Red Sox David Ortiz Batting 4th Is A Sign Of Respect
Between the love that he was getting at the 2016 Home Run Derby & his spot in the All-Star Game lineup tonight, David Ortiz is shown the proper respect.
From fist-pumping with 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson, one rainmaker to another, to taking pictures with the other players’ children, Ortiz is getting the Big Papi treatment like it’s Father’s Day. Everyone not only is celebrating the 2016 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game in style, but everyone is also giving Ortiz the respect that he deserves for a stellar career.
That love also is coming from the A.L. coaching staff, as SportsIllustrated.com reported that Ortiz will be hitting from the cleanup spot in the batting lineup tonight. The position is a highly-celebrated one, given to players known for their power and ability to cash in runs. If this were any other future Hall-of-Famer, the decision could have been out of respect for his upcoming retirement; however, nobody is questioning the reasoning for the decision with Ortiz being purely by merit.
In an era where players, especially designated hitters, are more worried about hitting home runs instead of striking out, Big Papi shows his wisdom at the plate by being first among all MLB players this season in on-base percentage (.426) and slugging (.682). Ortiz also stands fourth in batting average (.332) and second in RBIs (72). And, it’s not like the home runs have run dry off of his bat, as he’s in ninth place with 22 long balls.
Possibly the most amazing statistic is that Ortiz, at the age of 40, leads the majors with 34 doubles, five ahead of 24-year-old third baseman Manny Machado.
We could be here all day to discuss Ortiz’s career numbers, and their value to his Hall-of-Fame resume, but his true legacy lies in how the players and their families see Big Papi right now:
There were so many players and coaches who were acting as fans when Ortiz was around last night, asking him questions about how to approach the Derby, making sure they shook his hand and had their children take pictures with him. How could Ortiz celebrate a Home Run Derby any better?
Ortiz doesn’t need to prove anything anymore, and yet he continues to do it. Sean Penney of BoSox Injection discussed the matter of the Derby in a recent article: “Ortiz has participated in the Home Run Derby on four previous occasions, the last of which came in 2010 when he beat out current teammate Hanley Ramirez to win the contest. He enjoys it, but not enough to allow it to take away from his other priorities.”
The chauvinistic baseball proverb that chicks dig the long ball has no pull on Ortiz. If you watched the Derby, you would have noticed that Ortiz was more than willing to give the limelight to the younger studs of the game. When he was asked by ESPN‘s commentators about why he chose not to be in the Derby, Ortiz laughed and said how the clock, used to keep hitting sessions within four minutes, was enough to keep old men like him out and show off the future and present stars of the game. With so many professional athletes never wanting to look weak and clinging to their ‘spot’ in the media, it was refreshing to hear a legend like Ortiz, who is still beating up on opposing pitchers and leading the majors with his bat, tell the world that others should come before himself.
Next: Red Sox: Would You Rather Trade Yoan Moncada Or Andrew Benintendi?
Those were not just words for Ortiz, as he also showed that he meant it through his actions. When Giancarlo Stanton went on an absolute tear, smoking 24 home runs in the first round, this tweet showed Ortiz’s reaction:
Stanton ended up winning the competition, hitting 61 homers in total and pounding two that went 497 feet. When it came down to getting a picture done with Ortiz, however, Stanton’s concern was making sure the kids got into the frame with them:
The media might have kept the camera on Ortiz throughout the proceedings, as it was his last Derby as a current player, but the other players and their families showed the world what Big Papi truly means to them and the baseball universe. Ortiz is about the joy of family, and how baseball brings families together. That is his real legacy. If the media desires to honor Ortiz properly, they not only need to focus on the fact that he’s going out on the top of his game, they also need to focus on how much he brings his family and friends along for the ride.
Red Sox Nation should enjoy the trip, as Ortiz may bring a World Series championship to Boston if he continues to lead with his heart as much as his bat. He did it in 2013, with passionate speeches and a red-hot stroke at the plate. Judging by the love being given, by the coaches and the players, Ortiz may be ready for one last ride before he moves into the sunset.