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David Ortiz, A.J. Burnett eschew cliche following last night’s game

Jun 9, 2011, 8:25 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett

ANSWER: “We gotta play ‘em one day at a time. I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub. I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.”

QUESTION: “What are ‘things A.J. Burnett and David Ortiz could have chosen to say after last night’s game but didn’t?’ Alex.”

And it’s to our benefit of course, because life is always more interesting when ballplayers decide to go off script.  First, here’s Ortiz, when asked about Joe Girardi’s mildly negative comments following Ortiz’s bat flip following the home run he hit on Tuesday night:

“I don’t care what Joe Girardi says. Take it like a man. I’m done with that …  I got almost 370 bombs in the big leagues and everybody wants to make a big deal because I bat flip one of them. [Expletive] that [expletive], man. If I have to make that video on my [expletive], let’s see how many bat flips I got on this [expletive]. Good night.”

That ire, focused way more on the media for asking the questions about it than Giradi’s comments themselves, is fairly understandable. I mean yeah, when you sign on to play in Boston or New York you have to expect nontroversy-fueling questions from the media, but at some point I’m sure everyone gets sick of it.  The guy just hit another homer a few hours ago and the Red Sox took over first place and these guys all want to talk about something silly from the night before that was mostly their own creation in the first place. Your F-bombs are excused in my book, Big Papi.

A.J. Burnett also eschewed the land of cliche when asked about why the Red Sox seem to kill him now when, back when he pitched for Toronto, he owned them:

“I’m not in Toronto (anymore), so I’m tired of hearing about all that. That’s just retarded. If anything was different I made pitches when I was with Toronto, and I didn’t make pitches tonight. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

I’m guessing someone will jump on that this morning, particularly Burnett’s use of the word ‘retarded,’ which is so increasingly frowned upon an actual organized movement has been formed to wipe it out of the language.  I’m doing my best not to call stuff ‘retarded’ all willy-nilly because the case against its casual use makes sense to me personally, but even I can’t get myself worked up about Burnett’s use of the term here. When frustrated people find themselves in frustrating and stressful situations, you’ll have it.

But no, I don’t imagine that will stop either of these subjects from being tongue-wagging fodder today.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Jun 9, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    See? Baseball players know when they do well (Ortiz) or not (Burnett). Except Beep-beep, he always does well.

    • Old Gator - Jun 9, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      “Except Beep-Beep, he always does well” doesn’t parse. Are you retarded or something?

      • yankeesfanlen - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        None of my comments parse well, I am really a Commodore 64 that needs an upgrade.

      • Old Gator - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:23 AM

        Can Commodore. You need to go out and find yourself a Ouija Scrabble board.

  2. cur68 - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I use the term ‘retarded’ every day at work. It’s the ‘r’ in IUGR = ‘IntraUterine Growth Retarded’. The term merely means ‘delayed as compared to a standard’. So a small, growth delayed new born infant is IUGR. Seems appropriate for AJ to use it, or it could certainly be argued as accurately used without questioning anyone’s intelligence. Continuously bringing up Toronto is a poor line of questioning as compared to more reasonable lines of questioning. However, I fear young AJ is going to get caned for this. Given his pitching performance as well…I’m glad I’m not AJ Burnett.

    • deep64blue - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      I remember the shock of first hearing an American use that word over here in the UK – we just wouldn’t do it, glad to see people are beginning to realise the impact.

      • Old Gator - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:21 AM

        People have been “seeing the impact” for a long, long time. For the most part no one gives a damn, being fed up to here with being told repeatedly that merely descriptive terms they’ve grown up using have suddenly grown virulent and insulting. I’m not quite sure what we gain by changed the sleek “retarded” to “- challenged” or to technical multisyllabic Latin terms for specific types of neurological malformations. These substitute euphemisms will be pronounced with an incipient wink and a nod anyway. The irony of its pronunciation, and the irritation seething behind these enforced terms, will more than make up in deliberate contempt for the supposed, and offhanded, maleficence of the original term. In another generation, someone will decide that “- challenged” is offensive and we’ll have to launch another great social euphemism hunt for a replacement, ad infinitum.

