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Big Patience with Big Papi

Big Patience with Big Papi

It was only a matter of time before I addressed this topic. David Ortiz is struggling and struggling hard. It brings me great pain to write about someone who has been my favorite player since the Sox signed him in ’03. I will never forget the night Ortiz became #1 in my book. Living in San Diego at the time, I drove up to Anaheim for the Red Sox series. It was the Sunday, April 27th, rubber match game. Anaheim tied the game up in the bottom of the 9th, forcing extra innings. Fast forward to the top of the 14th. Ortiz stepped to the plate on a pinch hit appearance, and notched his first home run of the year and as a Red Sox (at the time he was batting .188). After Varitek hit his own blast, the sox won 6-4. Back in 2003, the Anaheim fan base was non-existent. Sox fans dominated in numbers. That night was a joyous occasion and groups of Sox fans gathered at the entrance by the giant helmets. Complete strangers were chanting, cheering and dancing for our new hero; David Ortiz. That moment marked the beginning of my 7-year obsession for Big Papi. We even share the same birthday.

Now that we know where my loyalties stand, it’s time to face reality. I have mixed feelings, but my main feeling is “Relax people, Tito will take care of it!” I know the rest of you have an opinion so here is your chance to be “Manager of the Day”. To me, this isn’t a black and white issue. There are so many factors, other than just stats.

Here are the facts: Ortiz is 4-26, batting .154, with 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 3 walks and 13Ks. Yikes! On paper, that is NOT GOOD. It’s a no brainer he should be benched, right? Not so fast!  Big Papi is a hero in this town. The fans adore him, the media loves him and he is the glue in the clubhouse. Not to mention he was the best clutch hitter Boston has ever had and he carried the Sox to 2 World Series Championships. Is Tito supposed to give up on a man that has given so much to this city and team after only 8 games into this season? Sports radio (WEEI) fans wanted him benched after 2 games when he was 0-7!!! Come on, that is absurd.

Is Papi on the back 9 of his 18 hole career? Yes. Is he getting older? Yes. But did he finish last year’s season strong after struggling throughout April and May? Yes! So give him a chance to get going. Last year, fans wanted to give up on him from the start, but he finished the season with 28 HRs and 99 RBIs. That tells me he is not ready to hang up his cleats just yet.

I want to know if New York fans are searching for  Mark Teixeira’s replacement because of his poor start. Let’s compare stats, shall we?

David Ortiz:        4-26, batting .154, with 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 3 walks and 13Ks

Mark Teixeira:   3-31, batting .097, with 5 runs, 4 RBIs, 7 walks and 7 Ks

Neither is impressive! So why is Papi taking all the heat? NY fans, I am curious. Is Teixeira being thrown under the bus as well? We all know that NY and Boston are tough media markets to face as an underachieving pro athlete. But something tells me that NY is not planning on Teixeira’s departure anytime soon. The one stat that jumps out at me are the strikeouts. Papi, is leading the league in Ks. Could that be the problem? Papi used to be one of the best 2 strike hitters in the game. Now when he gets behind in the count with 2 outs, people get up start heading for the bathroom. Something is off and thank God for Tito. Tito will give him the chance he so well deserves. Other managers might not have as much patience, but Tito certainly does. I was speaking to someone yesterday and his outlook was simple. “In Tito, We Trust!” I couldn’t sum it up any better. We aren’t even 2 weeks into the season and Soxs fans want to jump ship on the team, players, and the coach. That is no surprise. I am more let down with the fans, than I am with David Ortiz. Where would the Red Sox be if Terry Francona gave up on Dustin Pedroia the start of the 2007 season? May 1, 2007, Dustin was batting .182. No one wanted to give him a chance and why should they have? After all, he was just a rookie and barely tall enough to ride a roller coaster. Terry stuck with him and look what happened. He won AL Rookie of the Year , helped the Sox win their 2nd World Series and went on to win the AL MVP in ’08. I am talking about a “no-name” (no offense Dustin) player that had not earned the respect of the fans, the media and clubhouse the way David Ortiz has. Ortiz is a Boston legend and he has earned the respect and patience that Francona is giving him today. Would Belichick bench Brady after continuous poor performances? Brady wasn’t exactly the stud this year he was in the past but he still was our QB game after game. Speaking of legends, Gordon Edes reminded us all today of the great Ted Williams who at age 39, was “batting .225 with just five extra-base hits in his first 116 plate appearances. He wound up hitting .328 that season.”

I wonder if all this lack of support for Ortiz has to do with the Red Sox powerhouse bench. It is no secret Mike Lowell is an equal crowd favorite at Fenway. I am a big Mike Lowell fan and it is tough to see him on the bench. I can also see the simple logic of when one of your starters is struggling, why not switch him out with a former World Series MVP that still has plenty of pop in his bat. This topic is another grey area. Mikey can hit the snot out of the ball but he can’t outrun a toddler. Let’s not all forget the only reason Mike Lowell is still a Red Sox, is because the trade with Texas fell through. I think all of Boston assumes that with Papi struggling, it is a no-brainer to replace him with their beloved, Lowell. It is a tough situation all around. I wouldn’t want to be Francona. Mikey is in the lineup today and he is 1-2 after being robbed of a single to left field. If Papi doesn’t get it together we will see Lowell, but I predict Papi will still have a couple weeks to work his issues out.

