This is usually the time of year in baseball when something happens to a team that eventually gets referred to as the "turning point." We won't know for sure until the season is over, but my bet is on Big Papi and the nutty he pulled in the Red Sox dugout last Saturday.
It all started when a 3-0 pitch was called a strike. It was a bad call, anyone could see it was way high. Not even close. Ortiz had already thrown his bat aside and was ready to trot to first, when he was called back by plate umpire Tim Timmons. The at bat ended with Ortiz striking out. And then it happened. As Ortiz cussed and ranted on his way back to the dugout, the cameras hung on to his every move. The big guy was not going go down quietly. No way.
We've seen David Ortiz do some damage with his bat this season, but the wild swings he took out on a dugout phone will go down as the most destructive. Let's just skip over the fact that Papi's wild tantrum could have killed his freshly minted 100 million dollar teammate. Dustin Pedroia sat within inches of the ferocious bat of his teammate.
Typical Pedey, he never flinched. OK. He ducked for cover.
If you missed it, here is the replay.
Remember that scene from "The Shining" with Jack Nicholson?
Jack Torrance: Stop swingin' the bat. Put the bat down, Wendy. Wendy? Give me the bat...
Instead the psycho mad man played by Nicholson, we could have had little Pedey pleading, "Put the bat down Papi. Papi? Give me the bat."
Too late, Ortiz destroyed the telephone box for all the world to see. It was violent, angry, and some great theatre. I loved it- and not once did I think his rage was steroid induced. This is the Papi we have come to know and love. Remember, this is the same guy who told the world last April that "this is our f-king city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom!"
Nobody messes with David Ortiz. And we do mean "nobody."
Papi is an emotional guy. He does not 'speak softly and carry a big stick,' like Teddy Roosevelt. Papi let's his bat do the talking, whether he's at the plate or in the dugout.
Ortiz got tossed from the game. No surprise there. He got his best revenge the next day when he went 4 for 4 including a two run homer. (20th this season)
After he hit the home run on Sunday, he playfully pretended he was going to smash the newly replaced dugout phone box again. I liked that too.
Let's just forget about anger management, and what kind of example this sets for kids who saw the incident. Please. Can everybody just lighten up?
Papi's teammates did, that's for sure.
Like the yucksters they are, Ryan Dempster and Jonny Gomes strung together a couple of vegetable cans with some string, right there in the same dugout. Then, according to reports, they had this conversation.
Dempster: Can you hear me?
Dempster: Ok, let's go straighten out the bullpen phone now.
Our friends at Verizon would be proud.
NESN's Jenny Dell captured the photo and sent this tweet.
Dempster has a background in stand up comedy, and this bit was really funny. We may see the parody soon on Saturday Night Live.
Much has been made of the Red Sox "intangibles" this season. The bat, the busted phone box, and the tin cans attached with string taught us something else about the personality of this team.
The Red Sox have a sense of humor. Let's add that to the intangible list of character, team chemistry and respect for the manager.
In the short term, the most important thing is that the Red Sox took 2 out of 3 from the Orioles. Best of all, Ortiz and his teammates got the last laugh.
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