Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sox-O's Tumult

by Mark Lawrence, Down-Under Editor

Sydney, Australia—July 9, 2011. At the moment that the Nobody Orioles reliever chucked a fast one a little too close to David Ortiz in yesterday’s blowout, I set my coffee down, leaned a little closer to the monitor and said: “Uh oh.”

What happened next has been broadcast and rebroadcast hundreds of times – it’s been written to death by scribes far more talented than I and been discussed in countless New England watering holes and I’m sure that everyone in the Nation is saying the same thing: Way to go, Papi.

When I read what the Nobody who started the whole mess had to say about it, I just rolled my eyes, shook my head and spat out some pretty nasty pejoratives – you know the routine: I called this prissy l’il pitcher a naughty word that compared him in a roundabout way to a fluffy little feline.

“I think you show them that we’re not backing down. We’re not scared of them — them and their $180 million payroll,” said Gregg. “We don’t care. We’re here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here and we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

Oh really? You’re here to play the game??

Looking at the sequence, I didn’t see any behavior from the Boston Nine that might’ve excused Gregg’s lousy sportsmanship. You buzz a fastball under a guy’s nose - not once, but twice - and then you decide to ignore what is likely the most menacing glare from the dish in all the Game. And what do you do next? Well, hell, you’re a smart guy; you bark a few sharp words of rebuke at the guy you’ve just thrown at, berating him for a slow trot towards first. What – exactly - did Gregg think was going to happen? Maybe he thought Ortiz would tip him a rueful nod – yeah, man, you’re right, I really should run out this pop-up – and buy him a soda after the game?

Of course, Baltimore has been enduring a seemingly endless losing streak lately and the frustration must have been very close to the tipping point early in yesterday’s game. But – and remember I’m nowhere near as knowledgeable about the game as most of you – isn’t this one of the most bush league displays from a visiting tam we’ve seen in a very long time? The only failure of sportsmanship I can compare this too is the behavior of that ageing pretty boy from New York City – old Tek cleaned his clock pretty well, as I recall, but that was years ago and in those intervening years, the Red Sox have consistently played the game like gentlemen should.

Of course, there’ll be the usual round of fines and suspensions, as there should be, but in all of it the Commissioner should focus his attention on the epicenter of this little earthquake – the Nobody Reliever from Fenway South – and forcefully remind him that petulance, frustration and bad sportsmanship have never formed part of the Great American Pastime.