Big Papi, David Ortiz
The great David Ortiz will retire after the 2016 season. He should go to the Hall of Fame
There are few players in Major League Baseball today as loved as David Ortiz. He is also universally known by his Big League nickname, Big Papi, and the name itself shows the affection people have for him. It is a very warm and fatherly moniker.
Following the 2016 season, Ortiz will be heading into retirement. Someone will be hard pressed to step up and fill his shoes. Not just with the Boston Red Sox, but in the larger baseball world. His presence is huge.
Right now in the mainstream media, I mean daily now the 2016 season is upon us, people are arguing about whether or not David's career merits the baseball Hall of Fame. The arguments against Ortiz making it to the Cooperstown, New York shrine to all the greats of MLB are based on hogwash. The argument is Ortiz was mostly a designated hitter, so he's not as deserving as someone who also played the field every day. While there is some truth to the argument, Ortiz will be voted into the Hall of Fame for his hitting.
He has over 500 career home runs. It is true the number isn't as sacred a mark as it once was. The steroid years tainted the 500 home runs mark some, diluted its significance. But are all home runs created equal? No, the steroid taint proves that. Ortiz isn't famous for numbers of home runs, he's famous for when he hits his home runs. He's the icon of the walk off home run.
The big, full extension swing of David Ortiz on his 500th career home run
David Ortiz and performance enhancing drugs
The biggest knock against Ortiz isn't that he's primarily been a designated hitter. The designated hitter argument is mostly being argued simply because Ortiz once tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. What is important to know is the failed urinary analysis Ortiz tested positive in was a confidential study he submitted to. The results were supposed to remain anonymous, but they did not.
This all happened way back in 2003. Major League Baseball wasn't testing for punitive reasons, they were testing to find out how big the problem was. Ortiz has played the majority of his career since that time, and has tested clean since then. He owned up to having used some sort of performance enhancing drug. He's never had a dirty urinary analysis since that time.
David Ortiz has been the cornerstone of the Boston Red Sox team for a long long time
But the most important thing about Big Papi is what he has meant to the city of Boston, the fans of the Red Sox all over the nation and world, and to the game of baseball itself. He has been one hell of a Big Papi indeed. Remember the curse of the Bambino? That's ancient history now. Without David Ortiz, none of that stuff ever went away.
The Red Sox have had many a world class baseball star come and go during Ortiz's tenure. He's been the bedrock, the cornerstone of the Red Sox lineup. He's meant as much to the Boston Red Sox as Derek Jeter had meant to the nemesis New York Yankees.
The very first home run David ever hit as a Red Sox player was a go ahead home run in the 14th inning of a game against the Angels way back in 2003. That set the tone of the player he'd be for the team. Besides home runs, and other clutch hitting accomplishments, the man is famous for his smile, and for hugs even. He has been a global icon of baseball, an ambassador of baseball and goodwill for all to see everywhere.
A David Ortiz rookie baseball card
Sometimes we forget David Ortiz wasn't always a member of the Boston Red Sox
It is easy to forget that David Ortiz wasn't born in a Red Sox uniform. He wasn't originally a part of the Red Sox organization, and he's certainly not from Boston originally. David is from the Dominican Republic, as are quite a few other great sluggers playing baseball today. The great Albert Pujols is another Dominican-American slugging icon headed for the baseball Hall of Fame.
David was born and raised in the Domincan Republic, and after graduating high school he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners organization, but his name at the time, or what they had him down as, was not Ortiz, but Arias. In 1996 Seattle traded David to the Minnesota Twins organization, and there would be where he developed into a Major League ballplayer. He just wasn't a fit in the Twins organization, and after some years, they released David for being unable to find someone to trade him to for someone they felt would be more useful.
Baseball is full of stories of players drafted in the first round who never make it to the Major Leagues, and there are also quite a lot of stories of players who'd been dumped, and then went on to become great stars.
The Red Sox picked up Ortiz and were using him as a pinch hitter, and sometimes a designated hitter. It was 2004 when David became a big part of the team, and he helped the Red Sox beat the 86 year curse of the Bambino.
