Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

I’m Still an Ortiz Guy at Heart

David Ortiz isn’t the hit machine he was during the ’04-’07 seasons. He is no longer is going to flirt with the 50 home run plateau. The clutch hits that seemed to happen so often have certainly slowed down. His longtime partner in crime, Manny Ramirez, was disposed of in the middle of the 2008 season. He’ll be serving a 50-game suspension before hitting for the Athletics. Things have changed. Ortiz isn’t the same guy he was during the middle segment of the previous decade. He’s just not.

But he’s still pretty damn good.

Two World Series rings, numerous top five finishes for the AL MVP, too-many-to-count All-Star selections, and without looking, I’m sure the guy’s taken home a Silver Slugger Award or eight. He is 36 years old and has made more money than a young, skinny David Arias probably ever dreamed of making. There isn’t a ton a left to accomplish for the big fella. Somehow, Ortiz seems as motivated as ever.

In a piece in this morning’s Globe, the often maligned Dan Shaughnessy described an encounter with Ortiz yesterday afternoon outside of the Red Sox clubhouse at Jet Blue Park. Without delving too deep into the details, Ortiz was upset with a comment he thought Shaughnessy said in an episode of Globe 10.0 (it was actually Kevin Paul Dupont, but that’s not important). Ortiz was juxtaposed to Jim Rice who experienced a dramatic drop in performance after turning 36 years old. The longtime designated hitter had apparently taken exception to that comparison.

In an attempt to provide some consolation to the hulking Ortiz, Shaughnessy reminded him that Dupont is one of the Globe’s hockey writers.

Didn’t matter.

“Well, [expletive] him. I am still here for a reason, right? Anybody can have a bad season. I work my ass off to get better every year. I always come hungry and I try to make things happen. Nobody but God is going to get me out of the game.”

Say what you want about Ortiz. Tell me he is selfish, sensitive, and overpaid. Hell, I made many of those accusations a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been critical of Ortiz. For a myriad of reasons, I believe that Ortiz is actually an albatross on the Red Sox. You want him off the books, but you need him. You don’t really want him here, but he doesn’t want to leave. He is a huge man that needs to be handled delicately.

It amazes me that a player so accomplished, so distinguished, always finds a way to remain motivated. Again, you can say what you want about the guy, but you will never be able to say that he doesn’t care. He cares so deeply it almost hurts.

And as fans, isn’t that all we can really ask for?

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2 thoughts on “I’m Still an Ortiz Guy at Heart

  1. Thoughtful commentary, Dan. As a long-time Ortiz fan (and, yes, owner), I can relate. I can’t help liking him, and I think you’re right that, ultimately, the over-sensitivity, as tiresome as it is, is just a product of how much he cares.

    As for his value, he’s always the last guy to make the cut on my protected list, and by midseason I’m thinking, “Why was I even considering cutting him?”

    And with so many faces from the glory years gone, it won’t seem like the Sox when he’s no longer around.

  2. Good points, Professor. I’m pretty sure he is now the oldest guy on the team. It’s been nine years since he was an unknown commodity, joining up with the Red Sox. His key this year will be to see if he can come close to replicating his production against left handed pitchers. He was pretty unreal last season. If he is consistently taking the ball to the opposite field, he should have another good year. Should be interesting to see where he goes in fantasy drafts too.

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