After a good Monday night, you might think all would be well in Red Sox Nation on Tuesday morning. Boston just scored an 8-6 comeback win in Baltimore, has won nine of its last 11 games and is no longer the sole occupant of last place in the AL East, thanks to the slumping New York Yankees.
Alas, not even the team finally climbing back to the .500 mark at 21-21 can calm the stormy waters. After Monday's win, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz teed off on fans, media and front office types like they were the Tommy Hunter pitch he parked on Eutaw Street earlier in the night.
The issue: After 10 seasons of stellar play in Boston, Ortiz is irked that more people don't see him as a leader of the Red Sox.
So irked in fact, that he even took the time to mock the fact that two players — Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek — have traditionally been held up as "leaders" in The Hub.
"Let me tell you, I was reading an article [that] talked about the leaders people call 'leaders' in this town," [Ortiz said]. "Basically, it seems like no matter what you do, it's not good enough.
"And you can only call leaders the guys who are out diving for balls on the field or calling pitches behind the plate?" [...]
"I don't get no respect," he said. "Not from the media. Not from the front office. What I do is never the right thing. It's always hiding, for somebody to find out."
As someone who's not privy to the daily pulse of Boston's sports talk radio and message board chatter, I'm actually kind of surprised to learn that Ortiz thinks he's unfairly treated. While he complained a few years ago about his early obituaries after a poor start and blamed the media for being hit in a Yankees series last year, it would seem that he usually has it pretty good. After all, he's more or less the Red Sox version of Andy Pettitte — the guy who earned the benefit of selective omission when it comes to not being criticized for past PED use.
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Yet given that preferential treatment, Big Papi has somehow also developed quite the persecution complex. He was apparently angry on Monday night because someone in the media asked why he hadn't called his team meeting earlier than May 11 (just after Josh Beckett's golfgate). Ortiz probably has a right to be angry with such nitpicking — as he asks, how much earlier could he have called it? But a full-on rant? One that takes aim at both a current teammate and a former one? It seems petty.
But as Ortiz says, he's always done his leading from the batter's box and he's doing the same this year. Despite the team's early struggles, the 36-year-old DH has still posted a line of .333/.402/.616 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. In other words, exactly the type of numbers that make it worth sitting through his annual grumblings about being underappreciated.
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