The argument is simple:
-- David Ortiz is saying he deserves more than a 150,000 raise after a season in which he hit .309 with 29 home runs, 96 RBI, a .398 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage (that's a .953 OPS).
-- And the Red Sox are saying no players similar to Ortiz -- aging, one-dimensional designated hitters -- make anything close to the 16.5 million he's seeking.
Today, unless the two sides reach a last-minute agreement, an arbitrator gets to decide who's right.
The Sox and Ortiz will present their cases in St. Petersburg, Fla., with the arbitrator eventually having to decide whether Ortiz will earn what he's asking for (that 16.5 million) or what Boston is offering (12.65 million). The Sox have a history of settling with their players before the hearings -- they last went to arbitration in 2002, against Roland Arrojo -- but two months of fruitless negotiations have led us to this point.
The problem, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone, is that the arbitration process is bruising; the team's argument is best made by pointing out the player's weaknesses. And since Ortiz can be touchy and sensitive in the best of times, you have to think he's not going to be a very happy camper when this is over, even if he wins. Especially since he's given the Sox a couple of team-friendly deals in the past, which may be another reason why he's sticking to his guns this time.
If they haven't settled by now, odds are they probably won't. But there's always hope.
For everyone's sake, let's hope they do.
Like the rest of the baseball world, the Red Sox expressed shock and sadness over the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident in Miami.
David Ortiz tweeted his thoughts before the game Sunday in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays.
There was a moment of silence for Fernandez - who attended high school in the Tampa area after defecting from Cuba at 15 - before the game at Tropicana Field, and before all major league games on Sunday.
There was to be on-field ceremony for Ortiz before his last game at the Trop, part of his retirement farewell tour, but it was canceled at Ortiz's request. A video tribute to Ortiz was shown during the game and the Rays gave Ortiz his retirement gifts privately.
Ortiz wiped away tears during the moment of silence. He wrote "RIP Jose" on his cap.
Fernandez had joked about how he wanted to give up a home run to Ortiz when he faced him as an N.L. pitcher in the All-Star Game this past July.
"I told him yesterday that I am going to throw him three fastballs down the middle. I want to watch him hit a home run," Fernandez had said.
Ortiz ended up walking against Fernandez, prompting this response from Big Papi:
First baseman Hanley Ramirez, who played for the Marlins, as well as other Red Sox players, also tweeted their reactions after hearing the news of Fernandez's death Sunday morning.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters last week that spending time with Bill Belichick can make you "feel pretty inadequate as a coach."
But Belichick raved about Stevens during a conference call on Sunday. The two spent time together on Friday night for the Hall of Fame Huddle fundraiser to benefit Belichick's foundation, and the Patriots coach explained that he's learned a lot from the Celtics boss.
"Got to know Brad ove the last couple of years," Belichick said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done, taking a young team, a team that we barely knew some of the players on the team, and in a couple of years has built them into a strong team last year and played very competitively in the playoffs. Fun to go over there and watch them.
"Brad and I have talked about a lot of things that are just coaching-related. Obviously the sports are different. I don't know anything about basketball, and he says he doesn't know much about football. It's really not about Xs and Os and that kind of thing. It's more the other parts of coaching: Prepartion, training, team work, team-building, confidence, communication, players and coaches relationships and so forth.
"Obviously we're in the same business in taking more people to training camp than we can keep on a roster, then managing a roster and dealing with things that happen during the year with that roster, whether it's bringing other guys onto the team, trades and so forth. We've chatted about a lot of those things. He's given me a lot of insight.
"I'd say some of the players they get are a little younger than the guys we get on average. Kids that are coming out of college after one year, we get them after three years or four. Just the trans from college to pro which he obviously has a lot of experience with. Coming to the New England area for most players, that's an adjustment, we don't get too many guys from this area. All of those things like that."