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

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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.”

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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.”

Joe West explains the fan interference call he clearly blew

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One of the biggest plays in a game full of big plays in last night’s Red Sox-Astros game was the call of fan interference that took a home run away from Jose Altuve.

Well, actually, it didn’t technically take a home run away, because right field umpire Joe West never called it a home run to begin with. He called it, sorta, tentatively, fan interference and it was thrown in the lap of replay officials.

For my part — and, it seems to me, for the part of most folks watching the game — West blew the call. The fan in question did not reach out onto the field of play — Mookie Betts‘ glove entered the stands — and the rules clearly state that no interference is called if a spectator comes in contact with a batted or thrown ball without reaching onto the field of play. It’s only if he or she reaches out onto the field. If the ball is in the stands, all’s fair in love and souvenir-snagging.

After the game, West was interviewed about the call. Here is how he explained it.

 

Q. What did you see that prompted the initial call of fan interference?
JOE WEST: Well, when he jumped up to reach for the ball, the spectator reached out of the stands and hit him over the playing field and closed his glove.

Q. So the ball had not yet crossed the railing?
JOE WEST: No.

Q. And Betts’ glove had not yet crossed the railing, do you believe?
JOE WEST: No.

Q. Okay. Did the fan —
JOE WEST: Here’s the whole play, here’s the whole play. He hit the ball to right field. He jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That’s why I called spectator interference.

Q. So it’s a clear call in your mind?
JOE WEST: Yes.

Q. Were there already — was there a single call that you saw, that the replay officials saw on replay that confirmed —
JOE WEST: I don’t know what he saw. He just — the replay official said I was right.

Q. Okay.
JOE WEST: That’s all. He said I have nothing that can change it.

That last bit is not entirely true, by the way. They didn’t say, specifically, that West was right. Rather, they could not find sufficient evidence to overturn West, so the call stood. Which is an important distinction: if the ruling was that West was definitively correct, the ruling would’ve been that West’s call was “confirmed.” That is not what they said. They said the call “stands,” which meant that they didn’t have enough evidence to overturn West.

That’s a different issue in its entirety, by the way: the deference given to the field umpires and the high burden replay officials have to overturn them. Here, I suspect it was a matter of them not having sufficient camera angles establishing that the fan had not reached onto the field. I think that’s nuts given what even the primary view and some basic common sense showed — Betts did not run to the wall and then jump straight up, failing to break the plane into the stands — but the current replay system places a high burden on replay guys overruling the field umpires.

That whole setup is dumb. This is not the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and guys like Joe West should not be treated like District Court judges to whom deference should always be granted. Replay officials have better views almost every single time and they should be able to simply substitute their judgment rather than meet some high burden aimed, I suspect, at making field umpires feel like they’re not losing power now that baseball takes a 21st century approach to officiating rather than a 19th century approach.

Unfortunately for the Astros, that is not how the replay rule works. Unfortunately for the Astros, Joe West’s judgment was to be deferred to. Unfortunately for the Astros, West blew that call and, unfortunately for the Astros, it cost them a two-run homer that could’ve changed the outcome of this game.