Different Approaches on Ortiz

The discussions of David Ortiz and his comments last night about not being recognized as a team leader have brought out some very different perspectives on the longtime Red Sox DH.

If you missed it, Gordon Edes (David Ortiz blasts naysayers) had a column running down Ortiz’s comments, where he calls out the media for how he believes they anoint team leaders:

“Well, let me tell you, I was reading an article [that] talked about the leaders people call ‘leaders’ in this town,” he 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?”

To an extent, Ortiz has a point. When the subject of Red Sox team leaders comes up – and it has numerous times over the last eight months or so – the names most commonly brought up have been Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia. Even over the years, Ortiz has never really been viewed in that role. He’s been assigned the “chemistry guy” role, where everyone loves him, and he serves as a bridge between the latin players and the American players.

Edes cites Mike Aviles as someone who praised Ortiz as a leader, and John Tomase (David Ortiz leads by example) has Daniel Bard also praising Ortiz, saying:

“He’s a leader, whether he likes it or not,” Bard said. “Everyone listens to him and respects him because of what he’s done. . . . Very few guys like to call team meetings, since it’s not a positive thing. It’s not fun to tell your teammates to pick it up, but sometimes it’s needed. What better guy to do it?”

The Tomase column is completely flattering to Ortiz. Then we come to Kirk Minihane. (Delusional David Ortiz strikes again)

I like Kirk. I think he often makes points that need to be made. Unfortunately, I think more often, he takes a controversial stance just for the challenge of it, and to bring attention to himself.

I think he took things a little to far this time. If you read Edes’ column above, Ortiz had a lot more to say than the follow bit, which is what Minihane choose to focus on and target with laser-like intensity:

To Ortiz, there is a lack of respect for what he has tried to do in his decade here.

“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.”

Minihane blasts Ortiz, saying that he has received nothing but positive press during his time in Boston. (In the plus column for Kirk, this means he hasn’t read any Dan Shaughnessy columns since 2003)

He then goes and makes a few veiled allegations about Ortiz and his late-career resurgence.

The media doesn’t respect him? Really? Again, find me all the critical pieces on Ortiz over the years. The media gave him an absolute free pass on the steroid stuff, closed their eyes and collectively walked away from it. And you know why? They like Ortiz – he’s jokes around with them in the locker room and is always accessible. It’s that simple. And now we are reading stories about Ortiz’s remarkable late-career production that never mention his PED history. I mean, if the media truly didn’t respect Ortiz wouldn’t there be a lot more speculation as to how Ortiz has a 1.019 OPS at age 36?

(Oh, forget it. NESN.com has gone Woodward and Bernstein on me, right when I wasn’t looking. Here’s the headline from this morning: “Mike Aviles, David Ortiz Credit Healthy Diets for Continued Success This Season.” Here’s one highlight — “Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has taken a cue on adhering to a diet as well. In an attempt to reduce his cholesterol –– and avoid taking medicine –– the 36-year-old trimmed roughly 20 pounds by cutting out alcohol and munching on more vegetables.” Sold. Didn’t we used to read this stuff about guys back in 1998 with no irony?)

The whole bit is very Mike Felger-like, which I assume is what Kirk is aiming for. Maybe it’s just me, but I read this almost as threatening. Listen Ortiz, don’t you turn on the media, or we will unleash a maelström of PED allegations on you so fast your head will spin.

Edes had an updated post this afternoon: What Ortiz was talking about last night where he notes that Ortiz was referring to – shockingly – a summary of a Felger and Mazz show that was posted on the 98.5 website. On that show, the duo – in angry voices, no doubt – demanded to know what took so long to call the meeting which is now being credited with helping to turn things around.

It seems that the real part of Ortiz’s comments that should’ve been focused on, was this line – Basically, it seems like no matter what you do, it’s not good enough.

Ortiz has a gripe there. He called the meeting, and what do the Tony Massarotti’s of the world say? How come he didn’t do it sooner?

Some reporters in town do treat Ortiz with kid gloves. The Tomase piece is a great example. Others play it down the middle, as Edes did. Then you have the Minihanes, Felgers and Massarottis of the world, which unfortunately is where the slant of most sports coverage is right now.