The only compliant I have regarding Ortiz, is where he hits the ball. I have said for years,  he needs to take advantage of the infield shift and go to the opposite field. Unless they pitch him inside EVERY pitch he should be able to get on base every time with a simple inside-out swing. Or why not lay down a bunt? If they are going to put the switch on him every time, hit it where they are not. What happened to fundamental baseball? Yes, I know, they are not paying a home run hitter to drop bunts, but if that is what it takes to get on base and start forcing the defense to play him straight away, do it. If he can start going the opposite way on a frequent basis it will immediately get his confidence back. In the long run, he’ll eventually start seeing the ball better. I played college softball. Being able to hit to the opposite field, and dropping a bunt are expected of you. I am not saying I could do what is expected of a MLB player. However, if I could do it as a college athlete, I expect it to be done at the professional level. I have never understood why certain MLB players can’t lay down a bunt or hit to the opposite field, when expected of them. How do they get to that level if they can’t/won’t execute a fundamental skill? We are talking about professionals! These guys are the best of the best. The fact that Ortiz is a PROFESSIONAL baseball player, I expect him to drive an outside pitch (and even and inside pitch) EVERY time to the location he desires, especially when they are giving him the entire left side of the field.

Right now, everyone is giving up on him; the media and the fans. Frustration is showing and pretty soon he is going to give up on himself. He has verbalized his frustration to the medi and to the umpires by getting tossed last friday night. Eventually he will start shutting down towards the fans. I hope that doesn’t happen because Boston and the fans adore David Ortiz because of his upbeat, positive nature on the field. I know playing time should not reflect on how “upbeat and positive” you are, but this man has certainly earned some hard core patient from Tito, his teammates, the media and the fans.

This fan right here, is not giving up just yet. Tito will make the right decision in the end. Let’s try giving Papi a little support and less hate. Where do you stand on this topic?

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I was born a sports fan. Playing soccer, basketball and softball in high school, then moving on to play Div. II softball at Keene State on partial scholarship. In 2003, our team was inducted into the Keene State Hall of Fame. GO OWLS! I am a die hard Red Sox, Patriots and UNC Tar Heel hoop fan. Most of my friends call me Baseball Brenda because when it comes to ranking my priorities in life, the Red Sox always are first on the list. I average about 40 games a year and I have attended every home playoff game since moving back to MA in 2005. I am super competitive and excel at anything you can win at :) Horseshoes, ping pong, darts, pool, cornhole, and bowling. Always love a good challenge. I play a lot of golf in the summer and a lot of fantasy sports. I am always looking to meet local Sox fans so look me up on Facebook.

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In response to “Big Patience with Big Papi”

  1. redsox3fan Apr 15 20109:36 pm


    I agree that hitting to the opposite field should take priority here. Papi has tried to lay down the occasional bunt but it hasn’t been very successful. Still, I like your comment re: fundamental baseball, ie small ball.
    Drop him in the order and if he doesn’t start hitting, sit him down and get him taking extra (extra) BP.
    Good point about Teixiera. Will be interested to hear from NY fans as you mentioned.
    One last thing, always capitalize Sox. ;)

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 15 201010:14 pm


      I agree with you on dropping him in the order for sure. That was the one comment I failed to mention in my blog. I have no idea on earth why he is batting 5th.

  2. Jim Mulligan Apr 15 20109:58 pm


    I am admitted non-Red Sox fan. Having said that, is it a coincidence that once MLB started testing for PHD’s that Ortiz started this slump?

    This is the 3rd year in a row that he’s started slowly. Just saying this is becoming a pattern for you guys…

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 15 201010:11 pm


      I certainly can’t argue with that one.

      That is a topic I like to avoid for obvious reasons :)

    2. Pribs Apr 15 201010:28 pm


      What, they can’t do post-grad work? What’s wrong with a PHD?

  3. vamp311 Apr 16 20101:32 am


    I disagree with your comparison of Francona (but lets add Theo also) to Bellichick. The difference is Bellichick holds no sentimental value to a player and he is pretty good in knowing when you are DONE. Belichick will just cut or trade a player when he can see a player is no longer viable for his team. Now the Red Sox should take a page from the Belichick book and cut players that have no Return On Investment. I know baseball contracts are guaranteed but lets just cut the losses and move on. Don’t let the turnstile hit you in the ass Varitek, Lowell, Ortiz. Bye Bye!

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 16 201011:27 am


      Funny, you should say that. I agree, with you. Perhaps, the Sox organization needs to toughen up a bit.

      You brought me to a point I have been saying recently. The Red Sox have been taking a page out of the Patriots book (not in a good way) for a while now by signing “past their prime” players that are at the end of their careers. Patriots have picked up players over the years that have already seen their better years (the newest addition is Alge Crumpler, Junior Seau, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth, Reche Caldwell, Corey Dillon, Vinny Testaverde, and Doug Flutie.

