David Ortiz is entering his 10th All-Star game at the age of 40. In pitcher-friendly Petco Park however, Big Papi will shine in his final All-Star appearance.
It’s been three years since David Ortiz last stepped foot in the MLB All-Star Game, and this year in San Diego will be his last. Fortunately for Ortiz, his final All-Star appearance finds him in the starting lineup, along with some friends from Fenway.
The Boston Red Sox will send three other starters to San Diego: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley. Along with the four hitters, Craig Kimbrel and Steven Wright will also make the journey out West. Dustin Pedroia is also up for the All-Star game’s Final Vote, but his chances of reaching Petco are slim.
Three years ago in Citi Field, at Ortiz’s most recent All-Star nomination, he was a witness when long-time New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera received a standing ovation in his final All-Star Game. Sure, Rivera is known as the greatest closer to ever play the game, but a similar reception could be in store for Big Papi on Tuesday. The Padres have only sent one player (Wil Myers) to the All-Star game, so this may very well be Ortiz’s night.
The NL has a great batch of arms to throw against the relatively young group of AL hitters (besides Ortiz, of course). By the time the second oldest starter in the AL lineup (Eric Hosmer, 26) was born, Ortiz was already a teenager. That gives you an idea of how much experience Papi possesses. Add his already known leadership ability and all signs point toward Ortiz leading the charge for his last All-Star Game hurrah.
The AL has taken the last three All-Star matchups, after dropping three straight between 2010-2012. The National League’s win in 2010 ended an American League unbeaten streak starting in 1997. So it’s safe to say the AL has dominated the Midsummer Classic in recent memory. With help the help of the league’s best DH in the 21st century, the American League looks to take a fourth straight victory.
Now for the prediction: David Ortiz will drive in crucial runs for his team to propel them to victory.
The 40-year old may not take a ball out over the deep fences at Petco Park. He might not even record an extra-base hit. Whether it’s in the early innings or in the clutch late in the ball game, Ortiz will deliver like he has done so many times in his career and in his final season.
We’ve seen the clutch hits both in regular and postseason play, and now Big Papi is ready to hoist the MVP trophy (just like Mariano) in his final All-Star appearance. And maybe, just maybe, earn the Red Sox home field advantage in the 2016 World Series.