You know, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this. At the very least, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write about this until we were deeper into the month of October. But sadly, with the 2016 Boston Red Sox coming up lame at the worst imaginable moment, as much as it hurts me as a fan, this is what things have come to.
The legendary career of David Ortiz…Boston’s beloved Big Papi…is over sooner than most would’ve hoped.
New Englanders knew that this moment was coming for a long time now, even before Ortiz announced he would be wrapping it up a year ago. Sure, there may have been times where it looked like he wasn’t getting long in the tooth…this past season was proof of that…but time catches up to even the best athletes whether they want it to or not. It’s all a matter of ‘when,’ and for David Ortiz, that time is, unfortunately, right now.
It’s disappointing that the Red Sox’ postseason run ended as early as it did. I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say that it would’ve been amazing to see the Red Sox send Ortiz off with one more run to a World Series title. But the problem was that the Red Sox were very Jekyll and Hyde-esque all season; they’d be world beaters for one stretch of games, and just as soon as they got hot, they’d go ice cold for another stretch. I could go on about what the Red Sox need to do to improve on what they did right this year, but I’ll leave that to the pro pundits.
For now, let’s focus on Ortiz. And, really, what can be said about this man that already hasn’t been said?
What David Ortiz has done for both the Red Sox and the city of Boston is nothing short of legendary. Among other factors, Ortiz is one of the biggest catalysts for what many would consider a decade-plus modern-day Red Sox Renaissance. A perfect run of trips to the World Series (with Ortiz earning MVP honors in 2013 to boot), five American League Championship Series appearances, and three American League East titles are just outliers for what Ortiz has given the Red Sox since 2003.
He helped end what many considered to be a franchise curse, alleviating the 86-year notion that October always brought disappointment to the streets of Boston, no matter what came the summer before. He lifted the weight of many previous Red Sox players who never tasted the glory of a World Series title, including the greatest BoSox player of all time, Ted Williams. He helped give the Red Sox, and their fans, all they ever wanted and so much more.
What’s most important is that whenever he was available, and injuries weren’t bringing him down, he gave the Red Sox an x-factor, an ace in the hole to pull them out of a tight spot if the need was there. There was a sense, whenever Big Papi came to the batter’s box, that there was still a chance at victory, and he was willing to swing for the fences. It didn’t always work out, but the presence of someone as clutch as Ortiz in any lineup is nothing to scoff at.
Believe it or not, my favorite moment from Ortiz didn’t necessarily come during one of the games. Rather, it came before a game. I refer to, of course, his pre-game speech in 2013. A few days after the Boston Marathon bombings, and one after a day-long manhunt for one of the bombers, Ortiz took a microphone and proclaimed that Boston was “our [Bleep]ing city, and nobody gonna dictate our freedom,” all while thanking the late Thomas Menino and Boston Police for their work. It goes to show that Ortiz’ love for Boston didn’t just stop at the Red Sox, but to the entire city itself. He cared for the city, and its people; just as the fans came to love him, Ortiz came to love the fans.
Even the FCC, of all organizations, was okay with Ortiz cursing like that on live television. That should tell you something.
True, Ortiz’s temper may not have put him in the best light at times. Camden Yards’ grounds crew can attest to that after one of their dugout phones became a target of his rage. Otherwise, Ortiz has been nothing short of classy with the Red Sox, and that classiness has been the one constant the Sox have had for so long.
Again, I truly wish that I could’ve written this later in the month, and maybe in a more positive light if the Red Sox won the World Series. But sadly, it is what it is. David Ortiz took his last curtain call at Fenway Park Monday evening, and ended what will go down in Red Sox history as one of the greatest careers by any player to don the uniform.
I end this piece off with a message to the man himself. Mr. Ortiz…Big Papi…I don’t know if you’ll ever find this message among the many you have received from fans, friends and family by this point. But regardless, I want to say what many have already said. Thank you for all the fun times, the walkoff home runs, and the clutch moments. Thank you for revolutionizing the culture of Red Sox Nation, and giving fans a reason to believe against the odds. Thank you for being the one the Red Sox, and the city of Boston, needed most of all when times looked dark. For all that you’ve done for this team, this city, and so much more…
‘Til we meet again,