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David Ortiz: Torii Hunter didn’t want to play for Red Sox because of racist taunts 05.17.17 at 4:18 pm ET
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David Ortiz says he doesn't think Boston fans are racist.  (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz says he doesn’t think Boston fans are racist. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Torii Hunter says he was heckled with racial taunts when he played at Fenway Park. The abuse was so bad, it dissuaded him from signing with the Red Sox, according to David Ortiz.

In an interview Wednesday on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Ortiz said he tried to recruit Hunter when the former outfielder was a free agent one year.

“I tried to have him play with me in Boston one year when he was a free agent,” Ortiz said, via the New York Daily News. “And [the slurs he experiences] bothered him so much that was reason enough for him not to come and play.”

On May 2, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones says the N-word was directed at him a “handful” of times at Fenway. Over the last two weeks, several black baseball players, including CC Sabathia, have relayed similar stories. The Red Sox have repeatedly condemned the reported behavior, with team president Sam Kennedy touting the club’s zero tolerance policy.

When asked Wednesday on “First Take” about his experiences in Boston, Ortiz said he doesn’t think a “couple of knuckleheads” should speak for the whole fan base –– echoing Pedro Martinez’s comments last week.

“In today’s day, I don’t think that’s what Boston represents,” Ortiz said. “I played in Boston for so long. I have never faced any racial situations over there. People are super nice over there. You sometimes get a couple of knuckleheads out there that get drink, get tipsy and then come out with that kind of stupidity. But I would tell athletes, ‘Don’t focus on that.’ That’s not what Boston is.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Fenway Park, torii hunter
Red Sox ushers will wear ‘kind’ and ‘respectful’ pins for remainder of season 05.15.17 at 11:22 am ET
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The Red Sox say they're committed to fostering a safe environment at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox say they’re committed to fostering a safe environment at Fenway Park. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Red Sox ushers are going to look a little different for the rest of the season.

This past home stand against the Rays, Fenway Park staff members wore “kind” and “respectful” pins. According to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, they’ll be sporting them for all future home games as well.

The decision to have Red Sox security personnel wear the pins comes on the heels of two reported racial incidents at the ballpark. Two weeks ago, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said the N-word was directed at him a “handful” of times. One night later, the Red Sox banned a fan for life for directing a racial epithet towards another person in the stands.

In an interview last week on WEEI’s “Two Outs” podcast, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said the team is committed to enforcing its zero tolerance policy against hateful language at Fenway Park.

“I don’t worry about it being a slippery slope. It’s the club’s right. We plan on doing it,” he said. “We have an obligation and a responsibility to make sure people who come to Fenway Park, regardless of your religion, your race, your sexual orientation, you feel comfortable at Fenway. That is our job. We need to be held accountable for that. That’s something that’s really important to John Henry, Tom Werner and to me and to the members of our front office. We want our fans to let us know if they feel uncomfortable. Nobody should feel intimidated by coming to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This is a place to come and relax and enjoy and feel comfortable. That’s what I worry about.”

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park,
David Ortiz takes jab at Theo Epstein in new memoir 05.12.17 at 10:10 am ET
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David Ortiz still seems perturbed about the Red Sox not giving him multiple long-term contracts.   (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

David Ortiz still seems perturbed about the Red Sox not giving him multiple long-term contracts. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

In his soon-to-be released memoir with WEEI’s Michael Holley, David Ortiz saves his sharpest criticism for former manager Bobby Valentine. But he also takes a jab at ex-Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, the person who brought him to Boston.

Though the Boston Globe doesn’t run full excerpts in its review of “Papi,” the newspaper picks out several key quotes. In one of them, Ortiz refers to Epstein as that “numbers-crunching Red Sox executive” who stuck him with “some of the worst long-term contracts in baseball.”

The anecdote about Ortiz feeling underpaid is nothing new. He often complained about his contract during his 14 seasons in Boston, with tension hitting a fever pitch in 2010 when he publicly campaigned for a long-term deal. The Red Sox inked Ortiz to a four-year, $52 million contract with a club option for a fifth year in 2006, when he set the franchise’s single-season home run record. Epstein never signed Ortiz to a new deal before he left town at the conclusion of the 2011 campaign.

Though Ortiz was underpaid in comparison to star position players, he was consistently the highest-paid DH in the game. He signed three contracts with the Red Sox after Epstein had left town, including a one-year deal with two club options prior to the 2015 season. Ortiz retired with one year remaining on the deal.

