Red Sox News: David Ortiz isn’t happy with Mike Fiers for being a “snitch”
By Drew Athans
Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz made his thoughts known on whistle-blower Mike Fiers’ role in exposing the Astros’ cheating scandal.
As spring training games begin this week and the Houston Astros cheating controversy rolls ever onward, players around Major League Baseball have been chiming in on what they think about it. Most of the invective thrown at the Astros has focused on how they seemed to get away with it, how Commissioner Rob Manfred botched the punishments handed out, and how they feel the Houston players can be expected to pay for it in the batter’s box this season.
Among those players who have had strong words to say about the Astros were many Boston Red Sox players, most notably newcomer Jonathan Lucroy. Perhaps the most surprising comments on the matter came from a former player and a Red Sox legend. David Ortiz sat down at spring training and spoke with the media for a half hour and among the many topics of discussion were the Houston Astros.
Veering off in a direction that most likely surprised those who heard him, Ortiz had this to say about how the scandal came to light:
"“I’m mad at this guy, the pitcher that came out talking about it, and let me tell you why,” said Ortiz, referencing Mike Fiers. “Oh, after you make your money, after you get your ring, you decide to talk about it? Why didn’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’re looking like a snitch. Why do you have to talk about it after? That’s my problem. Why did nobody say anything while it was going on?“All those things that are going on right now, it’s not out there, because it’s going to be a huge distraction for the game for a while, and you don’t want that. I retired, it’s going to be four years now, and I have so much fun watching this game because of the talent out there. There is incredible talent right now. You watch the game, and the speed, physically the guys are in unbelievable shape, everyone’s in their 20s. It’s fun to watch. Then this thing comes in and I think it’s going to be a distraction for the whole season, and we need to avoid that.”"
Echoing his former teammate and fellow Sox legend Pedro Martinez, Ortiz seems to take more issue with how the scandal came to light than the fact that it actually happened. Like Martinez, Ortiz seems to be referring to a code of loyalty/discretion/silence/whatever one wants to call it that in essence makes the clubhouse a place where “what you see, hear, and say here, let it stay here.” This phrase was mentioned as far back as the seminal book Ball Four and it’s apparently still in effect today.
It’s fair for Ortiz to criticize Mike Fiers for waiting until after he benefited from the cheating before blowing the whistle on it, but he then used the reasoning that because there are a lot of talented players on the Astros and that this will be a distraction to them and fans for the foreseeable future, it somehow made what Fiers did wrong. I don’t buy that and based on what I’ve read from around the country at both the media and fan level, most other people don’t either.
After calling Fiers a “snitch,” Ortiz further elaborated:
"“I still don’t know how come nobody was like, ‘That is wrong.’ I just don’t know how no one says something about it, during, not after,” Ortiz said. “I was in the clubhouse for a long time and never anything like that comes up. But now they’re going to have to deal with that for a long time. It’s not only a situation that involved players. You’re talking about the whole franchise.“There’s more people involved in this than we think and let me tell you why: If you heard all the banging every day, you heard everything going on every day, people are not stupid. If I’m a fan that comes to that stadium every home game, at some point, I’m going to hear that banging, and I’m not talking as a fan. Like, ‘How come there’s this banging going on every time we’re hitting?’ It came to the point where it was obvious to everybody, it was too obvious.”"
Here he seems to be saying that Fiers and other players, both within and outside of the Astros organization, who have since spoken out about this should have said something as it was happening to put a stop to it before it got to this point where it’s affecting the careers of not only the current Astros players, but the franchise as a whole. Again, Ortiz makes a valid point but he then laments once more that it’s going to affect the franchise going forward.
It’s not clear how or why he thinks that’s on Fiers and not on the Astros as an organization since they were the ones who were behind this behavior, not only condoning it from the front office on down but actively participating in it. Perhaps most surprising of all, Ortiz then offered up a defense of Commissioner Rob Manfred, the one man who has taken a beating as badly as the Astros have in this whole debacle:
"“I’ve been watching the whole thing,” he said. “The commissioner is getting so much heat about this, like it was him who made that mistake, and I don’t agree with him getting all the heat. It’s because the reality is, not one player has come and said, ‘it was me who started this up.’ Everybody is passing the ball like when you’re playing basketball. All the commissioner can do is have a team investigate what’s going on and do what we all know he knows how to do. The commissioner, Manfred, has been legit since Day 1. And I don’t think it’s fair for everyone pitching him questions and blaming things on him. We all know he has the power to suspend people and make decisions. But it’s only to a certain point. After that, he has no control over whatever happens in the investigation.”"
There were more to his comments on Manfred, but in the interest of brevity (and in order to keep this article family friendly), they’ve been left out. You can read his full statement in the link provided or listen to it in the video above. Ortiz made some valid points in saying that Manfred can only do so much since he hasn’t gotten a straight answer (or admission of guilt) from any of the players involved.
At the same time, all this does is further reinforce the perception held by most that his punishments were either A) handed out prematurely so this matter could be swept under the rug, and B) willfully light in the hope that he wouldn’t anger the player’s union ahead of the next CBA negotiations.
Ortiz has taken a lot of flak for these comments and while he raised some good points about the fact that the Astros players who knew this was going on allowed it to continue for three seasons (because let’s be honest, no one believes it only happened in 2017), it still doesn’t excuse the fact that it did happen and that Fiers did both the league and fans a huge favor by exposing this so it can be stopped for good.
Fiers has been receiving death threats but has also accepted culpability for being a part of what went on in 2017, saying that he would accept any punishment from the league that’s might be headed his way (which is easy for him to say this when he knows none is forthcoming). Manfred absolved Fiers by saying he did everyone a great service in helping to clean up this practice across baseball. Perhaps Ortiz should bear that in mind and instead direct his ire at the truly guilty party in all of this, the Houston Astros.