The Fox Hole: On David Price, David Ortiz and unwritten rules


David Price is the LeBron of MLB. Former #1 pick. Plays in a small market, so his impending free agency is destined to hold the franchise hostage until he inevitably jumps into a swimming pool full of gold coins elsewhere.  And MLB loves to turn the camera on the affable, photogenic 6’6″ everyman (“that’s my dog, Astro“) who, oops, just happens to have a rocket arm. But what if he’s actually a jerk?

New England is fired up. MLB suspended Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman for throwing behind Evan Longoria while Price somehow skated after pegging multiple Red Sox hitters. David Ortiz isn’t mincing any words, either. He knows Price threw at him intentionally and Price didn’t do anything to quiet the rumbling. The pitcher still has a welt on his rear end after Ortiz launched two moon shots off him in the ALDS and took his time rounding the bases, an historic miscarriage of justice that put a bee in the bonnet of the Rays, arbiters of all that is good and right in baseball, and Price’s girlfriend.

I love how Price chides Ortiz for characterizing the rivalry as a “war,” as if combat analogies are not endlessly deployed by his pro and college sports peers and the breathless pundits who chronicle their every move. He’s different from the rest! So enlightened.

“No one is bigger than the game,” says a man who dishes out his own brand of frontier justice by aiming baseballs at human body parts. That’s respecting tradition, right there.

A while back, I read Jason Turbow’s The Baseball Codes, an entertainingly thorough survey of the unwritten rules of Major League Baseball (Turbow maintains a blog on the subject here). One can do heaps of research in an attempt to make sense of things, but in the end, all you’ll wind up with is a coloring book. It’s astoundingly clear that the code is something one manipulates to serve his own agenda. Brian McCann and his former Atlanta Braves teammates earn platinum sheriff badges in this regard.

This is the long and short of former MLB pitcher Dirk Hayhurst‘s (@TheGarfoosebiting criticism of the unwritten rules on Deadspin yesterday. I haven’t gotten around to reading Hayhurst’s books, but as I understand it, he’s persona non-grata in MLB dugouts. Why? Because he goes beyond the Neanderthal soundbite and shows fans a side of the game the establishment doesn’t want people to see. He’s a writer! He’s no ballplayer! The same thing happened with Jim Bouton 40 years ago. It doesn’t help that Hayhurst was a fringe Major Leaguer whose brief time in The Show was halted by a shoulder injury. Writers are soft, after all.

Deadspin baited similarly porcelain-armed hurler and Twitter maven Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) to respond to Hayhurst and the righty balked, presumably for the aforementioned reasons.

Funny how it all comes full-circle with Hayhurst and our guy, David Price. The lefty’s Twitter remarks after flaming out in Game 2 of the ALDS at Fenway last October:

"Dirk Hayhurst…COULDNT hack it…Tom Verducci wasn’t even a water boy in high school…but yet they can still bash a player…SAVE IT NERDS"

Price later apologized because he had to.

We’re not going to reach any resolution, here. Boys will be boys. And you know what the means, David Price?

“Bring the gloves.”