In Fort Myers, Florida, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said to ESPN Boston‘s Gordon Edes that designated hitter David Ortiz “knows he’s going to be a Red Sox [player] as long as he wants to be a Red Sox [player].” When you are quite possibly the best designated hitter to play the game, you get sentiments like that from your boss. So, it’s not unusual for someone like Ortiz to be calm during spring training, as nobody would even think of taking the face of the franchise away from his team, even if he is 39 years old.
Talk of Ortiz’s retirement has swirled, as he enters the final guaranteed year of his contract for $16 million, with team options of $10 million for each of the next two seasons. These options could increase and are dependent on him having 425 at-bats, each year. If he wants that money, and more time in front of the fans in Fenway Park, his eyes have to be on the present task of preparing for this season.
When asked about his legacy, Ortiz dismissed the thought, as he would rather think about the present. NESN’s Ricky Doyle reported, yesterday, that Ortiz wants his mind on making an impact for the Red Sox in 2015:
"“I think that once you start thinking about that, you’re thinking about stopping … To be honest with you, I’m the kind of player — not as a player, as a person — I like to be motivated. Motivation is very important to me. Spring training to me is just another spring training where I know what I need to do to be where I want to be.”"
Ortiz wants to make his future, instead of worrying about his past. The nine-time all-star and three-time World Series champion will most assuredly be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame one day, but not today. His 466 home runs and 1 533 RBIs in 18 seasons, his best 12 being in Boston, are not going to help him win games this summer nor in the fall. The 2013 World Series MVP knows that being focused and motivated in the present moment is what helps you win championships.
With that in mind, yesterday’s question about New York Yankees’ prodigal player Alex Rodriguez wanting to play as their designated hitter had Ortiz short and to the point:
A bit out of character for the smiling Big Papi we are used to seeing, talking to the media with the ease and grace of a well-loved veteran.
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At one point, A-Rod and Boston’s Cookie Monster were good friends. Apparently, the milk soured, as reported by the
, when Rodriquez’s lawyer Joe Tacopina went on ESPN Radio in January 2014, to discuss A-Rod and connections to performance enhancing drugs. Tacopina said, ““I’m not going to start naming all the other players, but some of them are God-like in Boston right now, and people seem to forget that.” A-Rod and his lawyer have spent a lot of time together, with all of the player’s recent dealings with the media over his season-long suspension, last year. As his lawyer, Tacopina speaks for Rodriguez when he addresses the media, including that radio show. If A-Rod wanted Tacopina to say that or not, the implication was pretty clear that he meant Ortiz, even though both men denied that it was about him. It was not like it was a very cryptic message. Which other player could even think that he was God-like in Boston?
Even Rodriguez couldn’t make himself believe that one. Yesterday, when asked about his present relationship status with Ortiz, NJ.com‘s Brendan Kuty reported A-Rod also providing a short answer:”‘Good,’ Rodriguez said flatly when asked to characterize their relationship. ‘Thanks, guys,'” and abruptly ended his time with the press.
The drama fire was also not extinguished on Ortiz’s end, either. Gordon Edes also reported yesterday that Ortiz is still, to this day, not over the incident and the friendship has not continued, since. Ortiz said, “Things are not good anymore. It’s been awhile.’’
If we want to talk about legacy, here, we need to talk about everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Can anyone blame Ortiz for not wanting to look over his shoulder at the past? Who would want to see A-Rod’s smile staring back at him, after what was implied?
Whether there was any truth to the indirect accusation is not the point, because there is no evidence to prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Ortiz did or did not do PEDs. At least, not at this time. We may never really know. Baseball’s PED era will leave a mark on any and all successful players of that time, regardless of guilt or innocence. Nothing can be done about that.
All that Ortiz can do is take care of this moment in time. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare once wrote, “Let Hercules himself do what he may / The cat will mew and dog will have his day.” If the greatest of Greek heroes cannot stem the tide, why should Boston’s legendary DH be any different? What will be will be. His legacy is not for him to enjoy; it is for him to write, and he feels that there are some more pages left to go. Before Ortiz puts down his pen, let us give him time, as the Red Sox execs have, to gather his motivation for the final act.
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