  • 02062

    Why does the media always have such a hard time dealing with Dominican players?  Pedro, Manny, Ortiz. 

    • Saunders Brothers Party Rental

       Dominican players?  You just mentioned 3 baseball players.  Congrats.  How about the other sports?  They club Brady for his hair style and spending too much time with Gisele.  They club Tim Thomas for his politics because they don’t agree with him and they  bash Kevin Garnett as a “fake” tough guy.  It is far from just Dominican players. 

  • Bullock

    Did anyone happen to hear the week of F&M when Mazz was out after surgery? They had Gasper and another chap whose name escapes me filling in. It was great radio. One host bashing everything in his path (Felger) and a co-host taking him to task, asking for a basis (stats, sources, reasoning) for said opinions. It was very good radio.

    The problem with Felger and Mazz is “You’re absolutely right, Mike.”

    • latetodinner

      Sean McAdam was the other host.

  • HighWireNickEsasky

    I don’t listen much on weekends, but had it on a few months back and there was a guy on EEI who sounded so much like Felger i thought i had the other station on.  Same intonations, diction, that lame pause when making a point.  And he was generally just stirring cr8p. Pretty sure it was Minihane…Felger-lite.

  • Peter Foley

    I used to enjoy F & M, epecially when EEI had DeOssie and Smerlas running wild over anyone who dared to counter their opinions. F&M have gradually devolved into Grassy Knoll radio where there is controversy or conspiracy lurking around every corner.  For kicks, I sometimes tune in to F&M then time how long it takes for Massarotti to say “Suck”, “Sucks” or “and it Sucks.” ( I guess this could be a drinking game in the spirit of “Hi Bob.” ) EEI in the afternoon has improved more because Ordway and Holley compliment each and they actually have discussions instead of affirmations.  How long will it be before the ratings reflect what appears to be weariness with F&M?

  • Raziel

    Tek/Trot/Wake are leaders…Manny/Ortiz/Pedro aren’t

    Hmmmm

    Seems to be a pattern

    • Guest

      I’ll take the race bait… how about Victor Martinez? I recall him being praised as a great clubhouse leader pretty regularly in his time with the Red Sox.

      • latetodinner

        Tony Pena also.

  • Danmateus

    For the most part I still find most of the sports media in this town to be subtly racist. Old perceptions of different races run rampant in the local talk around here. 
    Dominican players are “lazy”.
    Black basketball players are “loud” and “showoffs” in “that League” a fav of   from the white guy from Wisconsin.
    And white guys like Dustin and Youkilis are leaders and “dirt dogs” which is a compliment. I’m still waiting for ONE minority player to ever be called a dirt dog on the Sox.
    If this has missed you then listen closely next time and you see racial stereotypes re-enforced constantly in the media.

    • whitey b

       And it was Youkilis who tore the clubhouse apart two years ago by riding the injured Ellsbury like John Holmes on a 13 year old.

  • mscully221394

    This is a difficult time for Felger and Mazz, what with the Celtics (and KG’s) resurgence in the playoffs and the turn-around act in process by the Sox.  Finding new targets to negatively harp on has proven challenging.  Not to fear, Felger has managed to down-play the C’s by continually asserting that not only should they easily be taking down the Hawks and Sixer’s – in fact, HE called that they would do this months ago!  And anything less than knocking off the Heat will be an unsuccessful season…   Unbelievable…  One interesting note surrounding yesterday’s Ortiz outburst was the contrition that Mazz seemed to feel for his involvement.  He mentioned a number of times how they (Papi and himself) wrote a book together, and used to be somewhat close.  Of course most of his humility and self-awareness occurred during the Baseball Show post-6PM – not during his YARM time with Felger.  

