Brandon Workman and the Boston Red Sox have every right to kick up a fuss.
Workman was suspended six games Tuesday by Major League Baseball for throwing a pitch in the vicinity of Evan Longoria’s head during Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The suspension, while relatively inconsequential, is absolutely ridiculous, as was the league’s entire handling of Friday’s developments.
The Red Sox weren’t happy following the game, and for good reason. Rays starter David Price got away with murder while the Red Sox saw four of their own, including Workman, ejected. The umpires were completely responsible for letting the game get out of control, when, in reality, the whole debacle should have been squashed from the get-go.
Price drilled David Ortiz with a first-pitch fastball in the first inning. Everyone and their grandmother knew there was intent. Price, owner of the league’s best walk rate, had a much-publicized beef with Ortiz during last year’s ALDS, and there already was a heightened awareness going into Friday’s contest — something the umpires were briefed on — because of the bench-clearing incident that occurred the previous Sunday at Tropicana Field. Even though warnings weren’t issued before the game, not ejecting Price only escalated a problem that could have been solved right then and there.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected for arguing after Price plunked Ortiz. He’d soon welcome company in the Red Sox’s clubhouse because bench coach Torey Lovullo got tossed after Price sparked a bench-clearing altercation by drilling Mike Carp with a pitch up and in. Price, who never denied hitting Ortiz intentionally, maintains he didn’t hit Carp on purpose. But given the warnings and that the teams already were on the verge of ripping each other’s heads off at that point, the umpires again dropped the ball by not sending Price to the showers.
The boys in blue certainly had their finger on the trigger when Workman delivered his purpose pitch behind Longoria, though. In Workman’s words, the ball didn’t even hit the backstop before the umps gave him the hook. Workman said after the game the ball slipped — actually somewhat believable given that the pouring rain made Fenway look like the final scene in “The Fan” — but even if there was a message behind his sixth-inning offering, it really was comical that that particular pitch was what sent home plate umpire Dan Bellino and crew chief Jeff Kellogg over the edge.
Price looking to settle a personal vendetta, hitting two guys and setting off a bench-clearing crap show? Child’s play, apparently. A purpose pitch located 30 yards behind Longoria in the pouring rain? Now we’re talking.
The real absurdity of the situation, however, is that MLB found it necessary to hand out supplemental discipline to a player not named David Price. Sure, Workman should have been ejected. But if the league wanted to send a message that Friday’s chaos won’t be tolerated, it’s Price who should have received a phone call. Or better yet, the league could have let a sleeping dog lie.
Workman said Tuesday he plans to appeal the suspension and start Wednesday when the Red Sox face the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. But the Red Sox certainly have gotten a raw deal in this year’s feud with the Rays.