Today was the first day of classes after Spring Break, and there were some glitches, as always. I'm the TA for a 9am class, and after a phone call from the professor warning me that he would be late, I showed up to find out that the classroom was locked, even to the professor when he fought his way through traffic. So, while waiting for maintenance, you might think we would talk about the course material (American Government). I'm sorry to tell you that assumption would be false: we talked about baseball, of course!
I was (not unusually) the only female involved in the discussion, which was interesting to say the least. My classmates have some definitive opinions, the most memorable of which was "Papi's done. The guy sucks."
On one hand, the speaker (who had spent his break at Spring Training) had something of a point: David Ortiz's career is clearing winding down, and as much as he protests he has something left, his Spring numbers have been less than encouraging (.224 BA with 3 HRs in 49 ABs). However, as Tito has mentioned multiple times, Spring Training numbers don't mean too much, and Papi had a monster stretch run last season - if you predicted that he would finish with 28 bombs and 99 RBIs after that atrocious start, I'm going to start calling you Nostradamus.
Ortiz is in a tough spot: Theo has made it clear that the Red Sox will not be as patient with him this year, and if fans are ready to categorically dismiss him, that's not a good sign. When I heard my classmate disparage Papi this morning, it made me sad. First, because it was part of an overall gripe about a "weak" lineup, which I've already addressed, but mostly because I'm not ready to let go of the old David Ortiz.
Lest you forget, David Ortiz is the most clutch hitter in Red Sox history - and he has the hardware to prove it.
David Ortiz was one of the twenty-five. The men that should never have to buy a drink in New England again. And Ortiz wasn't some bench guy or role player - he delivered some of the most memorable postseason hits in the 21st century, on the way to breaking an 86-year-old "curse."
Maybe Papi's productive days are over. Perhaps he can't play at the level necessary to help the 2010 version of the Boston Red Sox. But even if that's true, he deserves our respect. Are we so short-sighted that we'll forget what he did for us? I'm not advocating for Tito to play him if he isn't up to par, but he deserves to go out with some dignity. Personally, I'm hoping he has an adequate year, then rides off into the sunset - perhaps with another ring to show for it.