David Ortiz: "People is horrible"

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Thumbnail image for David Ortiz strikeout.jpgThe Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin has a feature on David Ortiz and how he’s been dealing with his early season struggles and the criticism that comes with it.  The short answer? Not well.  Really, if you want to see the dictionary definition of a guy who can’t handle the critics, this is it. Among the highlights:

  • “That’s why I came to be, going from being an angel to being [a jerk]. It
    wasn’t because of me. It was because people change you.”
  • “People take the happiness away from you because they worry about making
    some extra dirty money. That’s how I call it. When you criticize a
    person like me about my game, you’re just trying to make some dirty
    money.”
  • “So if you’re telling me that just because of the fact that I’m not
    hitting at the time, you’ve got to bury me like that?'”
  • “Everything kind of switched from one day to another, boom, and then you
    see the real faces. Then you see what people are going to be like when
    you fail.”
  • “when you turn on the TV, living in Boston, all you hear is people just
    saying bad things about you like you are a killer, like you just killed
    somebody. Like you got no chance in hell to be back. That [stuff] just
    crushes, that [stuff] just hits you, that [stuff] just buries.”
  • “I know how to fight back,” Ortiz said. “That’s the thing. I’m a nice
    guy. I don’t like to see people struggling. I don’t like to be horrible
    to people. I don’t like to be mean to people. But on the other hand,
    people make you be like that. People is horrible.”

The most interesting bit is where he goes on about ESPN’s Buster Olney, with Ortiz calling him out for saying that he could no longer handle the inside fastball.  Ortiz’s beef: he never gets inside fastballs, so Olney is full of it.  I don’t have the Pitch f/x-fu to figure out who’s right about that, but I suppose someone is checking that out as we speak.

However that turns out, there’s no question that Ortiz is being overly-sensitive here. He has been among the most beloved players in all of baseball the entire time he’s been in Boston. He got off easier on the PEDs stuff than any player ever has.  The criticism he’s gotten — that his production doesn’t match his contract, and that Boston might need to go in a different direction — has been relatively recent and has been no harsher than anything any player in that position has ever received. Indeed, in a lot of ways much easier, inasmuch as it’s almost always tinged with an empathy and a reminder about how much he has meant to the franchise.  I mean really, if he thinks that what he’s gotten has been bad as far as the Boston media is concerned, he hasn’t been paying attention to the Boston media very long.

More generally speaking, I think it’s pretty apparent that David Ortiz never learned
the most important thing about celebrity, which is not to believe
everything people say about you when you’re high or when you’re
low.

Big Papi was quite comfy when people had
nothing but nice things to say about him, which has been the case for
almost his entire career. Now that he’s seeing the other side of that, he can’t take it.  Which is pretty sad.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.

Miguel Sano criticized by his manager for dogging it on a defensive play

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Sal Perez of the Royals had a nice night last night, going 5-for-5. One of those five hits was a triple. But it maybe didn’t have to be a triple, as Perez’s hit to right field went over the head of Miguel Sano and off the wall, bouncing back toward the infield.

Sano is no one’s idea of a gold glover so getting on him for not catching a ball at the wall is only going to have so much of an effect. But Twins manager Paul Molitor was rightly upset, it would seem, for how Sano reacted after the ball bounced off the wall. Specifically: he basically just stopped and watched it roll away as center fielder Danny Santana had to spring over and field it as the slow Perez lumbered around the bases. Molitor:

“I think maybe he assumed that [second baseman Eduardo] Nunez or Danny were going to be in better position after he positioned himself close to the wall to make the catch,” Molitor said. “But you want him to go for the ball even if you think there’s somebody else to help you out. Sometimes you get caught assuming out there and it doesn’t look too good.”

You can watch the play below. It starts at around the :37 second mark and is Perez’s third hit in the sequence:

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith to have Tommy John surgery

BOSTON, MA - MAY 09:  Carson Smith #39 of the Boston Red Sox looks on in the seventh inning during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park on May 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Last season Carson Smith was an effective and durable relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners, appearing in 70 games. In the offseason the Red Sox traded for him and Roenis Elias in exchange for Jonathan Aro and Wade Miley. This year Smith has appeared in just three games. And he will appear in no more as the Red Sox just announced that he will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery today.

Smith last appeared in a game ten days ago and, until today, it was believed that his injury was minor, like the flexor strain injury he sustained in spring training. Sadly, the news was much worse.

Bill “Spaceman” Lee is running for governor of Vermont

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Bill Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 through 1978 and for the Montreal Expos from 1979 through 1982. He’s far better known, however, for being a weirdo, in the best sense of the term. He was outspoken and controversial and funny and aggravating and above all else his own dude.

His most famous comment as a player was when he said that he sprinkled marijuana on his pancakes in order to immunize him from Boston bus fumes as he jogged to Fenway Park. Which is patently silly, as everyone knowns you can’t just sprinkle it. You gotta make butter out of the stuff and spread it on the pancakes. Or so I’m told.

In recent years Lee has alternated gimmicky and celebrity baseball appearances with political aspirations. His political aspirations, of course, have never been conventional either. In 1987, for example, he had announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party. Which would’ve been a neat trick as it was a Canadian political party. Still, we could’ve used it here, as its platform was fairly intriguing. The Rhinoceroses advocated, among other things, repealing the law of gravity, legalizing all drugs, privatizing Tim Hortons and giving a rhinoceros for every Canadian Citizen.

That campaign didn’t work out for Lee, sadly, but he is undeterred. And now he plans to run for office again. Governor of Vermont, to be specific. And he plans to soak the rich:

Now, he’s throwing his hat into the race to be Vermont’s next governor shaking off campaign contributions and decrying wealth inequality.

“You get what you pay for, if you want change, you vote for Sanders or me. I’m Bernie-heavy, I’m not Bernie-lite. My ideas were before Bernie,” said Lee. “If you want to see money come down from the 2 percent, we’re going to need umbrellas when I’m elected, because it’s going to be raining dollars,” he said.

This is no Rhinoceros Party joke, though. He’s a member of the Liberty Union party, which is where Bernie Sanders got his start. And his platform — legalization and taxation of pot in Vermont, single-payer health care, paid family leave — are all things which have no small constituency in a liberal state like Vermont.

Oh, he has one other platform plank: bringing the Expos back to Montreal. That may be a bit tougher for the governor of Vermont to do, but we’ll probably see some form of New Expos in Montreal in the next decade or so, and Lee will be proven to be on the right side of history. And that’s better than a lot of our politicians can say, right?