via Bill Simmons – It’s hard to say goodbye to David Ortiz – ESPN The Magazine.
I admit it, I have spread the Ortiz-misses-the-steroid theory to explain why Boston’s clutch hitter has struck out in Mudville this season. I am ashamed as Bill Simmons eloquently points out that Boston’s fans owe the man an eternal debt of gratitude for delivering two World Series. His theory is the guy is older than he says he is. Whatever, it’s sad to see a legend fade.
It’s been a sports experience unlike anything I can remember. Red Sox fans refuse to turn against Ortiz. They just can’t. They owe him too much for 2004 and 2007. It’s like turning on Santa Claus or happy hour. Every Ortiz appearance is greeted with supportive cheers, every Ortiz failure is greeted with awkward silence. The fans are suffering just like he is. Only when he left 12 men on base against Anaheim on May 14 did I receive a slew of angry e-mails from back home, but even those tirades centered more around Terry Francona’s steadfast refusal to drop Ortiz in the order. I cannot remember another Boston athlete stinking this long, and this fragrantly, without getting dumped on.
Really, that’s a tribute to what he means to his fans and how delightful it was to watch him play. His career might be over (notice I left the door open; I’m such a sap), but Ortiz has reached the highest level an athlete can reach: unequivocal devotion. Sox fans love him the same way you love an ailing family member. In the end, at his bleakest point, he’s brought out the best of an entire fan base. He has inspired dignity and emotion and loyalty. The fans could have sped his demise (and saved a few games) by booing until Francona benched him. They didn’t. How often does that happen?
2 thoughts on “As Ortiz Falters Boston Fans Show Class”
I read Simmons religiously & hope that this is the case. Age deception feels a little better, I think…If Papi is (was) a juicer, I’d feel a little tainted for some reason for being such a fan of his seemingly joi de vivre approach to each at bat, the hand clap etc… I watched a little Sox bp the last time they were out here (Seattle) & he wasn’t launchin taters…Good news though, Jason Bay was crushing the ball like a red headed stepchild!
I am a total naif in believe my heroes don’t juice. “Say it ain’t so Lance ..” but whatever. It’s a game and there are those who claim Advil is a performance enhancing drug.
I just have to go back to that incredible comeback against the Yankees in 2004 when Papi delivered the groceries when it counted. For that I remain respectful.