David Ortiz is a great hitter. There is no doubt about it. He is the best clutch hitter of this generation. He’s been instrumental in three Red Sox world championships. Everyone understands and appreciates this.
But the question needs to be asked– Is it too much to ask him to shut up sometimes? How about a little humility every once in a while?
Why can’t Ortiz learn something from Tom Brady? While Ortiz is a great hitter, he is not the greatest hitter ever. It can be argued that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time. Yet when actor Mark Wahlberg came up to Brady on the field following the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory earlier this month screaming in Brady’s face that he is now the greatest quarterback ever, Brady said to him, sheepishly, “I don’t know about that.”
What would Ortiz’s reaction have been? “You know it!”
It seems like this story gets written at least once a year about Ortiz. Ortiz was praised for speaking from the heart when he let a F-bomb drop during an on-field ceremony following the Boston Marathon bombings. Even the FCC let that one slide. We’ve seen Ortiz smash dugout phones with baseball bats. We saw Ortiz mug for a sponsored selfie with the President of the United States.
We’ve also seen David Ortiz call out then-Tampa pitcher David Price for “acting like a little girl” after Price dared hit Ortiz with a pitch. “Next time he hit me, he better put his gloves on,” Ortiz said following the 2014 game. An incensed Ortiz called it “a war.” Why shouldn’t pitchers be allowed to pitch inside on him? What makes him any different from any other superstar?
A couple of months later young Tampa pitcher Chris Archer was critical of the amount of time Ortiz stood to admire a home run, as Ortiz is known to do. Potty mouth Ortiz again dropped an F-bomb in post game comments saying, “He’s got two days in the league, (shouldn’t) be (expletive) and complaining about (expletive) like that.”
Archer retaliated by saying, “He feels like he’s bigger than the game.” Archer — who has 59 career starts and a better career ERA of anyone in the Red Sox current starting rotation– has a case.
Ortiz has never been satisfied with being a spoke in the wheel. He thirsts for the spotlight. He yearns to be an ambassador of the game. He believes he’s earned that right.
Therefore, how dare MLB pass any rule changes without consulting with Ortiz? He wasn’t happy when he was informed that one of the methods MLB is going to try to enforce to speed games up is to insist batters keep one foot in the batter’s box between pitches under certain circumstances.
Seems reasonable, right? No, no, no– not to designated hitter David Ortiz.
“It seems like ever rule goes in the pitcher’s favor,” Ortiz said. “After the pitch you have to stay in the box? With one foot? I call that bull—-.”
Ortiz then went off on a profanity-laden tirade about pitchers (ahem, Clay Buchholz) who take forever between pitches. Why don’t they do anything about that?
Well, David, they did experiment with a pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League and it may be coming to the major leagues soon.
The point that Ortiz needs to understand is that he is an employee of MLB. He is being paid very handsomely for someone who steps on the field for maybe thirty minutes per night, six nights per week. It would be understandable that maybe Ortiz wants a little more face time during games. If, however, Ortiz wants more face time, maybe he should try putting on a fielding glove.
Ortiz needs to understand that baseball is a dying sport. With every passing generation, attention spans are getting less and less. Readers have, probably, given up on this column a couple of paragraphs ago.
Things need to change. The game of baseball needs to speed up. The casual fan doesn’t want to watch thirty second home run trots. They don’t want to see a player spit into his gloves and walk around the plate perusing the crowd between every pitch.
The cerebral Ortiz claims his mind is always computing every time he is staring off into the crowd. It might not look like it, but he is. “When you see guys come out of the box, they’re not doing it just to do it. Our minds are spinning. I see one pitch, I come out and I think what is this guy going to do on the next pitch.”
This is not chess, David. See ball. Hit ball. It’s pretty simple.
This is the same guy the Red Sox are counting on to mentor the oft-malcontent Hanley Ramirez. Good luck with that.