Boston Red Sox: ‘Big Papi’ shoots the messenger, bypasses the message

Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz seems to think Astrogate is all the fault of Mike Fiers and those in and out of the game hammering Rob Manfred’s judgment.

For those who persist in believing Mike Fiers was nothing more than a rat fink, you have an ally in David Ortiz. The former Boston Red Sox designated hitter/bombardier unloaded on the Astrogate whistleblower at the Red Sox’s spring training ballpark Thursday. And he demonstrated that even those among the most beloved of Red Sox heroes past can shoot with only half a bullet in their pistols.

“Oh, after you make your money, after you get your ring, you decide to talk about it,” Big Papi fumed. “Why don’t you talk about it during the season when it was going on? Why didn’t you say, ‘I don’t want to be no part of it?’ So you look you like a snitch. Why you gotta talk about it after? That’s my problem. Why nobody said anything while it was going on?”

Clearly Ortiz was only marginally aware if at all that there were those around the game including Fiers who talked about the Houston Astros being likely high-tech cheaters prior to Fiers finally taking it to The Athletic last November.

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There were players telling writers, teams complaining to the commissioner’s office, while it was going on and well before Fiers finally blew. The players weren’t willing to put it on the public record, the writers couldn’t get their editors to pass without even a single on-the-record source, and the teams’ complaints didn’t exactly fall upon deaf ears or blind eyes but didn’t exactly prod commissioner Rob Manfred or his minions to jump into a pool they weren’t sure was filled, either.

But the man who so often shot baseballs into the seats on behalf of the Boston Red Sox triumphs prefers to shoot the messenger and ignore the complete message.

In fact, Ortiz thinks Manfred is taking an unconscionable level of heat for what his critics think was insufficient punishment upon the Astros, and for what Ortiz thinks is people behaving as though Manfred himself was involved directly with the Astro Intelligence Agency.

“We all know that he has the power to suspend people and make decisions, but it’s only until a certain point,” Big Papi continued. “After that, he had no control whatever happened in the investigation. I saw an interview that he did the other day. I feel bad for him because people are asking him questions like he was the person who started this [crap] up.”

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How about before that, when Manfred could very well have hit the Astros with deeper penalties than suspending a since-deposed general manager and manager, fining the organization seven figures, and suspending two years’ worth of top round draft picks?

“He don’t tell you how to hit or how to pitch, so let him do his job,” Ortiz said. “He’s going to do what is best for the game. He’s not the type of guy who’s going to accept you screwing things up in the game and tell you where to go. People need to chillax. People need to let him do his job. People need to let him do what he thinks is better for the game and everything else. Stop putting him in the spot and telling him what to do. That’s what I think.”

He don’t tell you how to hit or pitch? Then whence the three-batter rule, among other things?

But Manfred is the type of guy who’ll tell you where to go if he catches you screwing up, even if his directions aren’t entirely sufficient. He didn’t exactly tell Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch to go to bed without their supper and come back contrite the next morning.

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The timing of Ortiz’s blasts is intriguing, too, considering Manfred has yet to pronounce judgment upon the Boston Red Sox’s replay room reconnaissance ring, which probably had as much to do with the departure of 2018 World Series-winning Red Sox manager Alex Cora as Cora’s demonstrated involvement in the AIA when he was the Astros’ 2017 bench coach.

Nobody’s blaming anyone but the Astros for the AIA shenanigans. And Manfred in fairness hasn’t been half as much of a klutz as Astros owner Jim Crane was at last week’s too-embarrassing, non-apologetically apologetic presser. But the commissioner hasn’t exactly been a complete tower of surety, either.

Vacating the Astros’ 2017 World Series title would lead to a path of surrealistic fragmentation, but surely there were stronger sanctions he could have imposed without alienating even recalcitrant Astro fans or the players’ union—whom he tried in a by-the-way fashion to blame for the immunity he granted Astro players to spill about the AIA in Fiers’s whistleblowing wake.

“What Fiers did,” tweets my colleague and editor Manny Gomez, “was to finally force MLB’s hand into actually doing something about it.” You can call it a dirty job if you must, but you must admit concurrently that, all things considered, somebody had to do it.

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Ortiz provided generous thrills during his playing career for the Boston Red Sox. Now he’s provided an unexpected chill.