Ranting to the media has come as easy as knocking one out of Fenway for David Ortiz this season. But just like a home run, the rants always seemed to serve to the team on some level. There always seemed to be a method behind Ortiz’s madness (or maybe anger). His rants always made sense.
In May, when Red Sox veterans were criticized for not showing leadership, Ortiz went off.
He told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com:
I'm the kind of [expletive] who worries about winning games. I'm a winner. I hate losing. But what I do, I don't do for everybody to know. I do it for us to get better and the trash talking out there to stop.
Ortiz took the bullet for everyone else. It made sense. Someone had to react, and that someone was Ortiz. He should be applauded for putting the weight of the clubhouse on his shoulders.
In June, Buster Olney of ESPN reported there was unhappiness among the Boston players and staff. He went on to say it was "multi-layered and deep.”
Ortiz was not going to go down without a fight. Ortiz simply would not let Olney’s statement sit in the air with no response.
And when Ortiz responds, he responds big time. The larger-than-life figure has rants that fit his massive frame. Concerning Olney, Ortiz told reporters:
If he wants to make a comment like that, why don't you ask me a question first. I run this (expletive) clubhouse right here. This clubhouse has no problem. The last problem this clubhouse had was last year when everything came down to what it was in (September), but since then everybody's cool and everybody's trying their best to win games. (ESPN)
Once again, a statement like that showed a willingness to take a bullet for the team. It effectively made the story about Ortiz, not the clubhouse. It is something a leader does.
He was also able to partly disarm the media by acknowledging there was a clubhouse problem last September.
But his latest rant on July 4 seems almost completely self-serving. After a game where much of the talk should have been about Ortiz getting to 400 home runs, he took the time to talk about his contract status.
Ortiz told the USA Today:
If you go crazy and give contracts to whoever comes along despite not knowing how they're going to do, then you don't give me my due consideration, even though I do my thing every year, [expletive] that. I'm going to be open to anything. My mentality is not going to be, 'I like it here.' It's going to be bring it to the table, and we'll see what happens
It is clear Ortiz feels disrespected on some level. It is also clear Ortiz equates his contract with respect.
Players talk about contracts all the time. But this rant was different. He indirectly criticized the contracts some of his teammates have. We have no way of knowing who Ortiz is speaking of, but we can speculate. John Lackey and Carl Crawford come to mind.
Crawford has a seven year / $142 million contract.
Lackey has a five year / $82.5 million contract.
Ortiz has a one year / $14.58 million contract.
Ortiz has obviously meant more to the Red Sox, and the city of Boston, than Crawford and Lackey ever will. But he is a 36-year-old DH who probably will not get a long-term deal anywhere.
Often it is more a perception of respect than actual dollars when it comes to contracts. But when Ortiz touched on the contracts of his teammates, he did not show the same respect for them he so passionately demands for himself.