David Ortiz

David Ortiz rips MLB for punishing Brandon Workman but not David Price

33 Comments

CLEVELAND — For the most part, the Red Sox took the high road in regard to the news that pitcher Brandon Workman was suspended for six games for his actions in last Friday’s showdown with Tampa Bay — and the corresponding lack of discipline taken toward the Rays’ David Price.

Manager John Farrell maintained a diplomatic tact, saying the Red Sox had presented their side of the confrontation and have to deal with the fallout. Workman, who is appealing the suspension and will pitch as scheduled Wednesday, continued to maintain that he wasn’t throwing at Evan Longoria.

But David Ortiz showed no such restraint.

“[The Rays] started everything and we’ve got to pay for it, basically,” fumed Ortiz, hit in the back in the first inning by Price, who went unpunished. “That’s the message I’m getting. I don’t have any answer for it. But like I say, man, there’s way too much evidence now that he hit me on purpose and the funny thing is we’re the ones getting fines and suspensions, all that kind of stuff.

“I guess the rules are not for everyone.”

And while Workman continued to insist that the ball slipped when he threw up and behind Longoria several innings later, Ortiz was more direct about his teammate’s motivation.

“He was supposed to back up his teammate — that’s what he did,” said Ortiz. “I don’t want to see nobody getting hit or hurt. But to be honest with you, nobody planned Workman going out there and trying to hit Longoria, which he missed. But at least he sent a message — you hit my players, I hit yours.”

[RELATED: Sox can’t get ‘elusive’ hit with runners on]

Ortiz still isn’t buying Price’s original assertion that he was trying to establish his fastball inside when he drilled Ortiz in the back in the first inning.

“Bro, the guy gave out 8 walks in 80 innings,” said Ortiz. “You know what you’re doing out there. In my case, when he hit me, I was a little confused. As the game went by, I started seeing things different. That’s why I was so angry after the game. I think MLB should [review] this and come up with the real deal because I don’t think what they’re doing is fair.

“I think the rules should for everybody. We didn’t start this up. I didn’t hurt nobody. Workman wasn’t hitting anybody in the first inning. They did.”

At first, Ortiz didn’t believe Price had intentionally hit him, since the Red Sox slugger recalled two conversations he had in the aftermath of Game 2 of the ALDS last October. Price was initially miffed that Ortiz stood and admired the second of his two homers and voiced his displeasure in a phone call.

But Price later called back and apologized and then repeated his apology publicly in Tampa following the day. Ortiz thought the issue was long resolved.

“That’s why I was [first] thinking, ‘Did he really do that on purpose?’ ” said Ortiz. “But like I say, I don’t care about we he did or does from this point on. What I care about is MLB looking at the case from the point where I didn’t start this up. Workman didn’t start this up. Price did.

“I thought the rule was for everybody. I thought the minute you figure that someone hit somebody on purpose, it says right there you’ve got to follow up [with discipline]. In this case, it seems like they didn’t.”

Ortiz also added this warning: “In my case, I’ve made my point clear. I’m not going to get hit again. Not by him. I’m not going to get hit again by him. He did it on purpose. He punked me and that was very disrespectful. I’m a grown-ass man and I’ve been around the league for a long time and I know how to take care of business of my own.”

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
3 Comments

Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
30 Comments

In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]