Craig Calcaterra

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, wearing green tinted glasses, walks onto the field for his at-bat in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Fort Myers, Fla. The team wore green themed uniforms in observance of St. Patrick's Day. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Associated Press

David Ortiz on respecting the game: “Respect? Respect my [expletive]”


Alex Speier of the Boston Globe asked Red Sox DH David Ortiz about bat flipping, respecting the game and old school vs. new school stuff. If you’re familiar with Mr. Ortiz’s oeuvre, you will not be surprised that he has a few opinions on the matter and they do not correspond with the opinions of most pitchers and self-described “purists” and “old school” baseball men.

This is not one of those stories where the reporter took one or two choice quotes and weaved them in with a lot of his own writing. Rather, Speier — to his supreme credit and our immense enjoyment — seems to have asked Ortiz a question that got him talking, held the tape recorder up and got the hell out of the way. The result: unvarnished magic, devoid of baseball player cliche. Really, this is lovely.

You should read every last word of it — Ortiz goes on and on — but here are a couple of choice cuts:

On people who scold others to “respect the game”:

“Respect? Respect my [expletive]. I don’t have to respect nobody when I’m between those two lines.

To pitchers who complain about his bat flips:

If you’re going to take it like a baby, I’m going to take you deep again. How about that? Take it like a man and make better, quality pitches the next time I face you, and then you get me out, and then you do whatever the hell you want. This is competition.”

On people who have not hit a homer in the major leagues offering opinions about how hitters should act when they do:

And if you don’t know anything about it, [shut up]. [Shut up]. Seriously. If you don’t know anything about it, [shut up], because that is another level.”

He likewise offers a lot of words about people — it sounds like he’s aiming at opposing pitchers, mostly, but it could be anyone — who “cry” and “boo-hoo” about how a hitter acts after a homer. To them he says “there’s no babysitting in baseball.” In fairness he notes that, if you strike him out, go ahead and party. It’s hard to strike people out, he says. Enjoy it when you do.

It’s probably worth noting that David Ortiz isn’t the perfect messenger when it comes to his particular message. I’ll note that he doesn’t always follow his own advice when it comes to crying about things that don’t go his way. It’s also not the case that he’s offering all of this insight from the most consistent philosophical position. He spends a lot of time talking about how, if you don’t hit home runs yourself, you’re not qualified to talk about how home run hitters behave. Which, sure, there’s truth to that insofar his critics cannot know what he’s feeling and thus cannot criticize his reaction. At the same time, however, it’s not hard to imagine him deploying that same argument from authority when it comes to any criticism he receives, and leads to its own problems and contradictions when taken to extremes.

That aside, it’s hard to disagree with most of what he says here. Baseball is not an etiquette class. It’s fun and its enjoyable for fans. It’s a high stakes competition for players, but one which creates moments of exuberance. To suggest that it’s wrong to experience the exuberance and provide some fun and some entertainment is silly. In his final year in the bigs, it’s pretty clear that David Ortiz is not gonna pay too much attention to such silliness.

It finally comes out: Several White Sox players complained about Drake LaRoche


When the Adam LaRoche news broke last week — which, from now on, we will refer to as DrakeGhazi — the claim was made that the process was set in motion by Ken Williams. Chris Sale and Adam Eaton unambiguously claimed in the media that no player on the White Sox’ roster had a problem with Drake LaRoche. Adam LaRoche said, in his statement, that his only issue was with Ken Williams, strongly implying the same. Even Ken Williams — at least publicly — said that limiting and/or barring Drake LaRoche’s access, which led to Adam LaRoche’s retirement, was his call.

As I said when this story came out, it didn’t add up. Sale and Eaton’s talk of the clubhouse being unified and Williams’ nodding about the “bonding” of the clubhouse over all of this didn’t make sense. Rather, I and many others surmised, this was likely a situation in which White Sox players — maybe several of them — complained to Ken Williams about Drake LaRoche’s presence and Ken Williams (a) was doing their bidding in limiting/barring Drake LaRoche’ and (b) took the heat for it so there was not a clubhouse rift. Occam’s Razor suggested that this was the more likely situation, no matter what the official line was.

