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State of 'War' Now Official Between Red Sox, Rays

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Austin Tedesco for Boston.com

Move over, Montreal.

Give us room, New York.

Make way, Peyton and Wes.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox surpassed the tipping point in their rivalry Friday night at Fenway Park. The Rays have officially reached "Sports Hate" status across New England and among Red Sox partisans elsewhere.

This time, it was personal. David Ortiz, he of the King's Speech in Game 4 against the Cardinals and the "f-bomb" heard 'round the world last year, issued the formal declaration.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have often been lauded in this space as an overachieving franchise guided by a sharp manager. Last week, after witnessing Tampa Bay's sweep of the Red Sox at full price for three people over three days, you read here about how childish the Red Sox were during Sunday's mass temper-tantrum at Tropicana Field and about how well the Rays played at the critical moments in those three games.

Now, we must deliver equal time. The completely fraudulent side of the Tampa Bay Rays and their manager, Joe F. Maddon, was blatantly exposed at Fenway Park Friday. That's not a Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone "F," but rather a Rick Pitino or Bobby Valentine "F."

[His real middle initial is "J." but not as far as we're concerned.]

The manager of the Class AAA-like/classless franchise that is the last-place Rays began the night by speaking about how what happened last week was behind both teams.

"For me, it's a totally dead issue. I kind of forgot about it," Maddon said before the game on Comcast Sports Net.

It took all of one pitch for David Price to drill David Ortiz in the lower back with a 94-m.p.h. fastball.

High-fives all-around in the Rays' dugout.

Ortiz yelled furiously at Price during the game.

Afterward, he slugged away in his post-game remarks.

"First at-bat of the season against him, he drilled me," Ortiz said, reported Boston.Com's Steve Silva. "That's means it's a war. It's on. Next time he hits me, he better bring the gloves on. I have no respect for him no more.

"You can't be acting like a little girl out there all the time, you give it up, that's an experience for the next time, but you gonna be acting like a little bitch, every time you give it up."

Ortiz hadn't appeared this upset since under game conditions since he unloaded on that bullpen phone last August in Baltimore.

"I had a lot of respect for the guy, but it's over. I got no more respect for him. Last year, we kick his ass in the playoff [and] he went off," Ortiz added in remarks aired on NESN. "Later on, he called me and apologized. He knows he was wrong. He apologized in public. He apologized to me. Everything was cool."

When asked if he thought he knew why Ortiz might be so angry, Astro's master answered simply: "No."

While Ortiz spoke of a personal battle between himself and Price, the diamond disdain between these two teams has intensified to where Red Sox-Rays is now a legit and for-real intense Boston sports rivalry. Big Papi's declaration just made things sort-of official.

The umpiring was absurd and literally senseless. The Red Sox were down to their fourth manager by the time A.J. Pierzynski's hit to centerfield scored Jonny Gomes to win it.

John Farrell was summarily ejected for trying to protest the warning issued after Price plunked Ortiz. When Brandon Workman won the 2014 Ryan Dempster Memorial Award and threw one behind Evan Longoria in the top of the sixth, and was booted along with then third manager of the night Brian Butterfield. He was an automatic ejection as acting manager.

Credit Greg Colbrunn for his first victory as Red Sox manager.

1-0. A perfect 1.000.

Price's pitch that hit Ortiz was Pedro-esque in its message and delivery. It was reminiscent of the game on Aug. 29, 2000 at Tropicana Field. That night, Martinez began the bottom of the first by drilling Gerald Williams with his fourth pitch of the game and then retired 24 straight Devil Rays. The Red Sox won that brawl-filled affair 8-0 and it began a historically-short-but-intense history of juvenile behavior and ugly baseball between these franchises.

The Rays were once the resident joke of the A.L. East. The Red Sox actually clinched their 2004 and '07 playoff berths against Tampa Bay in St. Pete. [My son and I were in attendance at both games as ticket-buying fans.] Ahh, the good old days.

The Rays didn't break the 70-win plateau until 2008, when they defeated the Red Sox in seven games in the ALCS. The Red Sox balanced the playoff scales in last year's ALDS.

In that series, Ortiz homered twice off Price in Game 2. He didn't run quick enough after his second home run.

