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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Rays, Big Babi go at each other one more time

— You can throw away the records when the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox get together.

And they'd be happy to give the heave to 51-54 and 48-57.

But you'd never know the Rays are in fourth place and the Sox are last when David Ortiz is at the plate and a Ray is pitching.

That's entertainment!

Big Papi, booed all weekend, beat baby-faced Chris Archer in the third inning Sunday afternoon, crushing a fat 3-2 Archer change-up for a three-run home run, all the reeling Sox needed to halt the born-again Rays' winning streak at nine with a 3-2 victory.

But it was the familiar Ortiz after-party that raised eyebrows.

Big Babi flipped his bat on his follow-through, stared down Archer, then stutter-stepped around each base before touching home, a trot that took 29.3 seconds on our stopwatches.

He knows he's in last place, right?

And so this petty Rays-Sox rivalry rolls on.

After the game, Archer, 25, invoked the words of teammate David Price, who in late May said Ortiz acted “bigger than the game,” this after Price hit Ortiz with a pitch, payback for Papi's stop-and-gawk homer off Price in October in Game 2 of the ALDS.

“I think it was a perfect example of what Price said,” Archer said. “All my interactions with (Ortiz) off the field have been good, but when it comes to him on the field, I don't know what makes him feel he can showboat the way he does and then nobody retaliate, nobody look at him a funny way or nobody pitch him inside. ... I don't know why he feels like that, but obviously he feels the way David (Price) said he does. He feels like he's bigger than the game. He feels like the show is all about him,”

Strong stuff from young Arch, duly noted by Ortiz.

“Whatever, dude,” Ortiz said. “There's always going to be comments out there. He's not the right guy to be saying that, I think. He's got two days in the league, and to be (whining) and complaining about stuff like that … ”

Papi, don't preach.

In fact, everybody needs to quit their crying.

Still: Don't you wish they were playing again tonight?

A few things need to be said here, you know, besides, “Keep it up, guys!”

Note to Price, Archer: If you don't want Ortiz showboating, don't give up home runs.

True, Ortiz always gets a pass. Maybe it goes with being one of the clutch hitters in postseason history, or that he's so engaging (I fall under his spell myself) or that he is a god in Boston, which endured a Ruthian curse for 86 years before Ortiz helped the Sox win three world titles in 10 seasons. Can you name another guy whose name once appeared on a leaked list of PED positive tests, but who walks like a king? And when Big Babi declared that it was a “war” (it isn't) after Price hit him in May, he looked foolish.

I wasn't crazy about Price's bellyaching after he was knocked around by Ortiz and the Sox in ALDS Game 2. Price apologized a few days later, apparently even reaching out to Ortiz, then waited seven months to: drill him. Look, you can say nothing after Game 2 in October, then hit Ortiz. Or you can call Ortiz out after Game 2, then hit him. But you don't complain, then apologize, then still hit him.

I'm willing to cut Archer slack, as he has been in the league only two days, though he did complain about no one retaliating against Ortiz after not doing it himself when Ortiz returned to the plate in the fifth inning. But Archer backed up his guy Price, and that will play very well in the Rays clubhouse.

Don't you love it?

For a moment, we forgot reigning world champ Boston is lousy and the Rays, despite a torrid July, will need to play fiendishly well from here out to be a postseason possibility. For a moment, the only game that matters is Aug. 29, when Ortiz and the Sox return to the Trop.

We'll probably throw away the records then, too.

It's the season for it.

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