Taylor McCloud -- Cloud Nine Sports Founder
To be completely honest, this All-Star game is the first time it’s hitting me that this is David Ortiz’ last season. Since his announcement in November, I’ve been fighting it. But seeing his final introduction hit me like a ton of bricks.
I watched Mariano Rivera introduced for the final time, and Derek Jeter, too, but neither of those had this effect on me. Obviously I’m a Red Sox fan, so that makes sense. But I’m a baseball fan, and both Rivera and Jeter were monumental for the game. Their final All-Star introductions should have moved me more. But they didn’t. David Ortiz did.
There have been other “lasts” for Ortiz this year. His final Opening Day, his final Fenway opener, his final games in various cities. Those are all distant memories, and I guess for good reason. The first half he’s had has made it extremely easy to forget that he’s retiring at season’s end. Not often does a 40 year old in his final season lead the league in OBP, SLG, OPS, and XBH, but David Ortiz isn’t a normal 40 year old.
That is, until last night. Last night, David Ortiz finally experienced the first thing other 40 year old baseball players of his stature go through. He received a standing ovation when he was introduced, and another when he left the game, all because this is it.
What does that mean for the Red Sox?
It means that anything less than a World Series Championship is a failure. If David Ortiz goes out anything but a champion, this season will be a bust. It’s obviously a hard pill to swallow for a team coming off of a last team finish, but it’s how it is.
“Hang on though, there’s no way Ortiz is actually retiring this year, right?”
I wholeheartedly believe there is no way David Ortiz plays baseball in 2017. It’s not because he’d have to give back all of the gifts he received, and it’s not because of all of the fanfare. David Ortiz isn’t playing baseball in 2017 because he’s giving everything he has to 2016. And he’s paying the price.
All of the effort he’s putting in is hurting him. A couple of weeks ago he said his feet and legs hurt so much it’s to the point where he can’t feel them. All of the extra base hits he’s legging out are killing him. That’s why he’s retiring. He’s leaving everything out there. After this season, he’s not going to have another offseason of preparation in him, and he’s certainly not going to have another 162 games in him. And it was this All-Star Game that really brought me to this realization.
But what’s important is that this year is far from over. David Ortiz has more games to play, more hits to be had, and more homers to be mashed. That fourth World Series ring isn’t out of his reach, and I guarantee he will do everything in his power to make that ring a reality.