According to Ian Browne of MLB.com, “when Ortiz’s drive to right-center cleared the fence in the top of the fifth, he passed Chipper Jones for 32nd on the all-time homer list with 469. And the RBI was No. 1,538, pushing Big Papi past Joe DiMaggio for 46th in that category.”
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One day after being suspended for bumping an umpire, an appeal was made which kept Ortiz in the lineup. His anger over the incident, and how the media has concentrated on it, may have boiled over to help him bash that home run, but it definitely kept him from enjoying the moment: “The other day, I think I tied DiMaggio in RBIs,” said Ortiz. “In the past four days, all I’ve seen on TV is, ‘Papi got thrown out of the game.’ I thought Joe DiMaggio was a [big star], right?”
Between the video and his comments last night, Ortiz was not really in a reflecting mood. Yet, could this be the sign of good things happening for Big Papi?
Before last night, Ortiz was hitting just .205 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs to start this season. The nine-time All-Star looked to be searching for an answer at the plate, swinging at poor pitches badly, hoping in vain for a hit. It has not looked like the man who gave the battle cry to all of Boston in 2013, after the city’s marathon bombing. That anger boiled to taking the team on his back and carrying them to the World Series. Ortiz was made the championship’s most valuable player, that year, hitting .688 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in only 6 games.
Instead of reflecting on what made Ortiz so angry that year or recently, because they are nowhere near the same thing, we should think about his general personality. Ortiz is a passionate guy. He loves baseball. He loves Boston. He loves being the face of this historic franchise. So he goes all Incredible Hulk on people when he gets angry. Last time I checked, I’d rather have that at the plate than little Dr. Bruce Banner (all credit to Marvel Comics).
Of course Major League Baseball has a duty to protect their umpires, who have a right to call games without being assaulted or verbally abused. That is not being disputed, here. What is being addressed is the fire that is lit in Ortiz’s round belly. Does he play better when he’s angry? Further research would need to be made for a full assessment. On quick reflection, however, when Ortiz has passion burning through him, he seems to be a better ballplayer. Red Sox Nation may want him to harness that anger and channel it into more plate appearances, so that Ortiz can continue to make history.
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