      • spindervish - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:34 AM

        This is true, but not really on topic. People are talking about the use of retarded as a casual insult, not a clinical term. That is to say, if AJ would have said something to the effect of, “That line of questioning is mentally-challenged” (ignoring for a minute the fact that no one would ever say that, as it’s awkward and lacks any real impact, thus defeating the derogatory purpose), I suspect those same insipient crusaders who aspire to rewrite the English diagnostic lexicon would still find that particular usage offensive.

      • cur68 - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        Spinny I’d be more inclined to pay you some attention if you hadn’t just written a sentence that’s 67 words long without the courtesy of a period. Don’t be layin’ no language lesson down without editing your own work 1st.

      • professorperry - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:02 AM

        Old Gator – The easiest comparison is to think about the word “fag.” Teenagers use it constantly as a common and light pejorative, just as they do “retard.” But you’d be hard pressed to argue that the homophobic slur doesn’t have an impact on stereotypes, perceptions, bullying, etc. And indeed, it’s dropping out of common discourse. The “r-word” is next, for much the same reason.

      • spindervish - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Cur, there’s nothing wrong with that sentence. In fact, I quite like it. Now you’re just being a dick.

      • Jonny 5 - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        I think we should keep the word myself. As it can be applied in many ways to many different things accurately. Can’t we just be more careful to not apply it to those that are mentally challenged? Isn’t that a good compromise?

      • paperlions - Jun 9, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        I think the focus on the words if misguided and doomed to fail. As OG pointed out, if you remove retard from the casual lexicon, it will simply be replaced with another word because the concept will remain. In all likelihood, a snark-dripping “mentally-challenged” would replace it.

        Similarly, if fag is removed from its common juvenile use, another word will replace it because the derogatory expression of the concept (lack of manliness) will remain. You won’t stop people from being derogatory, and there is no derogatory term that will not offend some group of people…because people love to be offended by something.

  3. Old Gator - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Cur: no worries, just change the acronym to IUGC (intra-uterine growth challenged). When you stop to think about it, “challenged” is the semiotic substrate and superstructure at once of all political correctness in the USA. Without it, the entire PC discourse implodes like a burned-out red giant.

    • cur68 - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:49 AM

      Christ man If I trotted that out at work they’d call security on me. We got enough issues without the staff going all PC. Must say though, the new kids use the highly inaccurate “restricted” in place of “retarded” in IUGR. We tolerate them because, well, they got enough issues without us old fogies getting all old school on them. Its funny, but by the time they leave us, almost all are using our terms for things. Our influence is subtle but pervasive; like good cake.

  4. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    craig thinks its ok to have an interview laced with f-bombs, why am i not surprised? craig and papi, two classy guys!

    • cur68 - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      and douchebagharry; one big idiot.

  5. professorperry - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Just for the record, posters, I’m the father of a boy with Down syndrome and appreciate Craig’s attempts to avoid using the word casually. I’m not too upset with AJ’s use out of frustration, but I am happy if such a use continues the conversation. People will always decry “political correctness” when it interferes with their casual conversational practice, and yet speech does shape reality and perception, and this word’s time is passed. We use delayed, now, and sure, in 40 years there may be a campaign to end the “d-word.” But so what?

    On the bright side, AJ’s pitching performance was so awesome last night that I’m inclined to forgive him much, so long as he keeps stinking up the place!

    • cur68 - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:08 AM

      Prof; I don’t know that ‘delayed’ is all that accurate either. I was at a public library not long back. Met a young fella with DS. He asked me my name. I told him. He asked me again about a minute later. I told him again. He kept doing this over the course of a half hour or so, till I got fed up with it and said “Kid, I told you like a dozen times, why you buggin’ me?” He grinned and said “I wanted to see how many times you’d tell me the same thing.”

