2011 season and invested a lot of time and patience into building him into one of the best relievers in the game. The tall lefty needed plenty of work to get his delivery in synch and everything finally works the way it should.
Why not sign him to an extension instead? Miller is only 29, has a high-octane fastball with a wipeout slider and is certainly talented enough to be the closer if needed. That seems like the kind of pitcher a championship team could use.
■ If the Red Sox are any sort of meritocracy, how is Xander Bogaerts still on the roster?
Bogaerts is hitting .146/.181/.199
The 21-year-old got off to a solid start before he was shifted to third base and everything fell apart for him. Some more seasoning in the minors wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Daniel Nava, a huge part of the 2013 team, was optioned this season after 17 games and 75 plate appearances. Bogaerts gets that much more rope because he is a well-regarded prospect?
■ The Oakland Athletics, who try never to waste a dime, designated ineffective reliever Jim Johnson for assignment and will eat $3.8 million on his contract. So why is Edward Mujica still a member of the Red Sox? Mujica has been just awful — 5.35 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6 home runs — over 38 appearances and remains on the team.
Mujica has $6.42 million left on his deal and is signed through the end of 2015. Like Grady Sizemore, A.J. Pierzynski, and Chris Capuano, he was a bad signing
■ Injured Rockies All-Star Troy Tulowitzki made a surprise trip to Yankee Stadium on Sunday to see the Yankees play the Blue Jays, fueling further speculation that he is seeking a trade.
Tulowitzki grew up idolizing Derek Jeter, but also would welcome a trade to Boston, a major league source said Sunday night. Tulowitzki greatly admires Dustin Pedroia and is desirous of playing in an environment like Fenway Park.
Unlike the prospect-poor Yankees, the Red Sox have the chips to make that deal.
■ Shane Victorino had a 14-pitch at-bat on Sunday before striking out in the seventh inning against Cesar Ramos. It’s too late to save the season, but Victorino has shown how much the Red Sox missed him since he returned.
■ Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s astonishing how complicated and convoluted the Jon Lester situation has become.
The Red Sox drafted and developed a pitcher who helped them win two World Series. At 30, he’s healthy and having the best season of his career. He also wants to return and is willing to make a deal both sides can live with.
Beyond that, Lester has shown the strength of his character with how well he has handled the attention, questions, and uncertainty.
Yet the Red Sox have yet to sign him and apparently are willing to consider trade offers.
The new front office catch phrase is the Red Sox want to be “as good as possible as quickly as possible.” But losing Lester will move the team further away from another title, not closer. That’s about as simple as it gets.
If Lester actually gets to unfettered free agency, he’s gone. Teams will make him offers he would be a fool to turn down, and he will be courted in such a way that will show him the Red Sox aren’t the only good organization out there.
It once seemed certain the Red Sox would come to an agreement with Lester. Now he could be pitching for another team on Friday. Why the Sox seem almost eager to chase away one of their cornerstone players is a mystery.
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