Major League Baseball ruled yesterday that Red Sox starting pitcher Brandon Workman will be suspended for six games and fined an undisclosed amount for his role in the May 30th bench-clearing incident with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Workman intentionally threw a ball behind the head of Rays third baseman Evan Longoria during the sixth-inning of the game and was promptly ejected. In the eyes of home plate umpire Dan Bellino, this was seen as retaliation for Rays pitcher David Price hitting two Red Sox hitters earlier in the contest.
In my opinion, the ejection, suspension, and fine of Workman is completely justified. To endanger the health of other players by throwing intentional pitches in the head/neck area is unacceptable behavior no matter what the situation is. However, for David Price to be completely absolved of any wrong doing in this incident by the league is foul on many levels. Let us examine each misstep that was taken by the league, the umpires, and Price in handling this situation.
Umpires were already on alert before this Rays/Red Sox series in Boston even began because the previous incident between these two clubs occurred in St.Petersburg less than a week earlier. Therefore, if Price’s first-inning pitch that hit David Ortiz in the hip was deemed to be intentional, Price should have been ejected immediately. For umpire Bellino to simply issue warnings to both sides appeared to be a cop-out move in my opinion. Let’s call that misstep strike one.
After a warning was already issued to both sides, Price then hit Red Sox first baseman Mike Carp with first base open and two outs in the fourth-inning. A lengthy discussion ensued between the umpiring crew and it was determined that the second hit batter was not intentional. As a result, David Price was allowed to stay in the game. The Red Sox did not retaliate after the first hit batter, but the moment that Price was not ejected for the second hit batsman, it added even more fuel to the fire in my opinion. The Red Sox eventually took matters into their own hands and sent a message to the Rays franchise player Evan Longoria the next time he stepped to the plate. Strike two.
Finally, Price’s sorry excuse of an apology after the incident should have raised eye brows in the league office. After apologizing only to Carp and not to Ortiz, it sent a clear and distinct message that his pitch to Ortiz was intentional. In addition, the story has come out that Price is still fuming over Ortiz’s two-home run performance against him in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS. By not suspending Price for his childish behavior against Ortiz, it looks as though Major League Baseball is perfectly OK with the fact that its players are settling personal vendettas with each other on the field of play. Strike three.
This is clearly an embarrassing situation for all of baseball and there is plenty of blame to go around. Multiple parties involved have failed to conduct themselves properly; from the umpiring crew which allowed this issue to escalate by not ejecting Price on two separate occasions, and Major League Baseball by not issuing any sort of penalty to David Price in the aftermath of this incident. But in my opinion, the main offender in this situation was our own pitcher, David Price. While he is one of the elite hurlers in all of baseball, I feel as though Price has really let the entire fan base of the Tampa Bay Rays down. Letting a petty issue between he and David Ortiz take precedent over the actual game is a selfish act on his part, and that is not how the Rays do business. If you ask me, Price should be more concerned with lowering his bloated earned run average and less concerned with settling a score with an opposing player. Get your head in the game David.