David Ortiz Career Highlights: The King of Clutch
David Ortiz is the king of clutch hitting
Of course the story didn't end with the Red Sox becoming world champions again for the first time in such a long time. The David Ortiz story was only starting then, the heat up. He just got hotter and hotter, and at one point was the single most feared slugger in baseball. When he hit is peak he was the top homer guy in the game. He's over 40 years old now, and he's not cooled down too much. David apparently wants to go out while he's still a great hitter.
So I typed into Google to see if I could get an answer to my question of just how many walk off home runs Ortiz has in his career. Well, it would be cumbersome business to find a definitive answer, but to date with the Red Sox, just the Red Sox, Ortiz has 17 walk off or game ending hits with Boston, 11 of them being long balls. This may seem a low number to you, but it really isn't. Dramatic finishes in baseball are rarer than you may think, but they are so so memorable when the do occur they stand out in the mind, so they seem more prevalent.
Bleacher Report is a great website for baseball, so I don't mind giving them a link, and should my reader like to see one for there 10 greatest David Ortiz moments, then I'm providing it. We should all, of course, remember Ortiz will be playing in 2016, so there may well be more great walk off clutch hits to grace the histories of baseball, a uniquely American sport, which we all hope to see grow increasingly across the planet. Baseball can be a thing which brings people of different backgrounds together. We're seeing that, are we not, with the internationalization of the sport.
David Ortiz hits 50th home run of 2006
David Ortiz hit his peak performance in 2006-2007
It was the 2006 season when David hit his peak, and this was three years past when he'd tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. So there is no question David was clean in 2006. Like Nelson Cruz and so many others, the drugs proved to be unnecessary for peak performance.
In 2006 big Papi compiled some amazing statistics. He had a year as good as any legendary slugger, or a year as good as the best of years from the best of seasons any other baseball legend would have been proud to call their own. David hit 54 home runs, which led the American League. He drove in 137 runs, enough to lead the American League again. Were it not for the career best year Ryan Howard had, he'd have led the Major Leagues in homers and RBIs. David also led the American league in walks, which is pretty typical for someone slugging so many home runs and extra base hits. Big Papi was never a three true outcomes player though, he hit for some very good batting averages some seasons. While he has never led the AL in batting average, in 2007 he hit for a .332 BA, and such an average is enough to lead either league some seasons.
David also had noteworthy league leading statistical years in the statistic of on base percentage. Thanks to sabermetrics and Billy Bean, on base percentage is given now the glory it should have had years prior. David had a .445 OBP in 2007.
The David Ortiz family
1997 Fleer Baseball #512 David Ortiz Rookie Card
David Ortiz, the man
The Red Sox didn't stop with the first world championship they won where Curt Schilling and David Ortiz broke the curse. The Red Sox with Ortiz won two additional world championships since then. Ortiz has also graced 9 different American League All Star teams with his deserved presence. He may well be on the team again in 2016, as farewell tours sometimes entail such courtesies.
But what about the man, the man Ortiz is when he's not under the spotlights of television cameras and blindingly bright stadium lights? Ortiz is married to a woman from Wisconsin, and David became a United States citizen in 2008. We're surely proud to have him, as he is a charitable man too. There is the David Ortiz Children's Fund, a charitable organization which donates needed things to children in need, whether they live here or there. He is Big Papi for more than just the Boston Red Sox. I've linked above to the official website, but there is also a Facebook page you may wish to visit.
David owns a nightclub in the Dominican Republic. He's not forsaken his home. You have to admire that about someone who came from poverty and has great wealth. Then there is the charity wine business. Wine is something the human race appreciates to an extreme, and has since its creation. So why not do a wine where the proceeds go to charity? It is a fine idea, I think, and there is a Vintage Papi wine somewhere for sale. It is said to have aromas of warm blackberry cobbler with currant, black plum, fresh earth, herb, cedar and a hint of anise. Flavors of black cherry, blackberry, plum, mocha, spice and mineral with rips, firm tannin on the finish.
So going into 2016 we have the great David Ortiz, the single finest designated hitter to have ever yet played the great American national past-time of baseball. He should absolutely be voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for his outstanding career, his memorable and remarkable clutch situational abilities, and for being a good human being, and an international ambassador of baseball and America. Here's a toast going down on this end towards Big Papis health and happiness and future. I wish him the best, and so should you. Thanks for reading.