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

Associated Press
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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.