Let me start this off by saying that David Ortiz should share some blame in this situation, he is not completely innocent, not by a long run. That being said, someone needs to explain to me why David Price was not suspended for his actions last Friday night.
I get that plenty of you will think this is just a homer stance, but if you look at the actions without context, you would agree that Price deserves a one-start ban, just like Brandon Workman’s. Price threw at Ortiz with 2 outs in the first inning, which any avid baseball fan knows is the most common situation in which a player is hit intentionally. The umpire promptly warned both benches, having no doubt been briefed by MLB to be very strict after the benches cleared in Tampa the previous Sunday.
Price and Ortiz clashed last season after Ortiz watched or “pimped” one of his home runs that he hit off Price in the ALDS, so no one was really surprised when the 94 MPH fastball struck Ortiz in the back. What was surprising was Price trying to convince the media that he did not throw it intentionally. He said, “I’ve got to establish my fastball in. I had six lefties in that lineup. That’s my favorite side of the plate to go to. So I’ve got to establish in there.”
When discussing his pitch that hit Mike Carp, Price was much more apologetic, saying, “I 100 percent understand his frustration. Obviously that’s not the pitch I’m trying to throw, that’s not the pitch, if I was trying to hit him, that’s nowhere near the region it’s going to be. I didn’t mean to do that.”
When you analyze those comments against each other and factor in the fact that it was the first inning with two outs, it becomes obvious that Price hit Ortiz intentionally, let’s just get that out of the way, and if the league wants to be consistent, they would suspend him, because that is the precedent they have set in cases of pitchers beaning batters early in the game in no apparent retaliation.
In 2012, Cole Hamels stuck one in Bryce Harper’s back in the first inning of Harper’s national TV debut. When asked about the beaning, Hamels was honest, saying, “I was trying to hit him, I’m not going to deny it.” And adding, “I think unfortunately the league’s protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.”
Perhaps the most shockingly honest statement from Hamels was when he said, “It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues.’” Taking these statements into account, the league suspended Hamels for five games, which most pundits saw as a fair punishment for the offense. So my question to you is: how is what Price did on Friday any different from what Hamels did two years ago? Is the new rule that you have to admit to throwing at a guy before you can get suspended? If that was the policy, the league would just degenerate into pitchers throwing at batters all of the time and lying about it.
I fully approve of Brandon Workman’s suspension, he did, after all, throw at Longoria after both benches had been warned, but Price barely denied that he threw at Ortiz intentionally in the first inning in retaliation for something that happened months ago. Just because he didn’t say “yeah, I hit him on purpose” doesn’t mean the league can’t read between the lines and suspend him based on the circumstances alone. This was a game between two teams that dislike each other, who were coming off of a bench clearing brawl the prior weekend, and it was the first time Price faced Ortiz since their war of words last October (which Ortiz claimed they settled months ago but obviously Price feels differently).
The bottom line is that Price deserved to get tossed last Friday and suspended and neither of those consequences happened. All that this situation has done has further fanned the flames for potential clashes between the Sox and Rays throughout the season, and that is something that MLB most certainly wants to avoid.