Friday, January 14, 2011

Papi Redux? Gee, I hope not!

by Mark Lawrence, Down-Under Editor

Sydney, Australia—January 13, 2011. A few days ago, I did something that only good old Australian temerity would permit me to even attempt. I’d been giving some thought to the forthcoming 2011 campaign, with particular regard to the Old Towne Team’s hitherto struggling Designated Hitter and a fairly pertinent question occurred to me.

I recalled how last year – and the year before, and the year before that – the Boston media pack had savaged David Ortiz mercilessly about his performance a mere handful of games into the season. There followed the usual howls for his head and calls for him to be riding the Acela out of town by the All Star Break. But we all know what happened – Ortiz struggled through a fairly mediocre first half, but came good - quite respectably – in the second half, making a fairly robust contribution to a team that had been crippled by injuries for most of the season. This seems to be the way Ortiz operates nowadays and I, for one, am getting used to it. But a few days ago I wondered if anyone else was, too.

This is where my Aussie temerity came in. I had the gall to email a certain woolly-headed scribbler from a certain Boston broadsheet and I asked him, in tones both respectful and courteous, if he believed that the Boston Media would cover David Ortiz’s performance any differently at the start of the 2011 Season. In other words, given Papi’s apparently now regular lousy-first-pretty-good-second, did this particular Bean Town scribe think Ortiz might – for a change - get an actual break from reporters in 2011?

It seemed a fair question to me. But, at time of this writing, I’d received no response from Daniel Shaughnessy, of the old gray Boston Globe.

So, what can we infer from this? Well, to be honest, we can infer almost any old thing. Maybe Danny’s still on vacation and hasn’t yet managed to work his way through all his fan mail. Maybe he’s snowbound somewhere on the Mass Pike, with his Blackberry battery deader than Julius Caesar. Or maybe, just maybe, he did read my query, considered it too far beneath his dignity to answer and simply pressed the Delete key.

Nation, I have a faintly nauseous feeling that David Ortiz will fare no better at the hands - and the keyboards - of the Boston Media Pack this year than he has in the last few. If Big Papi doesn’t fracture someone's skull in the center field bleachers on the very first pitch of 2011, all those ridiculous questions will be asked again and the hysterical and querulous calls for his dismissal will once again settle heavily on his shoulders for the first few weeks. And that added pressure will do no one no good no how. If the teams' hometown writers again castigate a slow-starting Ortiz, then they'll do a disservice to Boston and to themselves, as so-called professionals. It’s going to be an interesting first half, that’s for sure. And if I ever hear back from Shaughnessy, I’ll be sure to let you know.