For more than a decade, whenever hope seemed lost or we needed some kind of magic at the zero hour, David Ortiz has been the go-to guy with a capital G. I’ve honestly lost count of the many times he’s pulled our asses from the fire, but his propensity for doing it on the big stage is unrivaled in the franchise’s history. Down three games to none in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees? Fine, here’s some walk-off magic. Detroit Tigers tryna go up 2 games to none on our asses in the 2013 ALCS? Not on my watch. Hell, if Grady Little didn’t screw up game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Ortiz’s mammoth home run off David Wells would still be remembered as the final nail in New York’s coffin.
Perhaps more significant is what he’s done off the field, becoming a local guardian of all things right and proper with the world, a point accentuated by his now-classic post-Marathon bombing oration at Fenway Park, where he dropped the world’s most family-friendly F-bomb.
Seriously, is there ever a reason to stop watching it? Is there any shitty, wind chill on your neck, ice water in your boots day that can’t be somewhat saved by teleporting yourself back to the moment that Big Papi threw us all on his back and set this city’s collective nerves at ease?
The answer is no. And the enormity of what David Ortiz has done for this city, coupled with the big man’s big pride, puts me in the minority of folks who believe that despite what he says, The Large Father isn’t 100 percent sold on this whole retirement idea.
Dig if you will, for a moment, the most typical reasons sports figures retire, and how none of them seem to apply to Ortiz:
“I just can’t play the game like I used to.” As of this morning, Ortiz leads the team with 11 home runs, 37 RBIs, a .684 slugging percentage and a 1.092 OPS and. If it wasn’t for the world’s most criminally unfair bounce, The Old Man would have become just the 21st Red Sox player to hit for the cycle. So, no.
“I want to spend more time with my kids.” On any given day at Fenway, I see D’Angelo Ortiz milling around the place more than most players. He’s almost always on field for batting practice, seems to have an all-access pass to the clubhouse and co-hosts that kids’ show on NESN. For Ortiz, it’s been “bring your kids to work day” for the better chunk of his career in Boston. Hell, I’d argue that in retirement, he might see his kids less.
“I’ve achieved everything I can in a baseball uniform.” In many ways, this is true. Ortiz was a catalyst in breaking the curse and winning the 2004 World Series. He’s shattered record after record and has his legend sits in the same rarefied air as Yaz and Ted Williams. But, as mentioned earlier, the man has an ego. And when you talk about the single biggest sports figure in Boston, the argument typically comes down to Ortiz and Tom Brady. The difference? Brady has four rings, Ortiz has three. Maybe not a big deal to laypersons like us. But to Ortiz, I have a feeling it means a lot. He wants that fourth ring.
“I want to go out on top.” His team spent the last two years in the cellar. This year’s edition shows more promise, but as presently constructed (ie, with question marks across the rotation), they could very well find themselves out in the first round of any playoff series. One more year brings one more chance at that ring.
“I’ve earned enough money.” To a guy like me, who gets excited when that dollar bill I had in my wallet turns out to be a fiver, it’s hard to imagine millionaire athletes wanting for anything once they’re set for life six times over. But I have a feeling that once you’ve got one helicopter, you may start wishing you had another just for the weekends.
From another perspective, there’s nothing wrong with just flat-out admitting that we need him. That his propensity for the dramatic and uncanny ability to come through in the clutch make us a better team. Just as if you’re betting on the next Red Sox game, you only bet at the most reputable betting sites such as these, if you’re building a better Red Sox team, you have to start with David Ortiz.
The way my uneducated mind sees it, Ortiz is looking for a reason to put off retirement for one more year. So here’s the suggestion, Red Sox Ownership: Offer Ortiz the house, the car, the boat and the moon. Fill a dozen armored cars with cash and circle his swanky Weston estate. Send a line of 514 BU sorority girls, each carrying a briefcase full of money, to his clubhouse locker.
Whether or not the man will take it is irrelevant. The best player on the team, the biggest name in franchise history, the guy without whom at least two of our last three World Series titles don’t happen and the veritable face of the Boston Red Sox is threatening to call it quits. You need to show that you at least made an unprecedented effort to change his mind.