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.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

Headgear
MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.

Brewers sign reliever Blaine Boyer

Blaine Boyer
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Right-hander Blaine Boyer, who spent last season with the Twins, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Brewers that includes an invitation to spring training.

Boyer was also on a minor-league deal last spring when he snagged a spot in the Twins’ season-opening bullpen and he stayed there all year, posting a 2.49 ERA in 65 innings. His secondary numbers weren’t quite so impressive, particularly his managing just 33 strikeouts compared to 19 walks, but the 34-year-old journeyman is a decent middle relief option.

Boyer has a 4.22 career ERA, including a 2.91 ERA in 105 innings since returning from injuries in 2014.

The Padres have been shopping Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp
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Robert Murray of BaseballEssential.com reports that the Padres have tried to trade Matt Kemp.

Shocker given that he’s 31 and is owed $21.75 million over each of the next four seasons. Still, if the Padres eat some cash someone may bite. Kemp started slowly in 2015 but was solid in the second half. He finished with a line of .265/.312/.443, 23 home runs, and 100 RBI in 648 plate appearances. That last number is key because the once-fraglie Kemp has been healthy for two years now. Someone could use that level of production.

Just not at those prices.

The Braves and Fulton County are fighting over a Hank Aaron statue

FILE- In this Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, a statue of Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron stands outside Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves pulled perhaps the most surprising move of the year. They announced after months of secret talks with Cobb County leaders plans to move to a suburban stadium and leave downtown where they’ve played since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. The impending Braves’ departure aside, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed managed to keep the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons happy. He agreed for the city to cover part of the construction costs for a new retractable-roof stadium to replace the Georgia Dome downtown. Both new stadiums are projected to open in 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Associated Press
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Divorce is hard. It’s hard on the kids and hard on your own emotions. Then, of course, there’s the fighting over money. Eventually you sort that stuff out too, but at some point you’ll come across something that cannot be divided between you and for which visitation schedules simply aren’t suitable.

Maybe it’s the family photo album. Maybe it’s that 60-year-old cast iron skillet which you got at that estate sale and which is perfectly seasoned and, oh God, you can’t imagine making fried chicken in anything else YOU GOT THE HOUSE, JENNY, MY GOD I GET TO KEEP THE SKILLET!!!

Um. Sorry. Got carried away there for a second. Where was I? Oh yes. Maybe it’s that statue you and your ex both love. You know, that one of the guy who hit 755 home runs and who has served as the face of your franchise for over 60 years:

For about three hours Wednesday, it looked like the statue of baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron would be staying in Atlanta.

The agency that owns Turner Field proudly announced it holds documents showing “the people of Atlanta and Fulton County” own the bronze, and that a deal had been struck with the Braves to keep the statue at Turner Field.

Then came a statement from the Braves saying, in effect: nuh huh. The statue, the team said, should go wherever the Hammer wants it.

And with those dueling press statements, the fate over one of Atlanta’s treasured sports landmarks remained in limbo, just as it has been since the day the Braves announced plans in late 2013 to move from downtown to Cobb County after the 2016 season.

The latest: Hank Aaron says he wants no part of the dispute and that the club and the city should solve it themselves. Which is absolutely the right move. And, frankly, kind of crappy of the Braves to throw it in Aaron’s lap in the first place. They’re the ones who, figuratively speaking, broke up the marriage by messing around with that younger, richer suitor after all. Now they’re trying to make Aaron either be a bad guy to Braves fans who attend games after 2016 and don’t get to see the statue or the city of Atlanta who would have yet another piece of their baseball history transplanted to the burbs? Forget that.

If I were Aaron I’d propose that we saw the thing in half. Then we’d see who values it more. I heard that approach has worked before.