 

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Theo Epstein,
Pedro Martinez says fan who reportedly yelled racial slur at Adam Jones ‘isn’t a true Bostonian’ 05.08.17 at 3:52 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez says he's always felt comfortable at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Pedro Martinez says he’s always felt comfortable at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

In the aftermath of the Adam Jones incident last week, several black baseball players talked about their experiences at Fenway Park. One of the most beloved Red Sox players of all-time, Pedro Martinez, weighed in during a recent interview with Sports Illustrated.

When asked about Jones’ allegation that fans yelled the N-word at him a “handful” of times, Martinez said he was surprised to hear the news.

“Fenway [is] a place where I feel more comfortable than any other place, more than my own house,” he said. “Honestly, I could take a nap in centerfield and feel that I am right at home, so it shocks me a great deal that Adam Jones was called something like that at my field. I don’t think that is someone who belongs at Fenway, at my field. He is not a true Bostonian. The true Bostonians support their people, regardless of who they are, and they are great people and I’m proud of my Bostonians. I’m extremely shocked that someone used Fenway Park to offend the feelings of all of us, including Adam Jones.”

Other black players have different perceptions of Fenway. Yankees hurler CC Sabathia, for example, said it’s the only place he’s ever been called the N-word in his professional career. Last week, two fans told WEEI.com they saw Jones get taunted with a racial slur at a game in 2013.

The Red Sox also banned a fan for life last week after he directed a racial slur towards another person in the stands.

Read More: Adam Jones, Boston Red Sox, pedro martinez,
Red Sox explain how they’re enforcing lifetime ban against fan who used racial slur at 1:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox banned a fan for life from Fenway Park last week. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox banned a fan for life from Fenway Park last week. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Following the Adam Jones incident last week, the Red Sox released a statement touting the team’s zero tolerance policy towards offensive language at Fenway Park. The strict edict was put into practice Wednesday, when club president Sam Kennedy announced a fan had received a lifetime ban for directing a racial slur towards another person in attendance.

In a phone conversation with WEEI.com Monday, Red Sox spokeswoman Zineb Curran answered some of the lingering questions from last week’s events, including how the team plans to enforce the lifetime ban against the fan in question.

“We informed this person verbally and in writing, and we’ve also flagged their credit card from being able to purchase tickets from the organization moving forward,” she said. “Key security personnel are aware of who the individual is. What we’re not doing is posting this person’s picture and name at every gate. That’s not something we’re doing. We know this isn’t a perfect or infallible system. And we recognize that enforcing it will be a difficult thing to do. But if the person is willing to take a risk and come back to the ballpark, there are actions that can be taken if they’re caught.”

Those actions could include calling the police and charging the fan with trespassing.

Freelance writer Calvin Hennick, who reported the fan to security, told the Boston Globe he was at the game with his six-year-old son and father-in-law, both of whom are black. According to Hennick, a “middle-aged white man” leaned over to him and used a racial slur to describe the rendition of the national anthem, which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

When describing the incident to reporters, Kennedy said the team reserves the right to ban any fan “engaging in intolerant behavior,” including homophobic and sexist remarks. While the Red Sox intend to enforce the hardline policy, Curran said the team will also use discretion when appropriate.

“[Zero tolerance] applies to all violations of our code of conduct,” she explained. “That includes forms of hate speech. It’s not just a race issue, and it does apply to a variety of other violations as well. It’s not just the use of certain words. But we’ll evaluate those incidents on a case-by-case basis and determine in each case what the best course of action may be.”

Author’s Note: This post was updated to include information about what actions the Red Sox could take against the banned fan if he returns to Fenway Park. 

Read More: Adam Jones, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park,
Adam Jones was taunted with racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013, two fans say 05.04.17 at 10:33 am ET
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Two fans say Adam Jones was taunted with a racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Two fans say Adam Jones was taunted with a racial slur at Fenway Park in 2013. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was heckled with a racial slur at Fenway Park during a game in 2013, according to two fans who were in attendance.

After the Red Sox blew a ninth inning lead against the Orioles on April 10, 2013, Pat Bowlby says he moved down to the front row of the bleachers near the bullpen for the bottom of the frame. While there, he says he encountered an unruly fan, who shouted the N-word at Jones.

“[Joel] Hanrahan blew the save and then in the bottom of the 9th inning fans were pretty unruly –– because it’s Fenway and the save was just blown,” Bowlby told WEEI.com via phone. “And Jones was in center field and a lot of the crowd was dispersed, so basically I was in the front row right near the bullpen. That guy just became really unruly and was directing a lot of hate towards Adam Jones. At first, it just started like, ‘Oh, you suck.’ Then I heard him shout the N-word at him and he was just straight up flipping him off and his buddies were just laughing.”

Bowlby’s friend, Jon Travers, told WEEI.com he told the heckler to “knock it off,” but was ignored. Though Travers says others in the section appeared surprised to hear the racial epithet, nobody else approached the man. He left before the inning was over.