    • Danmateus

      It’s too bad that Mazz obviously feels like he has to kiss Felger’s tush at every turn. This was the same guy who used to go after Ordway all the time on many subjects when he was just a guest! You would think that as a guest that it would make you more inclined to kiss the ring than if you had the security of your own show but it’s been the opposite. I think this has actually more to do with the personalities of the stars of each show. Ordway welcomes criticisms while it’s now obvious to me that Felger can’t take it (remember his meltdown over Mr.Baseball on the big show) and because he knows that his opinions are actually light on facts and more opinion,he can’t handle an overly challenging second host as Mazz used to be when he was on the big show. Felger’s  ego is out of control and you can’t tell  the emperor that he’s not wearing clothes over there on 98.5. Funny considering that even though they’re beating the Big Show they are now the Hubs 3rd rated show. I know I find myself listening to the Big Show again because dear God,they actually talk sports again without a lot of contrived anger and rumor mongering. This what competition does. I will now have to swing back to WEEI to get real sports talk again. The same reason why I switched to the other guys 3 years ago. 
      The pendulum swings…

  • bsmfan

    Actually, yesterday, it was English-major-Allstar Jermaine Wiggens challenging Felger about his Celtics views and positions.

    Wiggens lack of command when it comes to language made it like a one-legged man in an asskicking contest but it was funny when he got mad because he kept pausing like he wanted to hit Felger. Man that would have been good.

    CSNNE/SportsHub must be driven nuts now because this is worse than his salary cap position.

  • latetodinner

    Bruce,

    Great post by you but I think it skirts the real issues.

    1) The difference between reports/reporting/reporters and opinions/comments/commentators.  I think you clearly illustrate the lack of quality reporting on the Ortiz story and how the opinion generators were able to hijack it and shape the conversation.

    2) The obfuscation of reporting as it has generally been turned into free PR by the teams/players/leagues.  When Mike Reiss publishes after a Pats game the direct press release given to him by the Pats PR staff showing milestones and achievements and no one scratches their heads as to why this is news worthy of ESPN, I have to wonder why.  You hear frequently Glen Ordway make the excuse for the beat writers that they can’t ask hard questions because they will loose access.  So instead of being objective reporters…they now “selectively” report on things to “protect” access.  I think Minihane’s point about PED’s is spot on.  Ortiz is an admitted user, although we are still waiting for his explination.  To think at 36 he has found the fountain of youth after the past few seasons is fanciful.  He might have, but I think it is perfectly normal to suspect and investigate.  The fact no one is shows that the reporting around the team is “off”.

    3) The players on whole feel entitled.  Look at ortiz…the guy is making $15 mill this year and thinks he is unappreciated.  He singles out that it is the media who does not appreciate him and his role.  He could have just as easily found a way to fault the fans, management, or ownership… whatever fit his fancy.  Its never his fault.  

    • Atreyujones

       Just to nitpick a little, but Ortiz is not an ‘admitted user.’  Also, his performance at 36 is not really different than last year, so he didn’t need a fountain of youth.  But you are right to suggest that only a naive person would not at least have some suspicions about him (or pretty much any MLB or NFL player).

      As far as the media investigating his PED use, it is tricky. Maybe they have investigated, but found no evidence.  If they found no evidence, that would prove neither his innocence nor his guilt, so they would have nothing to report and we would never know if they investigated. Also, it is a hard thing to investigate, assuming he’s not being unbelievably careless or failing tests.

      • latetodinner

        We are not really disagreeing that much. He admitted that he was on the Mitchell report list, that he had no idea what he put into his body when he was training in the Dominican and that he would get back to us with an explanation as to why he was on the list …it never happened. As for his performance being the same as last year…his April and May’s do not match up. He did not start hitting until June when there was all sorts of pressure on him. All of a sudden he “turned it around”. Maybe he got healthy, maybe he found the fountain of youth in a bottle. I know you cannot be guilty by association but Manny failed 3 drug tests and he certainly spent a lot of time with Ortiz.
        In any event, I completely agree with your second paragraph. It is a difficult story to cover. That does not mean that the reporters should not try or at least ask the questions…even if it makes things uncomfortable for the team or player.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/MWWDA5IBW7VOU7AJC2CQSUYBWQ Bruins309

          Ortiz wasn’t on the Mitchell Report list (which was very Met/Yankee centric since it used McNamee and Radomski as main sources). He was outed for the 2003 testing that was supposed to remain anonymous.

        • latetodinner

          I stand corrected.

  • whitey b

    Those ass-clowns. Don’t they know Don Baylor was THE reason the Red Sox on the 80s went from being runners-up to players? He was the guy who came in and took charge of the clubhouse. He stood up to Jim Rice. And yes, Baylor was a DH.

    If I didn’t have these damn shackles on, I’d go down there right now and kick some sportshack ass!