As David Ortiz plays final series vs. Yankees, all that’s left to say is ‘thank you’

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New York Yankees. Boston Red Sox.

When someone mentions both teams in the same sentence, the first thing you think about is the captivating rivalry that ignited a flame throughout Major League Baseball. From Aaron Boone‘s walk-off home run to drown the Red Sox in 2003, to the Red Sox stunning the Yankees by winning four in a row to advance to the World Series, to the infamous benches clearing brawl between Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek. Both teams have shown fire, and have played with such intensity you’d think they were playing for their mere lives.

As years passed, the flame in the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry flickered, mainly because the fixtures that made the rivalry come to fruition hung up their cleats and left the game. Derek JeterMariano RiveraJorge PosadaAndy PettitteTim WakefieldPedro MartinezCurt SchillingKevin YoukilisJohnny Damon and many others have quietly retired, leaving David Ortiz the last one standing from the rivalry’s glory days. However, this week will be the final time Ortiz plays against the Yankees in his illustrious career, as the 40-year-old DH plans to retire come the end of the Boston Red Sox season.

Ortiz was a player Yankees fans loved to hate, mainly because his most memorable damage was during the famed rivalry. But as he hangs up his cleats at the end of the 2016 season, there’s only one thing left to do; thank David Ortiz for everything he’s done over the years.

I know, it sounds odd coming from someone who spent their preteen and teenage years despising the Boston Red Sox simply because it was “Yankees / Red Sox”. But now that I’ve taken off the fan goggles, it’s easier to appreciate Ortiz for everything he’s done regarding the rivalry and for the city of Boston.

Take yourself out of the rivalry for a moment, and just admire the numbers Ortiz put up against the Yankees. He has 53 career home runs and a .307 batting average vs. the Bronx Bombers, which is the highest among any team with a minimum of .300 at-bats. He played spoiler against the Yankees in Game 4, Game 5 and Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, and had his biggest game at the old Yankee Stadium in May of 2005 when he notched four hits and multiple home runs against former Yankees starter Mike Mussina.

However, Ortiz wasn’t just one of the many faces of Major League Baseball. He was also a sign of hope.

On April 15, 2013, explosions turned the Boston Marathon into a scene of chaos, and from Ortiz’s living room, he watched horrifying coverage as death and destruction marred the city of Boston. The Boston Red Sox honored the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings the next day, but the most memorable part of that day was Ortiz’s pregame speech.

“All right, Boston,” Ortiz boomed through a microphone as a sold out crowd kept their eyes glued on their undisputed leader. “This jersey that we wear today, it doesn’t say ‘Red Sox.’ It says ‘Boston.’ We want to thank you, Mayor [Thomas] Menino, Governor [Deval] Patrick, the whole police department for the great job that they did this past week.”

“This is our f——- city. And nobody’s going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

That one speech exemplified the kind of person he was, not only for the Red Sox, but for his city. His presence alone provided a sense of comfort during a difficult time, and it was enough to help the city of Boston overcome a major setback and recover.

David Ortiz means a lot to the Red Sox, the city of Boston, Major League Baseball and believe it or not to the New York Yankees. As he said in his Tribune post, some players are born to be Yankees. Ortiz was born to be a Yankee killer.

Even though Ortiz is playing his final series against the Yankees, there’s no doubt he will give the Yankees a special parting gift.

And of course, I’ll thank him for it.

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9 Responses to As David Ortiz plays final series vs. Yankees, all that’s left to say is ‘thank you’

  1. David K. says:

    The thing that I never quite understood is why Alex Rodriguez got skewered for PED use, while no one talks about Ortiz being on that MLB list of PED users. No apology by Ortiz, no nothing. Talk about double standards. Some guys just live a fairy tale existence and never have to pay the piper. No rhyme or reason to it, just the way it worked out. As far as the games, I never thought he showed great class or sportsmanship. Bat flipping when he hits one out, and screaming and jumping at the umpire when he's called out on strikes. No one on the Yankees (Jeter, A-Rod, Bernie, O'Neill etc) ever did that sort of thing regularly, if at all. And the home plate umpires always say "no swing" when his bat goes past the plate with two strikes. And Boston pitchers hit Yankees, but no one ever hits Ortiz. I don't know if it was intimidation or just maintaining good friendly relations with opposing players. That's mostly what I remember of Big Poppy's (or Big PED's) legacy.

    • mosc says:

      Over the counter supplements contained drugs that would fail you from a PED test in the "confidential" test he failed. There were no penalties. MLB has never told him what he actually tested positive for because the results of the test were confidential and MLB doesn't know who tested positive for what even if much of it has leaked to the media over the years. In modern testing they have a list of restricted drugs and he has always tested clean against that list. Ortiz has had a lot of success in the testing era where others have not.

      Honestly, I think Ortiz like many players back then were going to GNC and buying stuff because they knew there was no penalty and it wasn't illegal (to the police not to MLB). When the sport got cleaned up there were those who got much more stealthy about what they were doing (Rodriguez, Braun, etc) who probably did a lot more overt steroids previously but there's no indication that was Ortiz.

      Amphetamine (greenies) use was out of control for most of baseball history. Players are cleaner today than they have been in a very long time. Ortiz's recent success carries a lot of weight to those who will evaluate some kind of steroid adjustment.

      • Jerry says:

        Jim Bouton in the book Ball Four, said they kept a bowl of greenies by the door as you walked into the clubhouse, just like candy in any office. Everyone was popping them. As for steroids use, I'm not condemning any of the players for doing it, the owners looked the other way and the production of the players was exciting for the game. Several players became addicted to them, like an Arod, not just physically but mentally. Also the drug testing as we've heard is always behind the drug users , always developing drugs that can't be detected. We will never know for sure who has and who hasn't. And isn't it true Bonds and Clemens never failed a drug test? So like right now we can't be sure everyone is clean or not.

        • David K. says:

          "We will never know for sure who has and who hasn't." Yeah, for the most part, except for the ones who admitted it. But I think Jose Canseco's claim that most were doing it is correct. And if Manny Ramirez was doing it, I'm pretty sure Ortiz was as well.

  2. John in Seattle says:

    Umm, O'Neill frequently was displeased with strike outs. But Ortiz was NEVER demonized for PED and rarely got as much as a brush back pitch. He played 20 years and was hit by 40 pitches. WTH?

    Reggie Jackson was hit 99 times 20 years.
    Willie Stargell was hit 79x in 20 years.
    Jason Giambi was hit 184x – 109 as a Yankee in 7 years.
    Mo Vaughn was hit 108x in only 12 years.
    Just for fun, Derek Jeter was hit 175 times in 20 years.

    All stats from baseball-reference.com

  3. Balt Yank says:

    Ortiz is a classy player who has never admitted using illegal substances, has not broken down with age like many heavy steroid users, and has been tested many times without much coming to light during his last 10 years. AROD used steroids for many years, clearly bulked up, lied about it repeatedly, and then embarrassed himself by suing baseball and the MLB when he was entirely at fault and to blame. AROD stinks, and his hits often came with the Yankees ahead. Ortiz is class and clutch. PS: I am a Yankee fan.

    • Neil says:

      That's cause he's taking something. Can't prove it. But if you have hours of spare time find a player that is better and has more production at 40 than in his first 6 years. Yes, it's a conspiracy theory and I'm a Red Sox hater. And I agree with the original post , how come we never brushed that big ox back. He killed us every year and we did nothing. They would throw at jeter as if his uniform said Hit me. I don't get it.

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