“I was kind of shocked security didn’t intervene, because I’ve seen security intervene for dumber things than this,” Bowlby says.

Following the game that night, Bowlby sent out a string of tweets to Jones, apologizing for the fan’s alleged behavior.

Bowlby also later tweeted out a photo of the person he identified as the one making racial slurs.

Jones responded to Bowlby, saying the taunts “never bother him.”

In addition to the time-stamped tweets, Bowlby provided WEEI.com with a photograph to prove he was at the game in question.

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory over the Red Sox Monday, Jones told USA Today a handful of racial epithets and bag of peanuts were hurled in his direction. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome,” he said.

The Red Sox released a statement Tuesday condemning the alleged actions. Team president Sam Kennedy confirmed to WEEI a higher-than-usual 34 people were ejected from the contest, including the peanut thrower. He would not say whether any individuals who called Jones the N-word were removed from the stadium.

Four fans who were seated in the bleachers during Monday’s game told WEEI.com they didn’t hear the N-word shouted in Jones’ direction. The Orioles centerfielder was seen gesturing towards fans in the outfield bleachers at various points in the eighth and ninth innings.

On Wednesday, Kennedy said the Red Sox banned a fan for life after he had directed a racial slur towards another person in the stands prior to Tuesday’s contest. Calvin Hennick, who reported the alleged incident to security, said to the Boston Globe he was at the game with his six-year-old son and father-in-law, both of whom are black. According to Hennick, a “middle-aged white man” leaned over to him and used a racial slur to describe the rendition of the national anthem, which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

“It’s disheartening, saddening, maddening,’’ Kennedy said of the reported incident. “That said, we have to recognize that this exists in our culture, it exists in Boston, and it exists in other cities around the world. It’s not an indictment on Boston and this marketplace, it’s an indictment on the ignorant people and intolerant people who utter these words and say these things and they need to be held accountable.’’

Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park
Red Sox look desperate and weak for targeting Manny Machado 05.03.17 at 5:10 pm ET
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Manny Machado has hit two home runs in two games against the Red Sox. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

Manny Machado has hit two home runs in two games against the Red Sox. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox keep throwing at Manny Machado for no good reason. He has every reason to be enraged.

The Orioles third baseman went on a postgame tirade Tuesday, after Chris Sale whizzed a fastball behind his back in the first inning of the contest. The pitch was an apparent retaliation for Baltimore right-hander Dylan Bundy hitting Mookie Betts on the thigh the previous night.

“[Expletive] [expletive] [expletive]. Coward stuff,” he said. “I mean, that’s stuff that you don’t [expletive] do. But I mean, I’m not on that side. I’m not in that organization. They’re still thinking about that same slide that I did. There was no intention on hurting anybody and I’m still paying, I’m still trying to get hit at. Get thrown at on my [expletive] head. They’re [expletive] throwing everywhere. [Expletive] [expletive].”

The rant only got more pointed from there.

“I’ve lost my respect for that organization, that coaching staff and everyone over there,” he said.

Since Buck Showalter was named manager of the Orioles in 2010, they’ve gone 71-56 against the Red Sox. He’s enjoyed needling his northern neighbors, too, such as when he appeared to jab at the team for its flu epidemic earlier this season.

Tensions between the two clubs boiled onto the field April 21, when Machado spiked Pedroia sliding into second base. Though the contact forced Pedroia to miss six days with a knee injury, he didn’t appear to be upset at Machado, who had contacted him after the incident.

During an interminable 162-game regular season, baseball teams often look for sparks that can carry them through stretches of the schedule. The Red Sox, who are floundering out of the gate with a 14-12 record, seem to have targeted Machado.

Except, since Pedroia doesn’t appear to feel any animus towards him, their efforts are coming across as desperate.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, manny machado,
CC Sabathia says Fenway Park is the only place he’s been called the N-word in his career 05.02.17 at 4:26 pm ET
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Yankees hurler CC Sabathia says he’s been taunted with racial slurs at Fenway Park.

When asked Tuesday about Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who says fans in attendance called him the N-word a “handful” of times Monday, Sabathia explained Boston’s unsavory reputation among African-American players.

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory over the Red Sox Monday, Jones spoke with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale about his experience at the ballpark.

“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,” he said. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.”

The Red Sox issued a statement Tuesday, saying they were “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.” In an interview with WEEI’s OM&F, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said the team was taking Jones at his word.

“The truth is, we don’t who said what,” he explained. “It’s hard to identify individuals when you have a sports venue with thousands and thousands of people but again we feel accountable and feel terrible that something like this could happen at Fenway. It’s not what we’re about.”

