David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Going by David Price's Twitter timeline, it took him about 13 hours to reassess calling the TBS broadcast team "nerds'' and suggesting that Newsday alum Tom Verducci "wasn't even a waterboy in high school'' -- making them unqualified to "bash'' players and be critical of his Game 2 performance in the ALDS on Saturday.
So when the frustrated Rays pitcher eventually signed back on to Twitter, Price did what everyone expected him to do. He aired his thoughts on a popular fast-food chain specializing in chicken sandwiches that doesn't do business on Sundays because of religious observance.
"As much as everyone craves [it] on Sunday,'' Price said in the next tweet that appeared on his authenticated account, "I think they should open for an hour or two and just make everything cost $1 more.''
What? You were expecting an apology to the "nerds?'' Well, that did eventually pop up, an hour after the chicken extortion scheme. Better late than never, right?
"Last night got out of hand and I apologize for the things that I said on here,'' Price tweeted. "If I offended you I am very sorry for doing so . . . #thatsnotme.''
Fair enough. In the final analysis, Price's whole Twitter flap was comical. Trust me, broadcasters and sportswriters have been called far worse than nerds or undergrad water boys. By comparison, those labels feel downright chummy. And it's not as if Price made the egregious mistake so many others have on Twitter of using racist or sexist language that can ruin careers and lives.
Price was frustrated. He was angry. And after getting knocked around in a playoff game -- again -- he wasn't about to roll with any punches thrown by the media. But there's a lesson to be learned here.
When your head is having trouble harnessing those combustible emotions and you have the urge to lash out publicly, that's the time to take a deep breath, put down the iPhone, close the laptop and walk away. Go to bed, read a book, knit yourself a sweater. Because as soon as those regrettable words land on Twitter, someone on the planet is freezing it with a screen grab for all eternity.
And then, like Price, you'll be forced to talk about it over and over again. That won't start until Monday, however, because Price didn't show up Sunday for the Rays' optional workout at Tropicana Field. Instead, Joe Maddon was left to give his take on Nerd-Gate, and he didn't come down too hard on Price.
"It's a dangerous world with the ability to put out information so quickly,'' Maddon said. "You really need to process it before you hit the 'send' button. So I think through that [apology] he probably has reconsidered what he had written and obviously felt what he did was not correct.''
That was Maddon's politically correct reaction, but he didn't stop there. Part of what makes Maddon an effective manager -- as well as fun to play for and write about -- is his anti-establishment, freewheeling vibe.
As Maddon explains, he doesn't want his players to strive for perfection because perfection is not only unattainable, it's boring. He also likes to poke the Yankees every so often for their ban on facial hair and dress code for road trips.
Rather than wear a suit and tie, the Rays have travel themes: Ed Hardy T-shirts, Urban Cowboy, "Wigs Gone Wild.'' The "all-white'' outfit is an annual event. It's not about the clothes. It's the individual expression that Maddon believes helps a player reach his potential, and that includes conduct.
"I don't like to censor my guys,'' Maddon said. "Sometimes when we have that freedom, we choose to make bad decisions with it. However, you still get that freedom. Hopefully he's going to learn from that and you're not going to see it again.''
At least David Ortiz was willing to forgive and forget Price's other postgame misstep. The day after Price said Big Papi spent too much time admiring his second homer, Ortiz shrugged it off.
"We talked and straightened things out,'' Ortiz said. "Everything's fine.''
Easy for Big Papi to say. He didn't get called a nerd.