Red Sox David Ortiz Anger: A Good Or Bad Thing?

May 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) hits a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) hits a two run home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fourth inning at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Red Sox designated hitter, and face of the franchise, David Ortiz lost his temper with officials yesterday against the New York Yankees. Is that a good thing?

Yes, it’s never a good thing for the opposition to win a game against you, especially a division rival like your most historic enemy. Sometimes, however, a show of anger over the matter can either be harmful or it can be inspiring.

Ian Browne of reported what happened last night: “What ensued was enough frustration for manager John Farrell and Ortiz to boil over in disagreement with home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa, and for both manager and slugger to be ejected. After getting ahead 3-1, Ortiz took two contested called strikes to end his at-bat. The Red Sox felt the 3-1 slider was outside and low, but the borderline offering was called a strike. Catcher Brian McCann‘s glove drifted off the plate as he received the pitch.”

Kulpa said that he saw the pitch move through the strikezone before it hit McCann’s glove out of it. When the Red Sox manager tried to talk to Kulpa to distract him from Ortiz getting upset about the call, “Farrell instead got ejected, though he never did leave the dugout. Farrell actually motioned his arms at Kulpa, indicating the umpire should be thrown out.”

Ortiz tried his best to settle himself down to finish the at-bat, but absolutely lost it after another pitch went below his knees and was still called a strike. Again, Kulpa had the pitch through the strikezone before it met its destination, but this time Ortiz wanted nothing to do that explanation. He returned to the dugout only to run back out and verbally express his frustration, prompting Kulpa to have him join his manager in the locker room for the rest of the game. The Yankees later won a close 3-2 battle at the expense of Red Sox anger boiling over.

Ortiz later said, “You don’t want to have that back and forth with the umpires. They’re humans. They’re going to make mistakes […] But the game on the line, that situation, Yankees and Red Sox, adrenaline is kicking in, I’m locked in. I’m not thinking about [anything] else.”

From the optics, it would appear that Ortiz and Farrell were throwing tantrums, whether they were in the right or not. The sport of baseball and the umpire’s jobs are left to much subjectivity, that even replay booths cannot completely eliminate. Ortiz is right to say that an umpire’s job is harder than it sometimes looks.

From the perspective of Red Sox Nation, however, who cares? Ortiz getting angry is not exactly the worst thing for the team, in the long run. Ortiz getting thrown out of a game could cost Boston a win? Maybe. Ortiz getting fired up is a good thing? Most definitely.

How many players can you remember being as fired up in their final year as Ortiz, in any professional sport for that matter? Future NFL Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning was fired up this year and even won a Super Bowl on his way out, but he was nowhere near dominating defenses like he was in his prime. Future NBA Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant was excited about his final season with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was lightyears away from when the Black Mamba struck fear in the hearts of his competitors.

Ortiz is 40 years old and planning to retire at the end of the 2016 season, yet his bat has been hotter than almost anyone in the major leagues, way hotter than his temper was last night. While hitting .313, Big Papi is leading the Red Sox and is sixth in MLB RBIs (25). He is eighth in the majors in slugging percentage (.646), when his age would dictate a much larger decline. And, that’s not all. Ortiz is also 15th in the majors for on-base percentage (.404), meaning that the undisputed leader of the Red Sox is helping his team in every way possible, not just by trying to crank home runs.

In his last seven games, Ortiz is hitting .357 with four home runs and nine RBIs, and he’s doing it without just swinging for the fences each time. Does that sound like a has-been player on his way out? The 20-year veteran is hitting better than he did in 2013, when he put the team, and the city of Boston, on his back and won a World Series championship.

Next: Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees: Series Preview

Now, let’s re-examine that temper tantrum of last night. That’s just David being David; he cares a great deal about the game, his team, and the city of Boston. He’s not just going to let an umpire dictate to him what is right and wrong when he feels strongly that an error in judgement has been made. Nobody is condoning his actions, but nobody should be condemning them either. If anything, Ortiz’s mouth just was doing what his bat has been saying with its production, lately. Ortiz does not want to cruise into that good night at the end of September; he wants that night to go well on into November in a blaze of post-season glory. Any member of Red Sox Nation want to stifle that raging motivation?