Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ortiz Not Dead Yet

A Fan's Devotion to a Fan Favorite...

In a Red Sox season that's been full of it's downsides, no one has gotten more negative attention than David Ortiz. With all of the heat put on the DH, you'd think it was him causing the inefficient defense and shoddy pitching. After beginning 2010 in the same slow manner as 2009, the media declared Papi's career dead right out of the gate. "Unfortunately, two games into the season we had to answer a lot of questions," manager, Terry Francona, said. "Actually it gets old''. The sad part is, what the media spouts the fans devour. Forgetting that slumps and streaks are the norm in the game of baseball, the career of Ortiz was decided to be over. He began to receive boos from the crowd, sensationalist sports radio talked of Ortiz being released, NESN held a poll asking who should be DH. All of this within the first month or so of the season. Now that talk has to look nothing but ridiculous. Considering that in the month of May, Ortiz is hitting .352 (19 for 54) with 7 home runs, and a slugging percentage of .759.

Amalie Benjamin wrote a great piece for, detailing the toll the criticism took on Papi. "It's just not right," he said. "Because you know I work my [rear] off to elevate my game every day. It don’t matter. So if you’re telling me that just because of the fact that I’m not hitting at the time, you’ve got to bury me like that?". It certainly doesn't seem fair that people were jumping ship on Ortiz - so early and so willingly. His teammates came to his defense and tried to stress the obvious - that Papi would come out of it. In early May, Pedroia pointed out, "A couple of years ago I had 60 at-bats and it was me hitting .170 and everybody was ready to kill me, too". The time he was talking about was in early May of 2007. After overcoming that slump, Pedroia went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Of course, for whatever reason, logic doesn't apply to Papi - he was slow to start again so his career must be over.

Indisputably, Big Papi means more to this franchise than almost any other player in the club. He was a member of both championship runs. Not just one - two. It seems easy to forget now but the Red Sox didn't win a World Series for 86 years. Ortiz was an integral part in earning those rings - earning the series MVP in the miraculous ALCS comeback against the Yankees in '04. He's not just invaluable for his clutch home runs either. He's been a leader on this team that is solely dedicated to and satisfied by nothing less than winning. In 2008, when Manny Ramirez was pulling his stunts before being traded by sitting games - it was David Ortiz going to his house and pleading with him to play. It was Ortiz in 2007, calling a players only meeting and rallying the troops to overcome a 3-1 series deficit. He's someone who has given so much to this storied franchise. When the city started to turn on him - I wasn't surprised he was a little off-put by it. 

Ortiz lashed out at the media recently, saying,
“It’s the media that thinks they’ve got everything figured out. You have guys sitting down out there that have never played the game ever before talking about how things are supposed to be. That you are done. That you can’t hit no more ... you’ve never hit before in your life, ever."
How can you blame him? I wouldn't call it being a diva or anything of the like. Yes, Ortiz was struggling and it's the job of the media to talk about these things. However, claiming or implying that the man's career was over a month into the season is absurd. After enduring so many hits over the past couple months, Ortiz has the right to at least express his frustrations. Granted, the kind of unwanted attention that Ortiz has received comes with the job. However, we sometimes forget that these athletes are human beings. Big Papi has always been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, that's whats made him such a great player and a fan favorite. It shouldn't be surprising that he takes the criticism personally.

I never gave up on Ortiz and he's proved me right. As Big Papi said, "You gotta believe in your players. Period".

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

1 comment:

  1. And it's nice that he's come out of his slump earlier than last year. I think last year's slump and the attention he got this year because was a big part of the stats on his game early out of the gate.