BALTIMORE – The Sox have just enough screws loose to keep everyone on their toes: opponents, fans and umpires alike.
Fire and fight can be as overwrought in baseball as grit and guts. But attitude is worth something to a group of competitors, even if we can’t pinpoint how much. And there’s definitely entertainment value for the onlookers when the attitude is demonstrative.
Chris Sale, ejected once in his career prior to Wednesday’s sweep finisher at Camden Yards, berated home-plate umpire Brian Knight before leaving the game in the seventh inning of a 5-1 win. And Sale, such a cool presence normally, just unloaded. It was quick but vicious, the verbal embodiment of his pitching.
He didn’t like the strike zone. Regrets? Nah.
“Stuff happens, man. I mean I’m not big on apologies or going back on things I’ve done,” Sale said. “It happened, you know? Is what it is. We’ll move forward.”
Joe Kelly, a skinny dude, tells an angry Yankees first baseman to come out to the mound. So Tyler Austin does, and they throw down. (They’re still wearing Joe Kelly Fight Club shirts in the Sox clubhouse, by the way. And Kelly’s got his “Al Horford is Good” T-shirt moment, too.)
David Price, after all he’s been through in his time in Boston, still has it in him to outwardly mock the way he’s portrayed by some in the media and fans. Right or wrong, he certainly isn’t meek.
Carson Smith suggests that he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in part because of overuse, and Alex Cora shuts that down instantly, with enough dismissiveness to effectively belittle Smith and establish Cora’s authority.
Sale’s the guy that threw behind Manny Machado last year and stood stone-faced afterward in front of the media and said he wasn’t going to lose any sleep, while Machado, unnerved, went on an epic rant. Porcello and Price throughout their careers have been far from timid, and that includes in their time in Boston. So the collective attitude isn’t exactly new.
But the difference between this year and last for the Sox seems to be a concentration of their energies in the same place, in the same direction. Add in the fact the Sox are 13-3 on getaway days – maybe they just like the joys of travel? – and they seem keen on having the final say.
Stuff happens, as Sale said. They’re making you wonder what will happen next, for the better.