Hadfield: Ortiz with a chance to change the conversation around here

David Ortiz can help bring the goodwill back to Fenway ... with a good year at the plate, of course.
David Ortiz can help bring the goodwill back to Fenway … with a good year at the plate, of course.

 

I can still hear the four-syllable chants being echoed, “Day-Vid-Or-Tiz!!” (clap—clap—clap-clap-clap),“Day-Vid-Or-Tiz!!” (clap—clap—clap-clap-clap).

An October Christmas carol: One of those surreal moments that come around every now and then, where you find yourself truly in awe of the power of sports; realizing, in spurts, that a game can unify thousands of people to recite a dude’s name in the thrill of victory; forgetting the garbage that sports is a business, because the Red Sox had just come all the way back from an 0-3 series hole, to eliminate the Yankees from the postseason.

Boston had gone from the verge of elimination to euphoria; all in the span of a week. This happened. I swear it did. I was there and everything.

 

***

 

“It’s starting to become the s— hole that it used to be,” Ortiz said. “Look around, bro. Playing here used to be so much fun, and now every day it’s something new not even related to baseball. People need to leave us alone and let us play ball, man, and let us do what we know how to do.”

-David Ortiz, June 2012

As unforgiving as this town can be, in the last week and change, two of Boston’s most important sports figures this last decade, Kevin Garnett and Tom Brady, made significant decisions to secure a spot in our lives for the remainder of their careers.

Garnett refused to waive a no-trade clause that would have sent him to Lob City to compete for a championship with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin; meanwhile, Tom Brady signed a 3-year extension (for about half his market value) to stay in Foxboro until he turns 40 (at which point, he’ll retire to run for President of the United States and lead The Next Great Generation! … That’s how I see it unfolding, anyway). Garnett and Brady made their bed largely because of the circumstances – each plays for a coach they respect in a great organization that puts precedence on winning before anything else.

David Ortiz made a similar move last fall, inking a two-year deal that will put him on the eve of 40 by its conclusion. But judging from his comments in the middle of last year’s 69-win campaign, the ugliness that erupted after Terry Francona’s tell-all book came out last month, and the Red Sox projected win total (somewhere 100 miles south of 90 games and nowhere near qualifying for the playoffs in October), you get the feeling Ortiz’s reasoning (justifiably) was more financial-based and had little to do with the less-than-appealing work environment.

We forget that Big Papi was once just as influential in Boston as Brady and KG (his apex was more profound than Garnett’s; and the argument could certainly be made that from 2004-07 Ortiz was a bigger name than Brady). After all, this is the same dude who ignited riots on my college campus (because that’s what college kids do when fictional curses end); who, had a five year run (2003-2008), where he could do no wrong in this town; and who we gave a pass to for a PED scandal.

More than ever, the Boston Red Sox need that guy. He holds the keys to restore some semblance of order on Yawkey Way. I’m not asking Papi to pull a Bernie Mac in “Mr. 3,000” (Hey, token terrible movie reference!) and bring along the younger players, who will hopefully develop into Boston’s future. I’m not asking him to power the Red Sox in a magical run to the postseason. Heck, I’m not even asking him to rediscover his peak form (more on this in a second). What I’m asking him to do is make the narrative about baseball again.

Look, from 2004-07 the Red Sox could do no wrong. The team was stacked, and the pipeline was producing names like Lester, Pedroia, and Ellsbury. The biggest U-turn in the history of U-turns occurred following the Red Sox’ infamous 7-20 September collapse of 2011. Since then, media and fans alike have offered nothing but snark, cynicism, and hyperbolic scrutiny in regards to anything Red Sox-related. (Hey guys – Did you hear? Clay Buchholz went to a pool party after being released from the hospital! And he signed autographs! DISCUSS.) Part of this is silly, yet most of it is deserved.

For Ortiz to right the ship, it starts on the field. It’s a tall order, but then again, so was breaking an impenetrable curse.

 

Year GP AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP SLG OPS WAR
2012 90 324 103 23 60 56 0.318 0.415 0.611 1.026 2
2006 151 558 160 54 137 119 0.287 0.413 0.636 1.049 5.5

 

Most thought Papi was on the verge of retirement after sporting a .238 batting average (his lowest since the 2001 season). But peruse his totals from last season: Before shutting down because of injury, Ortiz was having a renaissance season. Granted it was a contract year (always a red flag), but while he isn’t quite reaching the power numbers of 2006 when broke the Red Sox single-season home run record, he definitely was a serviceable DH and threat in the middle of the lineup.

For the duration of his career, Ortiz should accept that The Talk never ends. People will never “leave the Red Sox alone and play ball” as he requested. And hey, dealing with that nonsense is – and always has been – part of the job description. So instead of trying to put an end to the conversation, he should simply try to change it.

 

Ryan Hadfield is a columnist at Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @Hadfield_


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.