Kennedy confirmed a higher-than-usual 34 fans were ejected from the ballpark Tuesday, but wouldn’t say whether anybody was removed after taunting Jones. Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker issued separate statements condemning the alleged behavior.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.C. Sabathia, Fenway Park, New York Yankees
No reason to doubt Adam Jones about hearing racist taunts at Fenway Park at 3:20 pm ET
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Adam Jones said he heard the N-word a "handful of times" at Fenway Park Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

Adam Jones (left) said he heard the N-word a “handful of times” at Fenway Park Monday. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

The Fenway Park Race Truthers who say Adam Jones lied about hearing racist taunts must take off their tinfoil hats and answer one simple question:  Why would he make it up?

Following the Orioles’ 5-2 victory Monday over the Red Sox, in which the hometown nine committed three errors and a base running blunder in a despicable eighth inning, Jones told USA Today a handful of racial epithets and bag of peanuts were hurled in his direction. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome,” he said.

Jones’ comments elicited responses from Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Baker, who both condemned the reported behavior in separate remarks Tuesday. The Red Sox released a statement of their own, saying the team is “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.”

Like almost every other major metropolitan area in the country, Boston is saddled with a racist past. But unlike other cities that have been able to shed that label, it continues to be pilloried as such. In turn, some Bostonians have taken a defensive posture when it comes to race-related topics, interpreting any reported instances of racism in their city as a personal attack.

That likely explains why some folks are intent on harboring doubt around Jones’ claims. The MMQB’s Albert Breer claims he’s never heard anybody yell a slur at Fenway Park, which puts him at odds with black players who say they’ve had different experiences. Earlier this year, David Price said he was sometimes subjected to racial barbs while he was warming up in the bullpen prior to games. While he was playing, former outfielder Torii Hunter said he “regularly heard” racist taunts at Fenway and Jackie Bradley Jr. also said recently he’s been exposed to them as well.

And on Tuesday, Yankees hurler CC Sabathia said Boston is the only place he’s been called the N-word in his career. In this game of telephone, the black players who have played at Fenway seem more believable than the white sportswriter.

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Read More: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park
Pedro Martinez on OM&F: David Ortiz should’ve played for one more season 04.28.17 at 11:28 am ET
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Pedro Martinez says he thinks David Ortiz should've played for one more season. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Pedro Martinez says he thinks David Ortiz should’ve played for one more season. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Count Pedro Martinez among those who wants David Ortiz to come back.

In an interview Friday on OM&F, the first ballot Hall of Famer said he thinks Ortiz should’ve kept playing for one more season.

“I’ve been trying so hard to get David back and help out these kids,” he said. “I thought they needed one more year to kind of realize what they have to do. But you can’t blame David, either. You go through the struggles of baseball, the day-to-day–– the stuff that you have to do –– it gets to a point where you just get tired. You just get tired of the same routine, and all of that.”

Following the Red Sox’s 3-0 loss to the Yankees Thursday, shortstop Xander Bogaerts acknowledged Ortiz’s presence is missed. The Red Sox are 13th in the American League in runs scored.

Martinez explained how Ortiz’s leadership would’ve been valuable to the young players on the club this season.

“Those guys are at a level where they’re good, they’re going to perform, but they need to realize why they perform,” he said. “That’s what David was probably going to be able to relay in one more year. One more year of experience around those kids would be exactly leaving those kids graduated from college. They needed one more year to graduate.”

Perhaps the biggest positive for the Red Sox in the first month of the season has been the electric performance of Chris Sale, who’s doing his best Martinez impression every time he takes the mound. It’s quite a difference from David Price’s first month in Boston last season, in which he posted a 5.76 ERA.

Martinez said the biggest difference between the two hurlers is attitude.

“Chris Sale is somewhat a throwback kind of player, someone that’s not going to be watching what the papers say,” Martinez explained. “He’s not going to pay attention to what the fans might say if he doesn’t perform. I mean, this is a guy who’s very unusual. He’s not intimidated by anything, this is a guy that’s out there to show you and say to you, ‘This is how I am. This is who I am. This is what I’m here to get.” And it’s all around the pitcher’s mound. That’s what his business is.”

The other big story surrounding the Red Sox this week was Dustin Pedroia’s criticism of teammate Matt Barnes for throwing at Manny Machado’s head Sunday. When asked his feelings on the matter, Martinez said he doesn’t fault Barnes for the way he handled the retaliation.

“As much as I love Machado, who’s one of my boys –– I love him dearly –– I would’ve [gone] and hit him square in the ribs or maybe in the butt cheek. I honestly think I have to protect my players,” Martinez said.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, pedro martinez,
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