Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Editor Mark Lawrence Weighs In On David Ortiz

by Mark Lawrence, Down-Under Editor
Sydney, Australia. Long time readers of my stuff here at FenwayNation - if there's any of you left - will know that I've long been a booster for David Americo Ortiz Arias a player deservedly admired and beloved by Red Sox Nation.  It goes without saying that Papi's contribution to the team has been integral in securing three World Series trophies, as well as providing hours o' fun to baseball fans across the world.  He has involved himself deeply with his local communities, both in Boston and in the DR, always striving to do what he can to help.  And, most memorably in the aftermath of that senseless tragedy, Ortiz galvanized the Fenway Faithful with plain yet defiant words that'll resonate for a long, long time.  The guy may be from the DR, but he's more than earned his Bahston Citizenship.  The only vaguely bad thing I've ever seen him do is beat the hell out of that dugout phone and that was both mildly entertaining and a teeny bit unnerving, if only because it showed that the Big Guy could get angry and frustrated and lose it occasionally - just like the rest of us.

Papi has asked for a contract extension, as is his right.  If anything prevents a mutually acceptable deal being made, it'll be Ortiz's age - he's approaching 40, and it seems to me that any club management officials tend to get a little nervous when one of their guys pass the age of 35.  Hell, if this correspondent was still 35 years old - oh, the fun an' games we be havin'!  When you stop and think about it, Ortiz doesn't have to do very much as a player but what he does do (when he does it), he does very well.  I sound like I've been to the Don Rumsfeld School of Journalism, but don't misunderstand me, sports fans - I don't want to someday see a 39 year-old Jackie Bradley teetering about in the outfield - but age precedents have already been set.  Wake pitched well into his forties, as did the inestimable Jamie Moyer, just shy of the Big Five-O when he quit.  Julio Franco finally hung up his cleats at 49, while Pudge and Omar Visquel both made it to 45.  Hell, so did chubby l'il Charley Hustle.  And what about Minnie Minoso?  His last at bat he was my age, for pity's sake.

The point here, Nation, is that age shouldn't color folk's attitudes, in baseball or indeed, any place else - performance and ability is what counts.  Some of those guys I mentioned played positions a bit more injury-prone than Designated Hitter, positions where their chances of injury were far greater than those facing a 38 year-old David Ortiz.  So, why not give him a multi-year contract? Of course, the other side of this is that sometimes when guys begin to age, their prowess begins to wane.  I don't know about you, but it seems to me that Papi has actually improved a little these last few years.  And I, like my old pal Frank Sinatra, have a funny feeling that - as far as Big Papi is concerned - the best is yet to come.