Once again, Ortiz speaks mind to media

Once again, Ortiz speaks mind to media
August 22, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Everyone’s seen the quote by now, but here it is again. You know, just to set the mood. It’s David Ortiz, yesterday afternoon in San Francisco, on the topic of Ryan Dempster, Alex Rodriguez and the “unintentional” intentional Sunday night bean ball.

“I didn't like it. I don't think it was the right thing to do,” Ortiz told USA TODAY Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz (no relation, at least I don’t think). “But we don't all think alike, and the guy who did it, Dempster, is a great guy. It's not that I didn't think it was right because Alex and I are friends, because once you cross the white lines, everyone's on their own.

“But we've got Tampa right on our heels, and that pitch woke up a monster in the Yankees' team at that moment. You saw how the game ended up. CC (Sabathia) was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up. But we learn from our mistakes.”

Hmm, do we really?

In the aftermath of what Ortiz said, the conversation has turned to why he said it. And here are the three most popular opinions.

1. He’s trying to protect himself.

The Yankees couldn’t retaliate on Sunday because it would have resulted in an ejection, but we all know that retaliation is coming. At some point during the upcoming four-game series (September 5-8) between Boston and New York, a Red Sox player will get hit. And obviously, it’s not going to be Stephen Drew or Jarrod Saltalamacchia. It’s going to be someone on A-Rod’s level, and no one fits that role better than Ortiz. If Vegas set odds on the Sox player most likely to take a fastball in the ribs, Papi would be the clear favorite.

So, by speaking out against the move, maybe he’s looking for immunity?

Like: “Hey, guys. Listen. I didn’t have any part of this. I’m on your side! You don’t really want to hit me, do you? Nah, you don’t. Just hit Pedroia. That makes a lot more sense.”

2. Alex Rodriguez is his friend.

From everything you’ve heard and read, A-Rod doesn’t have a friend left in the entire world, never mind in the game of baseball. But the truth is that he and Ortiz are very close. In fact, they had dinner together in Boston last Saturday night. (For some reason, I picture them sitting on the same side of a booth, sharing a bottle of sparkling water and a plate of spaghetti.)

So even though Ortiz goes out of his way to say that he’s not speaking out against the HBP because A-Rod’s his friend, it’s still very likely that he’s doing it because A-Rod’s his friend. Because he doesn’t like the way A-Rod’s been treated and feels like standing up for a guy who no one else is willing to stand up for.

3. He genuinely believes it was the wrong thing to do.

And Ortiz wouldn’t be alone in this belief. For the past week, there have been hoards of fans and sportswriters flailing their arms over how much they disagree with Dempster’s actions. He was selfish! His priorities are out of whack! He picked the wrong time and place and make a statement!

And you know what, if that’s the case, Ortiz is entitled to his opinion. He’s entitled to every opinion under the sun. If he didn’t agree with hitting A-Rod, I wouldn’t blame him for not wanting to be a part of the retaliation. There are few things in the world less appealing than stepping into the batter’s box with an inkling that a 95 MPH fastball might be targeted for your torso.

If he really is a friend of A-Rod’s, and he is, then you can understand his displeasure with what happened in that first at-bat.

And obviously, given how the rest of the game played out, the way the Yankees have played since and the general state of the AL East standings, you can certainly understand why Ortiz might look at Dempster and think: “Now why’d you have to do that? Should that really be our focus right now?”

But now that this story and Ortiz’s quotes are out in the open, everyone in that clubhouse can ask Papi the same thing.

“Now why’d you have to do that?”

I mean, you want to talk about the wrong time and place to make a statement? About putting unnecessary crap on the team’s plate at a time when every ounce of focus should be on winning?

It’s one thing to have an opinion on what happened. But it’s another thing to voice that opinion in the public forum. Good teammates don’t do that. The same way Ortiz’s teammates never publicly ridiculed him for constantly bitching about his contract in the middle of the season for three straight years. And never called him out for barging into his manager’s press conference to throw a tantrum over an RBI. And didn’t say one negative word after he went ballistic on a dugout telephone and nearly decapitated his All Star second baseman.

Why? Because that’s not what you do. That doesn’t help. The media never helps.

You’d have thought that Ortiz would have learned that by now. You can only assume that he has learned that by now. Which makes his decision to speak out publicly against Dempster all the more curious.

Regardless of his reasoning, the same question keeps coming to mind:

What did the team have to gain from Ortiz publicly saying what he said?

The answer is nothing.

So he shouldn’t have said it.

But hey, we learn from our mistakes.