The Red Sox have a storied history of hating the Rays, and vice versa. We know this by now. How we know that much of it isn’t personal, however—that it’s pretty much been a loathing of laundry—is when a member of one team joins the other.
Welcome, David Price, to the welcoming arms of the Fens.
A couple of years ago saw a different tenor. During the 2013 ALCS, David Ortiz homered twice against Price, and failed to run the second one out to the pitcher’s satisfaction. (Had Price paid any attention to Ortiz’s career, he would know that, too, was not personal.) Price responded the following May with a fastball spree against Boston, drilling Ortiz as the opening salvo of what became an increasingly contentious game.
Afterward, Ortiz referred to his rivalry with Price as “a war.”
“It’s on,” he said in a Tampa Bay Times report. “This guy that hit me better bring the gloves on. I have no respect for him no more.”
Oh, how things change. In December, Boston signed Price to a seven-year deal worth $217 million. Turns out that money goes a long way toward letting bygones be bygones. “I needed that,” Price said of his welcome, in an ESPN.com report.
There is copious precedent for this type of thing. In but one example, in 1976, Cubs third baseman Bill Madlock responded to a knockdown pitch from Giants starter Jim Barr (who hadn’t even knocked down Madlock, but the preceding hitter, Jose Cardenal) by letting go his bat on a follow-through, and sending it flying toward the mound.
Barr, among the game’s most noteworthy red-asses, drilled Madlock almost immediately.
The hitter, furious, ended up reaching over plate umpire Paul Runge to punch at the pitcher, setting off a 20-minute melee highlighted by Gary Matthews’ blind-side attack on George Mitterwald, which bloodied the Chicago utilityman’s nose and cut his cheek. After the game, a posse of Cubs, led by outfielder Champ Summers, waited in the clubhouse runway for Matthews. A full-scale riot was averted only by an alert Wrigley Field security detail.
Nine months later, Madlock was traded to the Giants. He precluded potential tension shortly after the deal by proclaiming that he was looking forward to becoming friends with Barr. It was enough to soften the pitcher, who welcomed him warmly to spring training.
“[Madlock] came over to me and said, ‘We friends now?’ ” said Barr. “I said, ‘You bet.’ There was no animosity after that. We were friends for the three years that he played for us.”
Hopefully things work out as well for Price and Ortiz.