ST. PETERSBURG, Fl. – I'll never forget receiving the call in May 2012. Our Saturday MLB on Fox broadcast had just ended, and I was gathering my belongings near the television production trucks at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Rays manager Joe Maddon was on the line.
He wanted to know if I would be OK with the Rays holding a "Ken Rosenthal/Nerd" themed road trip, bow ties and all. The event would be similar to other themed trips the Rays had staged over the years.
OK with it? Heck, I was flattered. And when the Rays donated $3,000 - $100 for each of 30 bow ties, to be spread over 18 charitable organizations - I was truly moved.
Little did I know, the Rays were playing me like a nerdy fiddle.
They were haters , concealing their contempt for nerds through an act of charity - and apparent pity.
Well, this 5-foot-4½, near-sighted nerd is not about to be bullied ... again.
The Rays will pay, @DavidPrice14 in particular, now that their true colors are revealed.
Price started this, taking to Twitter on Saturday night and calling out TBS' Dirk Hayhurst and Tom Verducci for no apparent reason, saying, "SAVE IT NERDS."
Save it? Just wait 'til the Rays see "Revenge of the Nerds II," with Al Pacino playing yours truly in full "Scarface" mode.
I'm done with the Rays. I'm rooting for them to lose Monday night, get swept by the Red Sox in the Division Series and suffer the indignity of David Ortiz hitting a home run and standing at home plate for 12 days.
Oh, I've defended the Rays for weeks now, decrying how the unbalanced schedule works against them, expressing sympathy for their attendance problems, writing one weepy column after another.
Half of Cleveland was ready to burn me in effigy after my column on the unbalanced schedule, thinking it was a plant by the Yankees. My column on the Rays' attendance, in an example of art imitating life, was read by no one.
I'm not sure it's fair to hold the entire team accountable for the actions of one player. But that one player is Price, the staff ace and an example to all of the young Rays pitchers making minimum salary - in other words, just about all of them.
How great is Price? Just ask him. He listed his career accomplishments on Twitter on Saturday night after giving up seven runs in seven innings to the Red Sox: "3x ALLSTAR ... 2 time player choice ... runner up Cy ... AND CY."
Ah, but that is not the tweet in question, the tweet that revealed the "Ken Rosenthal/Nerd" road trip for what it truly was - a charade to mask the Rays' latent hostility toward media nerds ... people like me!
Dirk Hayhurst...COULDNT hack it...Tom Verducci wasn't even a water boy in high school...but yet they can still bash a player...SAVE IT NERDS
-- David Price (@DAVIDprice14) October 6, 2013 That would be Hayhurst, former major leaguer and best-selling author, and Sports Illustrated's Verducci, who is only the best baseball writer on the planet - and maybe the best ever.
Verducci also is the best-looking of all of us, the best-looking and the best on TV. He's not a nerd, he's our Bradley Cooper. And - get this - he actually played baseball at Penn State. My "playing" experience is more typical of baseball writers - I was the 2-foot-6 kid who coaches ordered not to swing, lest I blow a chance at a walk.
Of course, most of us are nerds. We can't play!
Price, though, should know better - and if not, he had better learn quickly. He likely will be traded to a team in a larger market this offseason. He likely will want to sign long-term with such a team, if not right away, then once he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season.
Why, suddenly, is he trying to get unfollowed?
Price attended Vanderbilt, one of the nation's leading academic institutions - and my wife's alma mater. She can call me a nerd. She would be accurate. Among my many other deficiencies, I'm red-green color blind, and can't leave home without her ordering me to change my clothes.
But we digress.
Price's initial anger on Saturday was directed toward Ortiz, who lingered at the plate, as only he does, to make sure his ball stayed fair down the right-field line for his second home run. Even some in the Red Sox's dugout were wondering when exactly Ortiz would start running. But as I said Sunday on MLB Network, the moment did not even rank among Ortiz's top 10 pimp jobs. Heck, it might not have cracked his top 100.
I'll allow my new FOX Sports colleague, Old Hoss Radbourn, to ruminate on how to best "correct" Ortiz's behavior. Price's questionable behavior, outside of complaining about Ortiz, began as he concluded his post-game group interview by saying, "Great questions, nerds," according to CSN New England's Trenni Kusnierek.
Price went on his Twitter rampage later that evening, then tweeted a predictable apology Sunday.
Last night got out of hand and I apologize for the things that I said on here...if I offended you I am very sorry for doing so... #thatsnotme
-- David Price (@DAVIDprice14) October 6, 2013 Alas, Price did not attend the Rays' optional workout Sunday, leaving Maddon and his teammates to face questions. (Third baseman Evan Longoria declined comment.)
"Next spring training when we have our media training, you're going to see this as a perfect example of what not to do," Maddon said. "That was my first thought when I heard about all this.
"... In the real world, in the bigger picture, it really doesn't mean a whole lot. But I think that on a personal level the fact that he did something wrong, even more importantly that he corrected it, I think is even more important."
Well, I confronted Maddon in the clubhouse afterward and told him of my plan to turn on the Rays. We shared a good laugh. And Maddon, always one for a good yarn, said, "Go with it, brother."
I'm going with it.
The Rays are done as media darlings. The revenge of the nerds begins Monday night.
Stand and deliver, Papi. And then stand at home plate as long as you want.