Tuesday, September 20, 2016

So Long, Big Papi...

When you retire from pro baseball, this is how you go out-in style. In direct juxtaposition to the Yankees making A-Rod walk the plank into oblivion before the season was over, David "Big Papi" Ortiz has managed the exact opposite. In his last season, he has had one of the best seasons a 40-year old has ever had. One could argue that he may be no different than Rodriguez because his name surfaced in the Mitchell Report, but let's put that into perspective-very few names were released, giving credence to a conspiracy theory that someone was out to make Ortiz look bad. Why not release all the names? Where is the validity and integrity to a system that was supposed to keep the list anonymous? The substance in question was never named, so we don't know WHAT it was. Doubters will always presume the worst, but one thing is for certain-at least he never dodged any questions and was up-front about it, even if he stated that he didn't know and could very well be lying. 

There is credence to this. The nutritional supplement market is an unregulated Wild West-type of industry where manufacturers routinely put illegal crap in their products and are not liable nor responsible for listing the ingredients. How the fuck is anyone supposed to know what is in these products if they aren't listed? Quite a few athletes have fallen prey to this Kafka-esque dilemma, where an athletes tests positive, has the supplement tested, and when the supplement comes back positive, the athlete STILL receives a ban because he's responsible for what he puts into his body. That is utter and complete bullshit, but that's how it is. And if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it's Ortiz. He started his career as a barrel-chested Dominican slugger and ended it that way, albeit with a few more pounds around the midsection. He never turned into the Incredible Hulk, even during the heyday of the steroid era. And his stats never exibited the type of jumps common with steroid abusers. If anything, he's been consistent ever since he was traded from Minnesota to Boston and got a chance to play every day. His Ruthian physique and engaging personality is what made him accessible to the common fan. I have been unable to come up with another ball player so beloved by everyone around the league, and his sendoff is a testament to not only his talent but his place in the game.

The baseball "purists" will argue that Ortiz shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame because he was a designated hitter and hardly ever played the field. The Hall of Fame is a museum, and the players people enjoy watching the most should be in regardless of whatever statistics these idiots love to pore over to either legitimize or disregard a players' hall-worthiness. Ortiz was an integral part of one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history, aided and abetted in breaking the curse of the Bambino, and has been more of a "Mr. October" than Reggie Jackson ever was. He recently passed Mickey Mantle on the all-time home run list, and is so beloved in Boston he could run for mayor on no platform and win by a landslide. He has transcended race, skin color, and nationality during a time in America where race relations have gotten worse. Just for all that he should be a first-ballot HoF'er. And the nickname is ubiquitous. You say "Big Papi" and EVERYONE knows who you're talking about. 

I hope the Red Sox make it to the World Series. Another ring would be fantastic for what has been a career worth celebrating by all baseball fans regardless of team allegiance. And if they can beat the Chicago Cubs, that would be the existential icing-on-the-cake statement of all time, given that the Cubs are currently run by Theo Epstein, former general manager of Las Medias Rojas. 

See you in Cooperstown, big guy, and thanks for all the wonderful memories. You deserve all the accolades you get. 

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