Occam’s Razor did not fail us. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports:

. . . while the early evidence frames this as a Williams vs. LaRoche battle over clubhouse time for LaRoche’s son, multiple baseball officials with direct knowledge of the Adam LaRoche brouhaha told USA TODAY Sports a different tale.

Several players and staff members privately complained to White Sox management recently about the constant presence of LaRoche’s 14-year-old son, Drake, in the clubhouse.

While one may be tempted to say this doesn’t much matter now because LaRoche is gone, the fact is that the behavior of all of the parties in the past few days makes this a pretty big deal.

There was a heated team meeting about this on Tuesday. A meeting Chris Sale said presented a White Sox team entirely on the same page regarding the LaRoches. So much so that a boycott of Wednesday’s spring training game was considered. In the following days Sale accused Ken Williams of lying when he said that players or coaches complained and he hung up the LaRoches’ jerseys in his locker. The team kept Drake LaRoche’s nameplate up on his locker in his memory. Yesterday Adam Eaton talked about how Drake LaRoche was a team leader, for crying out loud.

Now Sale and Eaton — and, one presumes, some other players for whom they were speaking — know that what they initially believed was not true. They now know that there was not unanimous acceptance of Drake LaRoche. At the very best the Sale-Eaton contingent have to be embarrassed at how far out on the limb they got on this, portraying clubhouse ambivalence as clubhouse unity. More concerning, however, is that the Sale-Eaton contingent may now feel as though their teammates lied to them. Either by voicing disingenuous support for the LaRoches while they secretly complained or by keeping silent and allowing that impression to be created.

There will be some tempted to play the role of savvy cynic and say “eh, Sale and Eaton probably knew others complained and were just being dramatic.” I think that’s pretty unlikely. To say the things they said and to act in the manner they did — remember, they were talking about boycotting a game over this — while knowing that others in the clubhouse didn’t agree with them would itself be an act of clubhouse dissension. They’d be publicly rubbing their teammates’ noses in the matter and passive-aggressively calling them out. That’s not something players would do lightly or easily. No, I believe they took the stance that they did because they truly believed they were in an us (players) against him (Ken Williams) situation. I believe that they believed that no uniformed White Sox personnel had an issue with Drake LaRoche. Remember, when Ken Williams privately suggested that to Sale, Sale accused him of lying.

They have now found out they were wrong. Moreover, I presume that they will soon find out who, exactly, complained about Drake LaRoche. They will find out whose complaints set the ball in motion for the retirement of one of their favorite teammates and whose silence led them to, quite frankly, take some pretty ridiculous public positions on the matter. And then they’ll have to spend the next six and a half months working, traveling and living with them.

That ought to be fun.

Adam Eaton: “We lost a leader in Drake”

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2015, file photo, Chicago White Sox's Adam LaRoche, left, and his son Drake walk to the White Sox's clubhouse during a photo day before a baseball spring training workout in Phoenix. Told to cut down his son's time in the clubhouse, LaRoche took a different path: He said he planned to retire and walk away from a $13 million salary. White Sox President Kenny Williams confirmed Wednesday, March 16, 2016, that he twice asked LaRoche in the last week to "dial it back" with his 14-year-old son. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

There are arguments on both sides of the Drake LaRoche matter. As I’ve said: I get it if the team wanted to get the kid out of the clubhouse and I’m sympathetic to the White Sox players over what many of them perceive to be Ken Williams jerking them around. I still think there’s more to it than we know, but the players who have been vocal seem to be genuinely upset about how it all went down and, hey, we all hate it when work stuff goes south.

At some point, however, you gotta just suck it up and do your job. No one died here. Feelings may linger and everything, but at some point you can lay it on a bit too thick.

For example:

Um, OK.

Theory 1: Eaton is really super broken up about all of this and, as any of us might from time to time, is engaging some hyperbole here due to a momentary loss of perspective.

Theory 2: A 14-year-old boy really was a team leader for the Chicago White Sox.

If you’re a Sox fan, you had better hope it was Theory 1 because if it was Theory 2 your boys are in some serious, serious trouble.