And just like that, the most important man to ever bear a Red Sox uniform, was gone. Despite a stellar season, the Boston Red Sox sent David Ortiz off in anticlimactic fashion. However, that’s not what this blog will be about. Did the Sox choke? Yes. Were they outplayed? Yes. Did they under perform (Papi included)? Yes. Did the Indians deserve to win? Absolutely. Did Papi’s career deserve to end the way it did? No, but that’s baseball.
You could feel it last night when Papi stepped to the plate representing the tying run in the bottom of the 8th inning. Can he do it one last time? Will the legend give us one more heroic memory? Instead, the Indians (intelligently) pitched around him and walked David Ortiz on four pitches on what would turn out to be the final at bat of his illustrious career. You could tell he didn’t want to go to first base. The 3-0 pitch was close enough that you could see the ump calling it a strike so Papi sauntered around the plate for a few seconds before it was clear that there would be no late strike call.
As disappointing as it was not seeing Papi get one last swing in one last clutch situation, in my mind a walk (of that nature at least) is a sign of respect. It was a respectful way to send Papi off.
But now, he’s done. Retired. Number 34 will never play again for the Boston Red Sox. The Large Father has left countless memories with Red Sox Nation and we will always have them. We will always remember how Papi beat the curse with his clutch hits deep into the night of the 2004 ALCS. We will remember his fire. We will remember how he put the city of Boston on his back days after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 by proclaiming to the Fenway Faithful “This is our fucking city.” We will remember when he brought the third World Series to Boston in ten years when he hit over .600 and won the World Series MVP. We will remember the tough times too. The contract disputes. The tantrums. The outspokenness towards the fans and owners. The questions of “is Papi done?” We will remember it all and I think every Red Sox fan agrees, the good exponentially outweighs the bad.
He’s one of the greatest Red Sox ever. I don’t think you can say he is the greatest, but he’s definitely on the Mount Rushmore. Jarred Carrabis from Barstool Sports said earlier in the season that David Ortiz is the “most important Red Sox” of all time and I think that was spot on. What other Red Sox player accomplished as much as Papi did for the franchise? The answer is nobody. He’s gotten a bridge and a street named after him, but deserves so much more.
Last night, after the game and after Cleveland was done celebrating, Papi came back onto the field for one final ovation. He tipped his hat to the Fenway Faithful as a player one final time. There were tears in his eyes, but he wasn’t the only one crying. As someone who grew up watching David Ortiz, it is going to be weird not seeing him play next year. It will not feel right or complete. The Red Sox and their fans will move on, but there will never be another David Ortiz.
Is he a Hall of Famer? If I had a vote, yes. But I don’t so who knows. He may or may not live forever in Cooperstown, but he will live in the hearts of every Red Sox fan forever. Thank you, Papi. Thank you for everything.