      The Sox seem to be flying in their footsteps in the past few years by brining on either “past their prime” or “old” players such as Lackey, Bill Hall, Mike Cameron, Julio Lugo, Bartolo Colon, John Olerud, J.D. Drew, David Wells. Even Curt Schilling can be on that list. Luckily, he still performed well but on paper he was pushing “too old” when he signed.

      Maybe they need some tips from the Patriots, but certainly not when it comes to signing players past their prime.

    2. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 20 20102:23 pm


      What do you know, the Patriots just signed another “past his prime” player….Torry Holt. They keep the tradition going.

  4. CraigT Apr 16 201010:05 am


    A few things. Tex is a complete ballplayer, Ortiz is a hitter, nothing more, with numerous question marks concerning HGH or steroid use. Theo “the boy genius” may not actually be so smart, HUGE payroll misspent on B level talent. I mean really, the guy gave Julio Lugo 9mil a year!
    I certainly appreciate your passion and desire for your team to do well, but it looks like the stars are alligned again for the Yanks to run off a string of WS appearances. The tale of two cities.

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 16 201010:53 am


      I wasn’t comparing Teixeira and Ortiz as players. I was simply comparing their stats and wondering if Yankee fans were flooding sports radio wanting to bench him. Of course you can’t compare their roles on the field, and they are both in different stages in their career. The list goes on. The comparison was to speak more about boston fans.

  5. ambro Apr 16 201012:07 pm


    The big thing is that his skills have diminished, probably due to the fact he doesn’t have his fellow hormone buddy hitting in front of him anymore. They need a lefty in the spot of the order and JD Drew is not the answer as well. Possibly Hermidia can step in and they can catch lightning in a bottle who knows. As for Texeira, the Yankess are the World Champions right now, which means they are gods in this city and can’t do no wrong. Let Ortiz be they really have no where else to turn, how bout trade Lowell, Ortiz, Buckholtz, Scutaro and $$ for Hanley Ramirez…now thats a thought!

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek May 11 201011:53 am


      Looks like Hermida is catching that “lightening in the bottle.” I like your trade offer :)

  6. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 16 201012:19 pm


    Now we have someone else to compare him too. I was unaware of this. Interesting what we choose to focus on.

  7. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20105:48 pm


    Brenda, I like your writing, despite not being a baseball fan… One question: Are you of Czech origin?

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek Apr 16 20105:53 pm


      Thanks Dan! I appreciate that. I wish I could contribute more to the hockey “convo” but I am simply a Bruins supporter, nothing more. I have nothing to bring in terms of knowledge of the game or opinions. I notice you mix it up with golf too? Big golfer? I am a frequent golfer myself.

      My last name is polish. It used to be spelled Szczepanek.

      1. Dan Rakusan Apr 16 20105:58 pm


        Polish, gotcha! I am Czech, hence my question…

        Yes, I am on a local golf tour, although I totally suck at it (16-20 handicap, depending on the season).

        I mix it up in hockey, NFL and golf on this site. I am also the site’s new editor, which is a priviledge. I am making my way slowly around the various sports and editing stuff, even older archived posts.

        I used to be the site’s web-designer and admin, but since recent growth, I have fortunately been relinquished of those duties! LOL…

        I used to love the Bruins when they had Neely and Bourque, but now find myself really only cheering for Chara and Krejci. Sobotka a bit too for nationalist reasons…lol…

    2. LovinSoCalLife Apr 26 20102:07 pm



      You have to have better game than that to get on the Bren-sters good side :)


  8. johnnymaher Apr 18 20101:50 pm


    Brenda, I agree with the need for Papi to lay down a bunt or an occasionally check hit to 3rd. If he learns to do that a few times, the shift goes away and his average goes up. Text Tito when you can and see if he can get David to go for it.

  9. LovinSoCalLife Apr 26 20102:05 pm


    Yo Brenda, I LOVE THE NEW GIG! Do you actually get paid for this??? Great work! Keep it up!

    So, I love Big Papi as much as any Sox Fan. However, there is obviously a big difference between Big Papi BJ and Big Papi AJ. BJ – or ‘before the juice’ when he was with the Twins, his numbers pretty much looked like they do now. AJ – or ‘after the juice’ he exploded. Now he’s back to his BJ numbers…seriously, can anyone really debate why?

    I say let’s trade him while we can and finally get the deal done with the Padres for the only asset that team has in Adrian Gonzalez. The Pads will be out of contention in about a month anyway.

    “BOOM!” – Ari Gold (super agent)

    1. "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek May 11 201011:56 am


      Yeah, I don’t know why the Sox haven’t pulled the trigger on Adrian Gonzalez. I am sick of them signing “past their prime” players. They never seem to splurge at the appropriate time.

  10. P-Luz Apr 27 20109:52 pm


    Best line of the blog.. ‘No one wanted to give (Pedroia) a chance and why should they have? After all, he was just a rookie and barely tall enough to ride a roller coaster.’
    Nice job, Brenda

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