David Ortiz

One More Year of David Ortiz

There is only one left, really, when you think about it. Maybe two, if you count John Henry, who you probably should count. So two left then. Just two. John Henry and David Ortiz. They are the only two people left who have brought about the greatest decade of Red Sox baseball ever, and no I don’t give a crap about the 1910s when games were played with play dough baseballs and everyone threw the ball underhanded while high on snuff. This was real baseball and the Red Sox were the best, or one of the best, just about every season between 2003 and 2013. They won 90 games eight times during that span and one of the seasons they didn’t they won 89. They made the playoffs seven times and won three World Series, including authoring the greatest comeback in sports history.

Most of the guys who were integral to those teams are gone now. Terry Francona was shamefully run out of town. Manny Ramirez was shipped to LA and may still be playing somewhere in the Cubs minor league system. Curt Schilling is filling our heads with pabulum from his seat as color commentator on national baseball broadcasts. Pedro is where he should be, exalted, cast in bronze in the Hall of Fame. Jason Varitek stares down at us from somewhere in the front office. Theo Epstein has a new apple of his eye in Chicago, and many of his front office lieutenants are there as well. This week one more left, as it was announced that CEO and Team President Larry Lucchino will no longer be a part of the Red Sox after this season. Lucchino was and is an easy guy to dislike. Just ask Theo Epstein, if he’s not too busy ducking past you in a gorilla suit. But Lucchino presided over the greatest run of Red Sox baseball ever and therefore it doesn’t matter what I think of him or what you think of him. He deserves infinite credit, like Cesar Crespo, like Earl Snyder, like Frank Castillo and Joe Nelson. Whether they did anything to help or not, they were there, and being there is enough.

In his 13 seasons in Boston, Ortiz has finished second, third, and fourth (two times) in the MVP race, and he’s almost single-handedly won three playoff series for the Red Sox, two of which were World Series.

David Ortiz has been there too. But unlike those guys, he’s done more than be there. During his time with the Red Sox he’s hit .287/.384/.562 with 429 home runs. In his 13 seasons in Boston he’s finished second, third, and fourth (two times) in the MVP race, and he’s almost single-handedly won three playoff series for the Red Sox, two of which were World Series. He was also a part of another World Series win, though he didn’t do that one on his own. I bring all this up because Ortiz has 419 plate appearances, six short of the number he needs to vest his $10 million option for next season. The dollars he’ll make will rise as his PAs rise, but that isn’t germane to us here. Ortiz’s salary isn’t stopping the Red Sox from improving on the field. As long as he’s hitting, give him $20 million a season. As long as he’s hitting, whatever. Ortiz will be a part of the 2016 Red Sox in six more plate appearances is all that matters. David Ortiz has been there and now David Ortiz will be there, at least once more.

Two months ago this news would have been yet another dog dropping on the fire that is the 2015 season. Yay. Ten million more dollars down a hole on a 40-year-old DH. Wake me in 2017, please.

But this is David Ortiz, and how quickly we forget that, myself most definitely included. From June 7 through Wednesday’s game, Ortiz is hitting .269/.373/.573. He has 15 homers in those 48 games. That’s a 51 homer pace over 162 games. Dude can still crush. Don’t fret for the $10 million, don’t fret if it becomes $16 million. Don’t fret for the roster spot. Millar, Mueller, Varitek, Youk, Beckett, Papelbon, Lester, Lackey, Gomes, and Victorino all come and go, but Ortiz remains.

That’s the good news. The better news is did you see that home run he hit Wednesday off of Yankees prospect extraordinaire Luis Severino? Oh man! Here. Watch.

Crazy. I was at a game in Baltimore back in 2013 when birds sang beautiful tunes, the sky was pregnant with rainbows, and everywhere you looked north of New York was smiling unicorns. A friend had great tickets a few rows up by first base. I don’t usually sit that close, but this one time I did, all of four rows from the field or so. I’ll always remember it because that day Ortiz hit one onto Eutaw Street that went over my head like a jetliner. As it flew past it pulled people up out of their seats and jerked their arms into the air. Some of us, maybe me included, yelled. Not any words, just indiscriminate yelling, for the joy of making noise, because we were alive and David Ortiz had commanded us to do so. That was the power and the joy of David Ortiz.

Is. Is the power and the joy of David Ortiz. Because that power and joy are not yet finished. Larry Lucchino may headed out the door, and the rest of the team may be so young that they experienced the 2004 Series the same way I did, by watching it on TV, but David Ortiz isn’t going anywhere right now, and that’s comfortable.

I used to have nightmares that my parents sold the house I grew up in. I’d wake up feeling like I had no base, nothing grounding me, nothing left that made me me. David Ortiz is the Red Sox equivalent of my parent’s house. He is the connection to success, even if we don’t see it in front of us. He is a reason to go to the ballpark, even when the rest of the team isn’t cooperating. And even if you’re not there, it’s reassuring to know that he is, standing there in the on-deck circle, swirling his bat in preparation for making another of one of the best pitchers in the world look foolish.

David Ortiz will be back. That’s the good news.

Photo by Winslow Towson/USA Today Sports Images


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1 comment on “One More Year of David Ortiz”

Very well written. The point that a lot of people are missing is that David Ortiz is still this club’s best hitter. People keep yammering about Hanley and Sandoval being DHs. The fact is neither of them are hitting enough to be worthy of being a full-time DH. Both have sub .310 OBPs. Thanks to his HR total, Hanley’s OPS+ is a whopping 102. Sandoval is currently at 88.

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