      I was totally pwned by the little devil. Don’t give me ‘delayed’. He was advanced enough to get one over on me. In fact all the kids and older people I’ve known with DS have wonderful senses of humor. I really enjoy their company because of it. They’re just different in some ways and some of those differences can be a good thing.

      • professorperry - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        Right, I meant in the technical sense. Therapists and doctors, when assessing development, have to come up with a percentage of delay to qualify (or not) for particular kinds of treatments. In a previous era, retarded was the word used for that kind of technical analysis, but that moment has passed.

        There are real delays, though, in pretty much every case, even at the highest end of functioning. It’s just that we don’t know what the actual ceilings are, once barriers are removed and support provided.

      • paperlions - Jun 9, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        I would say that “delay” is less accurate than retarded. A delay is temporary, doesn’t convey a reduction/change in final destination/product/result, and doesn’t even convey a slowing down of progress (a retardation of…), a delay it is a temporary cessation. Neither concept incorporates the change in end point (such as arrest or check would)

    • spudchukar - Jun 9, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      Hey, Prof, I thought the use of “Down Syndrome” was now on the forbotten list. Where I come from “Trisomy 21″ is the PC correct term, which indicates the codon where the genetic strain overexpressed or formed 3 rather than the customary 2 strands To my way of thinking choosing the term that includes the name “Down”, after John Down who described his young patients in the asylum as “mongoloid”, an ethnic slur, is certainly more troubling. Little did I know that I would find comrads on a baseball blog in my fight to retain the use of retarded. As a linguist, I have never been able to get my arms around the inherent harm. Retarder (Fr) just means to slow down. The English “Tardy”, and Spanish “Tarde” are a couple of obvious uses.
      . The choice of Retarder must have been an intentional attempt to define the condition with a sense of care. Wouldn’t it be more insightful, to explain the origin and historical coining of the term rather than jumping on the PC bandwagon which always brings more heat than light.

      • professorperry - Jun 9, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        The French use “trisomique,” the English use Down Syndrome, the Americans either Down or Downs Syndrome. There’s no coherent movement to change any of this of which I’m aware, but I’m not an expert in the field (just a dad).

  6. yankeesgameday - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    If more players were allowed to speak their minds without getting hammered for it baseball writers, who are generally smart people, might start asking better questions and the entire nature of the dialogue might possibly be raised to the extent we’d give a crap about what they think.

    • ILoveBaseball - Jun 9, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      Allowed by whom? Writers are the ones who stir this sh&t up.

      • yankeesgameday - Jun 9, 2011 at 6:17 PM

        Right. Allowed to speak their minds without getting hammered for it by the baseball writers and bloggers who need to sensationalize what is said to make a living. Too much sports reporting had become a game of gotcha when it could be a fascinating back and forth.

  7. ryanmallettsbluntwrap - Jun 9, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Joe is just a little bit angry that Big Papi ( who i listened to yankees fans say was done , all winter long ) is playing better then every single player in the Yankees line up , Yankees fans , i’m sure you will disagree , and if so , will you tell me who has had a better year on your squad ? It is very clear that in a 7 game series in the Playoffs the Yankees would be heavy under dogs .

  8. oldpaddy - Jun 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Let’s get retarded in here!

    Howard Sterns penis!!!

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Jun 9, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Louis C.K. has a great bit on the word “faggot”. I didn’t use that word when I was growing up, but I did use “retarded” a lot. And it isn’t saying that someone has down’s syndrome. I would never call someone who has a serious illness “retarded”. I just use the word when someone is being, well, “retarded”. I hope we don’t lose the word…I really do.

    • professorperry - Jun 9, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Chris – As long as the word is associated with people with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities, using the word in a pejorative sense perpetuates stereotypes. It stinks that even if you don’t mean it, it still counts. But that’s the way language works. We don’t get to decide what words mean as individuals, we just get to decide whether or not we use them.

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