Okay, I get it – not every ballplayer can be Derek Jeter – or even Dustin Pedroia for that matter. But why does David Ortiz insist on making such a pompous ass of himself………or maybe you have been living on another planet and you haven’t heard …….but this (as he reminds us every day) will be his swan song season…..the last dance of the self proclaimed Greatest Clutch Red Sox Hitter of all time.
Now, before this is interpreted as a sort of rant, let’s take a closer look at the track record of Ortiz. Exhibit one occurred just today when he managed to trump even himself by choreographing his own farewell at Yankee Stadium telling the New York Post that no……he doesn’t want gifts…….he wants a standing ovation from the Yankee fans in attendance that day.
That could be a closing argument that displays this man’s monumental ego……case closed……so let’s move on ……except that it’s not………
Already, there is a buzz about whether or not Ortiz has Hall Of Fame credentials. With 503 home runs, he certainly deserves to be in the conversation. The Red Sox franchise is deeply invested in making sure that the conversion continues. I’m trying to remember the last Red Sox to be installed…..does it go all the way back to Carl Yaztremzski? No matter, you can be sure they will be at the forefront of promoting Ortiz from here on in. Boston and their fans have “juice” and they will use it because it works for them as much as it works for Ortiz.
To put it another way, if Pete Rose had played in New York or Boston instead of Cincinnati, is there any chance that he would not be in the Hall Of Fame today? Can you imagine the media barrage as a home town favorite that would stalk the Commissioner to make it happen……
But let’s get back to “Big Papi” and here’s a question. Known for his incessant umpire baiting and question of every close pitch call, let’s begin a tracking of accolades that he receives from umpires as he makes his last lap. I’ll take it……it’s an easy job……there won’t be any.
Five years ago, the New Yorker captured Ortiz best when they wrote, “As a designated hitter, his sole job, for which he is paid thirteen million dollars a year, is to bat four or five times a game. Naturally, he likes to make the most of his few appearances onstage. Ortiz approaches the plate with a stride that is all hips and shoulders—a Dominican cowboy, grasping the barrel of his bat, instead of the handle, as if to accentuate the spread of his hand. Upon arrival at the batter’s box, he faces the pitcher and begins digging at the back of the paint with his left foot, like a bull before a charge. He doesn’t just step out between pitches; he goes for a stroll. When the pitcher looks ready, he asks for a time-out so that he can tuck the lumber under his armpit, spit into the palm of his right batting glove, and clap down forcefully with the left. “For the grip,” he says, although it looks more like he is swatting a fly, and you’ll see him perform the gesture even when he’s biding his time in the on-deck circle. It’s a mood-setter. He may be slow, but he means business. As he put it to me, “I want to fuck some people up out there when I’m playing.”
But on the other hand, MLB At Bat has no problem posting a article today that reads like a psalm written to the glory of a god. It’s worth mentioning though that MLB has a vested interest in Ortiz at this point in “playing up” his departure with what they hope will be increased television ratings and fan attendance as we saw during Jerer’s final lap. Too cynical…….maybe. But maybe not too.
But so far I just can’t make myself buy into all the hype for a player who had a good, but not “great” career and……..dare I even mention that he was mentioned in 2003 (a la Mike Piazza) as a possible….probable…steroid user. Okay, maybe that’s not fair. But, it is fair to say that David Ortiz is in for a major disappointment if he believes even for one second that fans at Yankee Stadium will stand on his last visit except to visit the concession stand or the restroom.
Like Red Sox fans, Yankee fans are sophisticated and knowledgeable when it comes to baseball. They admire and respect what the man has done with a bat in clutch situations – especially when playing against the Yankees. But they are also smart enough to see through all of the bluster and “look at me” behavior that reduces his accomplishments to a new level of bravado in a sport that generally doesn’t take kindly to that sort of behavior.
You’re not doing yourself any favors here David……Figure it out before you embarrass yourself even more.