Those gaudy/then gaudier/then gaudiest/then less-gaudy/then not-gaudy-at-all numbers are David Ortiz’s OPSes since joining the Boston Red Sox in 2003. (Joe Morgan has stopped reading already.)
This year has been Big Papi’s worst since 1999 when – at the age of 23 – he got 20 at-bats for the Twins.
In the 20 months since Boston’s seventh World Series title, Ortiz has mustered a paltry 23 home runs (including a nice round zero through 17 percent of this season). This after knocking 288 dingers in his first five (substance-free, fingers crossed, jinxjinxjinx) Sox seasons.
David Ortiz is still our DH. There’s no questioning that. But continuing to allow him to bat third for a team that’s vying for its eighth world title (and its third in the past six years) is unconscionable.
He’s batting third out of respect. He’s batting third because of the past. He’s batting third because many believe he’s still a power hitter. A big bopper. A bash brother.
Ortiz is entering the twilight of his career. One of the best hitting careers the city has ever seen. The great athletes change with the times. Quarterbacks who could once scramble all over the field become stand-up pocket passers when the hips start to ache. Go-to slashing swingmen become spot-up shooters and fade-away artists when the quickness dissipates. And power hitters become just plain old hitters when that power starts to fade.
Big Papi shouldn’t be swinging for the fences anymore. His knees are bone-on-bone at this point. We, as New Englanders, have two choices: We can start up a cartilage collection drive, sponsored by Hood milk. Or we can convince Coach Tito to slide him on down the lineup.