Dustin Pedroia made a leaping catch of his own, and also collected four hits. Pedey is hitting .336 on the season. The downside of the second baseman's day came in extra innings, when he struck out with the bases loaded on a foul tip into the catchers mitt. Having seen the collection of items he slammed around in the dugout, I can only imagine the colorful language he treated the bench crew to. In years past, his anxiety might have been tempered somewhat by the fact that Big Papi hits behind him. Not so this year, as Ortiz is still waiting for his first homerun of 2009. David Ortiz set an AL record and matched an MLB record today, but unfortunately the category has limited glory: twelve men left on base by a single player in a single game. Ouch.
Obviously something is not right. I would like to give Ortiz the benefit of the doubt just a little longer. I can accept that Papi will probably never be his old self, but I would like for him to at least hit his weight. He is the absolute last person I want at the plate right now with the game on the line. (My list, if you're interested, goes Bay, Youk, Pedroia, Drew, Lowell, Varitek, Van Every... Pesky, Ortiz.) There's been some speculation, since the Manny bombshell, that Ortiz was a user, and now that he's stopped, his production has, too. Of course, there have always been whisperings, but now that quiet minority has become a mob, brandishing their pitchforks and demanding blood. David Ortiz has never been connected to steroids, has never tested positive for any PED, but, contrary to American ideals, the perception seems to be that he's guilty (by Manny association) until proven innocent.
It appalls me that Red Sox fans could behave this way. I understand that there is no proof either way, and the circumstancial evidence looks rather damning. However, I say Ortiz deserves our support until there is irrefutable evidence that he did something wrong. Sure, the man looks like a shell of himself (0-for-7 tonight), barely above the Mendoza line, but he was the hero of that magical run in 2004. How can people turn on him like this? Of course, if/when he snaps out of this, he'll have to prove his effectiveness all over again. But he deserves a chance to prove himself, and to clear his name.