On Wednesday night, David Ortiz hit his 30th home run of his final season. This put him in an exclusive, singular club. Big Papi is the only player to crush 30 (or more) bombs in their age-40 season.
His ride into the twilight has been magical. Maybe even mystical…or is that mythical? I guess it’s a bit of “all of the above,” which was always my least favorite option on a multiple choice test. Not this summer, however.
As Ortiz continues to ridicule middle age and opposing pitchers, there have been many questioning why wouldn’t he change his mind and just come back again for the 2017 season? Such utter bullshit. The only utility in asking that annoying fucking question is to distract people – mostly those asking the question – from just taking it all in. Bask in the warm glow of his luminous smile, his inclusive personality, and brilliant final season at the plate.
Besides, just the act of running (for Ortiz) feels like walking on hot coals with shards of glass and razor blades mixed in. That’s not a direct quote, but the subject has been discussed quite frequently this season. For that fact alone, we should all be even more impressed with the 40 doubles he’s amassed up to this point in the season. I mean, the guy has never been a speedster and by 40 years old, everyone loses a step, but add in the pain factor and getting to second base 40 times is pretty remarkable. I know I’m watching with a sense of wonder and awe.
And that brings me back to that annoying, insipid begging for Papi to return in 2017.
I love the Boston Red Sox and watching Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform is a big part of that experience. Yet, I’m happy he’s retiring. I was happy when he announced it before the season. With each passing day and every game when Ortiz does something to note in the record books, I’m even happier. There are tons of precious little stories to weave into the narrative thread of his last season. Take that walk-off double back in May.
That double also put him in an exclusive club. With that double, he joined Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds as the only players who have 600+ career homers and 500+ doubles. Along with the 30-homer club he’s in and many other (almost daily) gems, we are being treated to possibly the best retirement parade ever.
This is exactly the kind of fairy tale ending a lot of fans are fueled by, myself included. It’s unfortunate for you, dear reader, that I’m a romantic. Therefore, I’m juiced by the wondrous unfolding that has continued into this waining August and seems won’t stop until the last time he gingerly descends the dugout steps.
And when will that last descent be? The Sox are currently a game and a half behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East lead and have the firmest grip on a Wild Card spot of the seven teams contending. Will the league’s best offense be able to overcome a middling pitching staff and go deep into the postseason?
How amazing, how soul-fulfilling would it be to see Papi to hang up his cleats for the last time while holding his fourth World Series trophy? Well, to be pragmatic, I doubt that’s going to happen. It seems that this is a year of destiny for the Chicago Cubs, but that’s for another story. FanGraphs does list the Sox as having the fourth best odds of winning the World Series, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Presenting David Ortiz with his fourth ring next spring is the only way I want Papi back on the field in 2017.
So, once again, thank you for everything you given Sox fans over the years. Enjoy retirement!