On Papi's angry answers

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On Papi's angry answers

Thanks to the Celtics, I'm just getting caught up on this David Ortiz story.

If you missed it, last night after the Sox comeback win Ortiz was asked about the player's only meeting that he called last week. One in which he allegedly addressed the pitching staff not carrying its weight (resisting fat joke), and has in some ways been credited for the Sox recent turn around.

His response, as they say in the Dominican, was absolutely ridiculous.

"Let me tell you, I was reading an article that talked about the leaders people call 'leaders' in this town," Ortiz said. "Basically, it seems like no matter what you do, it's not good enough ...And you can only call leaders the guys who are out diving for balls on the field or calling pitches behind the plate?"

He continued: "I don't get no respect. Not from the media. Not from the front office. What I do is never the right thing. It's always hiding, for somebody to find out."

Yikes, Davey. And he wasn't done there, but nothing else he said really expounded on the basic point. Essentially, that Ortiz doesn't think he gets enough credit not from the fans, the media or the front office for being a leader in the Sox clubhouse because most of his work is done behind the scenes and he doesn't care who finds out.

Now obviously his reasoning is a little flawed. What Papi said pretty much amounts to making an anonymous donation and then getting pissed when the guy who signed his check gets all the attention. But whatever, I don't want to pick on Ortiz. The guy's had a great season, and I'm sure this fact has only heightened his aggravation over not getting that long term deal. And after all, it's not really up to me or anyone else to judge who the leaders are on that team.

I'm obviously not in the clubhouse, and even the guys who are don't get to see what really goes on. I'm sure they hear stories, and pick up pieces here and there, but no one knows exactly how much Ortiz means and has meant to that team behind the scenes except for the players and coaches who are actually there.

But for the sake of conversation, here are three reasons that despite how long he's been around and how much he's accomplished between the lines I've never really considered David Ortiz to be a great leader inside that clubhouse.

1. He's spent the last few years publicly bitching mid-season about the lack of a long term deal.

2. Last season, he barged into his manager's press conference to cry about the disappearance of one RBI.

3. Last October, in the aftermath of one of the worst collapses in baseball history, Ortiz said this about playing in Boston: "There's too much drama, man. There's too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don't know if I want to be part of this drama for next year."

Now, I could be wrong. And the fact that he did call that player's only meeting, and that it seems to have garnered a pretty significant response, suggests that I am. That we are. That maybe the fans, the media and the entire organization is sleeping on how much positivity Ortiz creates behind the scenes.

But even if his clandestine leadership tactics deserve more respect, there's no question that his leadership in the public arena has repeatedly come up short.

Like the time when he was asked about calling a team meeting that may have helped turn around the season, and turned into sob story about no one in the world respects him.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.