Who should have been suspended in the Red Sox/Rays mess?

Winslow Townson

Brandon Workman was suspended. David Price was not. Let's look at why and see if any of this makes sense.

There was a kerfuffle -- an amusing kerfuffle that almost resulted the Red Sox being managed by Don Zimmer -- and now there's fallout. It started with this:

Actually, no, it started with a home run that David Ortiz watched for a bit too long last week. Actually, no, let me back up, it might have to do with a home run that Ortiz hit off Price in last year's playoffs. Actually, wait, in the beginning, a 7-year-old David Ortiz was getting attention for doing something well in school, and he stood at the blackboard, processing the praise, and ...

This particular plunking led to a warning -- an instant admonition to both teams that the plunkings had to stop or there would be ejections. After the warning, any player hit would result in an ejection of the pitcher and manager.

Then David Price did this:

Price-carp_medium

Later in the game, Brandon Workman did this:


The result? Price was never ejected. He escaped punishment altogether, whereas Workman was booted and then suspended.

David Ortiz was so enraged, he started speaking in en dashes.

My job here is to grade the suspensions. I don't care about the Red Sox or Rays, so I hope you'll accept me as an arbitrator. I kind of wish both teams would sink into the sea and let assorted birds take over, to be honest. Here are a collection of truths about the mess:

1. David Price was absolutely throwing at David Ortiz

Perfect shot in the butt, and with two outs. Not that it wasn't stupid, mind you -- it put a runner in scoring position -- but if Price was thinking about pitching Ortiz carefully, why waste six pitches in search of the perfect one, when you can wing one at him for Ortizing his last several homers against him.

2. The Red Sox were right to be upset at the instant warning

Think that Price is definitively throwing at another batter? Get him out of there. Is there ambiguity? The Red Sox should have a chance to respond. Again, this is unwritten gobbledygook -- and all intentional plunkings are childish at best, feral at worst -- but there is a long tradition of letting teams each get a plunking, tit for tat. The Red Sox didn't get that chance, which is breaking with a kind of tradition.

3. David Price probably wasn't throwing at Mike Carp

Again, all we have to work with here are assumptions. The good news is that MLB is working in the same capacity, so we might not be too far off. When I look at the Carp HBP, I see a guy standing off the plate with an open stance, whose first step is right back toward the plate. Price was likely trying to work inside -- because he's expecting Carp to overcompensate for being a little off the plate -- and missed by seven or eight inches.

4. Still, at that point, Price should have been gone

Make a preemptive warning because you don't want bloodshed, umpires? Own it. Don't start divining intent and splitting hairs at that point. The mistake was in the first warning. Even if home plate umpire Dan Bellino was seeing what I'm seeing (a conclusion arrived at after 15 viewings of the GIF, mind you), he shouldn't be in the business of reading Price's mind again. The umpires did that the first time and concluded he was doing it on purpose. They did it the second time and concluded he was misunderstood. Can't have it both ways.

5. Brandon Workman is either unlucky or incompetent

If Workman was trying to hit Evan Longoria, he sure did a lousy job of it. He could have killed him. Considering we're talking about people in pajamas intentionally trying to hurt each other because of imaginary rules that everyone gets to make up as they go along, I wouldn't put it past a pitcher like Workman to throw that pitch on purpose.

I'm going with unlucky, though. It was a one-run game. Longoria was the leadoff hitter. If you deign to read lips, you can see Workman say something like, "Why wouldn't I do it on the first pitch?" about 25 seconds in. Then, at 31 seconds, he looks up at the rain sheepishly. Either he's a wet Daniel Day-Lewis, or he's understandably baffled at his bad luck. Just wait a few days, Brandon.

6. The suspensions make no sense

That is, unless you start with the assumption that Bellino was 100 percent correct in his original judgment all around, which is a dubious starting point that I don't agree with. Really, either suspend both Price and Workman, or don't suspend either. This whole thing was handled strangely, and it was sent up the chain of command to people who either thought it was handled perfectly or who didn't want to make Bellino lose face.

Probably the latter. The important thing is that no one is happy and everyone looks stupid. It's fun to watch from the outside.

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