David Ortiz is a nine-time MLB All-Star, cranking out a sterling .321 average while pacing his Red Sox to a share of the most wins in baseball this year. Big Papi shouldn't have much to complain about, especially not a blown call on a single pitch.
But Ortiz absolutely lost it Saturday, exploding after what looked like ball four was called a strike against Orioles reliever Jairo Asencio. Ortiz would go on to strike out, and despite Boston's 7-2 lead in the seventh inning, he had some choice parting words for home plate umpire Tim Timmons, leading to a subsequent ejection.
What ensues is ridiculous to say the least. Papi has to be held back by bench coaches, teammates and manager John Farrell before grabbing a bat and smashing the dugout bullpen phone. Debris goes everywhere, and the swing itself just narrowly misses All-Star teammate Dustin Pedroia.
"I got 17 years in the league and I don't think I deserve to be disrespected like that," Ortiz said in a postgame interview. He was far from apologetic for the episode: "We're not snapping every day out there. There's a reason why we snap ... I'm not a bad guy and I'm trying to do my job. You don't take my at-bat away from me like that."
Pedroia later acknowledged the humor of the Red Sox's smallest player going against a man nicknamed Big Papi, but the issue itself is no laughing matter. Pedroia could have been seriously injured sitting next to Ortiz's swings, and the shattered phone pieces came dangerously close to his face.
However, it is encouraging, in a weird way, to see a veteran like Ortiz react so emotionally to something so mundane. Fatter contracts in today's sports result in many athletes losing their competitive drive, but Ortiz's meltdown over one botched call with his team already up five runs shows a star still taking the game seriously as ever. Farrell's done a commendable job in his first year as manager, and as long as this issue doesn't blow up into something bigger in the clubhouse, a little bit of unbridled passion doesn't hurt a game as stoic as baseball.
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