Anyone who hasn’t seen David Ortiz’s outburst last night should watch immediately:
The count was 3-0 when Ortiz stepped out of the batters box and asked for time. Home plate umpire Tim Timmons refused, Baltimore pitcher Jair Asencio threw a pitch high and Timmons called it a strike anyways. It should’ve been ball four. A few pitches later, Ortiz struck out and had some words for Timmons as he headed back to the dugout.
Then Big Papi lost it. He took three huge swings with his bat against the telephone in the dugout. The plastic box that encases the telephone was destroyed with pieces of it and the bat flying in different directions. It was a pretty dangerous move by the Sox slugger. He nearly hit Dustin Pedroia with his swings and the flying plastic went off all over the place.
Immediately, Timmons ejected Ortiz, who came storming back on the field and had to be restrained by multiple Red Sox. In the dugout afterwards, Pedroia can be seen getting in Big Papi’s face, clearly upset about Ortiz’s dangerous tantrum.
Pedroia is just about the only player on the team that could get in Ortiz’s face there and have the right to do so. Big Papi is a team leader, a community leader and the face of the Boston Red Sox. He knows how important he is to this ballclub, but he also has a temper and has gotten mad at umpires over the years. It’s completely okay to get upset every once in a while – it happens to everyone, including Pedroia. But it’s not okay to take wild swings at a telephone in the dugout in close proximity to your teammates. That put not just Ortiz’s health in jeopardy, but also a number of other players. It was entirely unacceptable.
But, as I said, Ortiz is also a team leader and most players have so much respect for him to allow him a temper tantrum of that magnitude. Some players may even think he’s earned that right. He hasn’t. No player has and Pedroia told him so. Pedey is also a team leader and will be the face of the Red Sox for years to come after signing a seven-year deal last week. The deal takes him until he’s 38 years old and some people are a bit concerned about the length and significant amount of money tied up in it. But there’s a reason the Sox splurged on him. Pedroia is more than just one of the top second basemen in baseball. He’s also a great leader and clubhouse presence. He knew Ortiz was out of order and it was his job to tell him so. His teammates notice that. Young players notice that. They notice that he lets other players get upset about calls and is fine with it, but when a player’s tantrum puts other players’ safety at risk, it’s not okay. Not even when that player is David Ortiz.
After the game, Pedroia was asked about the incident and demonstrated his leadership once again:
It’s a good win. We have to build on that. Guys get frustrated. It’s part of the game. I just wanted to make sure David didn’t get too bad where he gets suspended or any of that. … He’s the biggest part of our lineup. We can’t afford to lose David for even one game.
That’s it. The issue is over. It’ll be on SportsCenter for a while and talked about on Monday. But Pedroia put it to bed here. He told Ortiz what he did wasn’t okay. He made sure the slugger didn’t get suspended by going after Timmons. He spoke to reporters after the game and focused on what matters: winning. The two probably cleared things up more in the clubhouse, but that stays there, as it should.
That, in a nutshell, is why Pedroia is so worthy of his new contract. Even though he’s in a slump right now, his leadership is still immensely valuable and a major reason why this Red Sox team has done so well this year. Don’t forget that when evaluating his new deal.