Dear, David Ortiz
As the 2016 season went on and you continued to perform at such a sensational level, it made the inevitable goodbye even more difficult to contemplate. For the last seven months baseball has been able to shield this moment behind your monster stats like the American League leading doubles, slugging percent, OPS, and even the most intentional walks. Not to mention your .315 batting average, fifth season with 40+ home runs and your tenth season with 100+ RBIs, all of which came while playing for Boston. Oh, and you’re forty years old. How could we forget this is your twentieth season playing baseball. Fans look at all of this and ask one question: how the hell is David Ortiz walking away? That’s not what this is about. This is not the time to pester you to come back, even if we would welcome you back in a heart beat. This is not the time to mourn the 2016 season. We are here to celebrate what we have been able to be a part of.
Your first season in Boston, Aaron Boone took Tim Wakefield deep over The Monster in the ALCS. Then you were apart of it. The misery. The 86 years. The Curse. The next season squaring up with the Yankees one more time, the tables turned, after game three at least. Down 3-0 in the series, all but over. But with the help of a few other notable contributors, you won that series. Your stats speak for themselves and the consistency even in the biggest moments were unfathomable. The curse was broken, and you were the face of it and the team. As sweet as that World Series was for Red Sox fans, you weren’t done. You gave them another one in 2007.
Then the city of Boston was attacked. You showed you could do more than break curses and hit bombs, you could mend souls. Despite speaking in your second language, the words spoke volumes to the people of the city who had adopted you as one of their own. The simplicity of “This is our f****ing city” was almost as perfect as the World Series ring you delivered later that season, being the third of your career.
When Travis Shaw popped that ball up to Lonnie Chisenhall in right field in the bottom of the 9th in game three of the ALDS, I finally processed this was the end. The stats were no longer there to cushion this moment. The “John Elway perfect ending with a championship” dream was squashed. The “PAPI” chant broke out in Fenway as you walked down into the locker room as the Cleveland Indians celebrated on your field. The thank you’s began to rain in from players and fans on social media. Personally I thought back to my first Red Sox game. July 11, 2010, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw for the Sox against Jesse Litsch. In the top of the sixth, Red Sox up 2-0, you hit an absolute moon shot to right field off Litsche. An eleven year old kid sitting 3 rows up to the right of the Sox dugout stood up at the crack of the bat, watched the ball fly into the stands with his jaw on the ground. Then I thought back to my first trip to Fenway Park. June 22, 2012. Walking through Yawkey Way, I bought an Ortiz t-shirt and tossed it on immediately. We got into the park for batting practice, and as I’m taking everything in you finish whatever conversation you were having and head to he dugout. At the last moment you turned and headed over towards the stands with a ball in your hand. You tossed it to me from about 10 feet away and it landed in my brand new black Wilson A2K. After looking in my mitt to confirm that I had caught it, I looked back up to you headed to the dugout and saw that settle nod. Something you probably do more than once every game day, seems so small and insignificant, is so meaningful. It helped me get over the 4-1 loss that day and you going 0-4…
You’ve officially played your final game. That’s it. Past tense. But rather than be sad, it’s much healthier to celebrate our time together. So on behalf of baseball and Red Sox fans, and that kid you tossed a ball to over five years ago, thank you for helping make the game easy to love.