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"My No. 1 priority that day was being there, being with family and just sharing that last moment with him," Ortiz said. "I said on the airplane to everybody, 'Expect his funeral tomorrow. If you can go ahead and show up, go ahead, that would be great.' If they could make it, great. But I don't think it's fair bringing it up now."
The Red Sox have come under fire after a Boston Herald report stated just four players -- Ortiz, Vicente Padilla, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Clay Buchholz -- attended the funeral.
"Let me tell you, I see it two different ways," Ortiz said. "No. 1, a lot of us were close to Pesky. I was very close to Pesky. The funeral is the last goodbye you give to a friend. There's no way you're a friend with somebody, that person passes away and you're not going to show up to his funeral.
"I was talking to [Kevin Youkilis] this morning, and Youk feels so bad he wasn't able to be at that funeral. Youk was close to Pesky, but he was in another city in another place having to play. It was hard for him to show up. But I'm pretty sure one way or another he contacted somebody to give his condolences. At the same time we have guys here that through the years they were able to be close to Pesky and they have their reasons they didn't show up. That's not my business. We got in at 4 o'clock in the morning -- and I'm not saying this is an excuse -- some of the guys had things to do that day. I had things to do that day and I showed up, but I was close to Pesky."
Sometimes it feels like the Red Sox are 80% soap opera, 20% baseball team.
I don't have any statistics to back me up, but I wholeheartedly believe that there is no other sports organization on the planet whose off-the-field antics are so widely dissected and discussed. This is probably true for non-sports organizations as well. Sometimes it's justified, others it's not. I think this one is important.
If you read any number of blogs, or newspapers, or twitter feeds, you'll know that some players had legitimate, worthwhile reasons to miss Pesky's funeral. That's OK. Life happens. But most didn't. And while some of those guys may not have had any real relationship with Pesky, that's not really the point. This is a guy that gave his entire life to the Red Sox organization. The least the Red Sox could do is take a couple hours out of their day to reciprocate that respect.
That said, we can't vilify these guys over missing a funeral. It wasn't the right thing to do, but it's not the end of the world either. Maybe we can all learn something from this incident. This Red Sox organization, for any number of reasons, isn't some close-knit community. We've gotten to experience Celtic Pride, with all the hall of famers and past greats showing up to games, and I think we expect that to be the norm across the sporting landscape. But it's clearly not.
Some guys just want to show up on gameday, collect their paycheck and get back to their lives. That may not be our 'ideal', but that's the reality. We don't have to be happy about it, but we don't have to attack people over it either.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Sox hit new low | David Ortiz: heel give it a try | WEEI -Valentine: Leaving in Aceves 'wrong decision' | Closing Time: Red Sox misery continues in another loss to Angels | Globe - No respect: Cuts both ways for 2012 Red Sox | The harder they fall | CSNNE - Valentine planning on activating Ortiz Friday | Red Sox fail to hold lead, fall to Angels 14-13 in extra innings