Quickly, the excuse, explanation, and justification for this was quickly posted on social media by the dutiful scribes covering the Rays.

"If you're mad after I took you deep twice, let me know. I've hit more than 500 home runs in this league. That's part of the game, son," Ortiz added.

Hell, even the teams got in on it.

The Red Sox played the theme to "Barney" when the Rays were taking batting practice Friday. This was in retaliation for the Rays not playing music while the Red Sox took BP last week.

The Rays responded with this:

Beyond the kid's stuff by the franchises, the Rays were pathetic in their desperation Friday night. The Red Sox showed their fugly side last Sunday by protesting the Rays taking a base down by five runs.

The Price and the Rays showed a dangerous and irresponsible side by not only planting one in Ortiz's back but adding potential injury to insulting behavior with a pitch nailing Mike Carp's high and inside in the third inning. Carp did not take Price deep last week when they faced each other. He went 0-for-5 in Boston's 6-5 15-inning loss during which Price threw eight innings. Ortiz missed that game with a strained calf. When Price faced the Red Sox in spring training on March 16 in Port Charlotte, Fla., Ortiz stayed back in Fort Myers.

What was Price's excuse, or Maddon's explanation, for nearly beheading Carp? Before Friday night, Price had hit two batters in 77 innings. He hit two in 3.2 innings Friday. Twice before Price had hit two batters in game. One of those occasions came against the Red Sox in 2012.

After the game, Maddon praised the umpires for their discretion in ejecting three Red Sox managers and Workman, but no Rays. "What happened last week did not precipitate what happened" Friday night, Maddon added.

Who knew Bobby V. was back in town?

Maddon's "bespectacled genius" act died at Fenway Park Friday night. Now, he's simply a "bespectacled phony." Maddon's team had lost four straight heading into this game and had settled back into last place. That's Tampa Bay's historic default position.

Desperate times indeed in St. Pete.

It's as if every Denny's coupon expired on the same day.

Maddon and his team said all the right things before the game. Before Price drilled Ortiz, Price and the Rays knew full-well the infamous "warnings" would be issued. That would leave the Red Sox to respond. Seeing Farrell tossed was an added bonus.

Ortiz said he believed Price was acting on his own. Still classy, even when he's pissed.

The Red Sox, now 25-29, transcended the Rays "Baby Ball" and won in extra innings. That was indeed the only acceptable answer to this foolishness.

#WalkOffCity extended its run for a night as the cowbells fell silent 1,200 miles to the south.

The game ended after Juan Carlos Oviedo hit Gomes in the 10th with one out. He was the third Boston HPB of the evening. Pierzynski then swatted a change-up to right-center field. Wil Myers and center fielder Desmond Jennings crashed into each other trying to make the catch. Myers was face-planted in the warning track dirt as the ball rolled to the far wall. Pierzynski reached third by the time Gomes won it.

Only one thing was missing:

Maddon and his smirk have reached the World Series once during his reign as Rays manager. He saw his team quickly dispatched in five games. You'd think Maddon was the modern day incarnation of Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, or Billy Martin given the praiseworthy prose and laudatory broadcast coverage he's received in recent years.

For the self-righteous who wish to bow at Maddon's feet or play the "Ortiz was juicing in 2013 card" without any proof, please note that Maddon's Rays signed Manny Ramirez [along with Johnny Damon] in '11. That was two years after Ramirez's PED suspension and three years after he "quit" on the Red Sox.

"I don't want them to come in here and think they have to do anything other than what they've done throughout their careers. I want them to come be themselves on a daily basis. ... Leadership often times to me, that word is really thrown out there way too loosely. I think guys really lead by example more than anything within a major league clubhouse. Both of these guys have exemplary work habits. The success over the course of their careers also lends to credibility,"
- Joe F. Maddon, Feb. 1, 2011

More desperation. More deception. More misdirection.

They play two more times this weekend, including a national TV game on Saturday.

Price and the Rays opted to "goon it up" baseball-style Friday. The Red Sox, at least for one night, took the best cheap shots that Tampa Bay offered and snagged a difficult victory, their fifth straight.

That's just how World Champions are supposed to do it.

Something David Price and the Tampa Bays Rays cannot comprehend.

The OBF Column is written by award-winning journalist, Bay State native and Boston.Com columnist Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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