David Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Players

Anyone who saw the Red Sox play in the mid 1970s can tell you about the violent clashes between catcher Carlton Fisk and New York Yankees’ catcher Thurmond Munson. It seemed like anytime the Yankees came to Fenway the two all-star catchers would fight, but they weren’t the only ones. Throughout the next thirty years or so, Fenway would see its fair share of brawls, particularly in 2003 when Pedro Martinez defended himself when Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer charged at the Red Sox ace only to be thrown to the Ortiz Criticizes Crybaby Playersground. Brawls of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were epic; a symbol of defending one’s honor. But in an interview with NESN, David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players who he says are too serious and don’t know how to have fun playing baseball. Ortiz’s word reflect how brawls today start not to defend one’s honor but because players can’t control their emotions.

“Quite frankly, I think baseball wants to be too serious about what we do. Whenever we have any reaction within the game, people want to make it about, ‘Oh, he’s a showboat,’ you know? People need to realize that this is a game. OK, we get paid a lot of money. But it’s a game. You have to have fun.”

Brawls today seem to start because players are too sensitive. Many don’t like when an opponent does something like fist pump or cheer when he hits a home run, or strikes out the order. Take for instance the Jose Bautista feud with the Texas Rangers last fall. After hitting a home run, Jose Bautista flipped his bat as he started his run around the bases, incensing the Rangers players who accused him of showboating. It eventually led to revenge when Rougned Odor landed a punch to his face after Bautista made a questionable slide towards Odor’s legs at second base earlier this season. While most people love a good brawl, the fight between Bautista and Odor didn’t start for the right reasons. It started because the Rangers couldn’t take seeing a player better than them hit a home run. In other words, players like Odor and the Rangers don’t like seeing any kind of showboating, which in my opinion equates to whining.

Is Ortiz Right Or Does This Reflect Society?

“There are a lot of crying babies in baseball,” Ortiz told NESN. “There’s all the complaining and bitching about things. When you strike me out and pump your fist, I don’t care. That motivates me to go out and hit a homer the next at-bat. I don’t really mind. But whenever you hit a homer, and you do what you do, everyone starts complaining. For me, the reality is, I don’t pay attention to any of that crap.”

Some might say that this trend reflects today’s society where every kid gets a trophy, and people can’t say speak their minds because others get offended too quickly. On a larger level, what this trend reflects, whether it’s in baseball or just in America, is that people don’t know how to control their emotions. Thankfully for the Red Sox, players like David Ortiz can control his bat as well as his temper (most of the time). So the next time David Ortiz criticizes crybaby players, I’m going to see what led him to voice his opinion instead of choosing to get offended.

Does Bigotry Plague Baseball?

I didn’t intend on thinking about the question “Does bigotry plague baseball?” this week. After all, it’s not an easy topic to discuss. But a question at a ballgame last weekend made me reflect. I was watching the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway last Monday when a novice fan tapped me on the shoulder. “Can you tell me who the good players are?” Toronto was batting, and Jose Bautista was warming up in the on deckBigotry Plague Baseball circle. “He’s pretty good,” I said. “He’s the one who got a lot of flack for flipping his bat after hitting a home run last year.” The guy’s face lit up and pointed Bautista out to a friend while repeating what I said before turning back to me, “Who cares if he flipped his bat? He can’t get excited?”

What does a flipped bat have to do with bigotry? Purists of the game flipped (pun intended) after seeing Bautista’s enthusiastic gesture, which made many ask: Does bigotry plague baseball? After hearing what New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage said on ESPN, some say yes: “He’s embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him.” Many wondered why Gossage had to mention Bautista’s Latin heritage at all. Why is that important? Bautista isn’t the first to flip his bat. So for many, it’s not so much the enthusiasm that players show when they hit a home run, as much as how the color of their skin can sometimes influence the way opposing players and fans react. This issue has plagued baseball since the days of segregation, particularly the Red Sox, who were the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate when Pumpsie Green joined the team in 1959.

Baseball has made enormous strides towards combating bigotry. Jackie Robinson Day has become an annual celebration where all baseball players wear the number 42 to commemorate the man who broke baseball’s color barrier. But comedian Chris Rock recently made comments that made me think further about the problems with bigotry that remain in baseball. Rock said being a black baseball fan makes him an endangered specie while criticizing the game’s unofficial codes, “When you score in baseball,” Rock said on an episode of HBO’s Real Sports, “the code says: ‘You better not look too happy about it.'” Since then, Chris Rock has said that because of its conservative attributes, baseball is still living in the past and isn’t keeping up with what makes other sports so exciting. So when Bautista flipped his bat, many of those who love the history and tradition of the game found themselves at a crossroads. Many didn’t know how to defend their love for baseball’s honor without looking like they were also defending its flawed past. How do you defend the game’s longstanding traditions without acknowledging that past?

No One Wants to See Bigotry Plague Baseball

Of course, no rational person wants to see baseball return to the days of segregation.  However, it is important for baseball to continue with the strides it has made since Jackie Robinson integrated the majors. So if bat flipping signifies that baseball is progressing, then its purists should keep in mind that it’s not a departure from the honor in baseball, as much as it is a departure from the bigotry that plagued baseball in the first place. Issues like Bautista’s bat flip don’t always have to be about race and ethnicity, but it’s an effort that all parties have to keep in mind if the game is going to continue making strides towards equality.