David “Big Papi” Ortiz surprised the baseball world this week by announcing his retirement after the 2016 season. This announcement came after Ortiz had another outstanding season. Ortiz hit .273 with 37 home runs and 108 RBI’s last year. He had another great year which, once again, was a surprise to many Boston fans. We posted about Ortiz back on May 31st regarding how he is underrated in regards to his impact on Boston sports and is comparable to Tom Brady. The link to the post is below.
In 2015, Ortiz posted his best power numbers in his past eight seasons. At age 39, Ortiz was still producing and it was expected that he would be right back in the heart of the lineup again next year and potentially more if he continued to produce. There has been a lot of discussion over the past few days about the reasons why Ortiz is retiring. He’s still at the top of his game. He seems to really enjoy playing. He likes his situation in Boston. These are all positives so what’s the issue here?
The reality is that we now live in a sports world where people expect players to play on forever. Example #1: Quarterback for the New England Patriots. Many Patriots fans are convinced that Tom Brady is going to play at an elite level for another 5-10 years. 2 or 3 years? Maybe. 5 -10? Father time says no. A year ago, Peyton Manning was at the top of his game. A year later, it may be over. The same will happen to Brady at some point just like it does for every player who gambles with ignoring the aging process.
OK, enough about the GQ Man of the Year. Let’s move on to Ortiz. Since 2009, fans and media have speculated that it’s over him and he will no longer be able to compete at an elite level. He has proven them wrong for six straight seasons. Last year, he was one of the best hitters in the American League from a run production standpoint.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding why Ortiz is retiring. There’s one reason that just makes sense. He’s simply getting old. He may be playing like he’s 30. However, his body probably feels like it’s 40. Maybe it’s difficult for him to go through his training routine to prepare? Maybe while his bat says yes, his body says no? Maybe he doesn’t want to do all of this work to prepare anymore? Perhaps he doesn’t want to go out looking like an old player who will be remembered for his decline on the way out rather than his greatness? Again, watch the Peyton Manning highlights like week.
Two of Boston’s great sports legends are within a year apart in age. One is saying he wants to play ten more years as if he is exempt from the aging process. The other wants to play one more year at a high level and then call it quits.
Which makes more sense?
The reality is that David Ortiz is one of those players that many fans won’t realize his greatness until after he retires. We have taken the 30 homers and 100 RBI’s for granted. Those numbers do not grow on trees. It’s been a joy to watch this player lead a team that was mocked and ridiculed across the sports world prior to 2004. David Ortiz changed the culture of the Boston Red Sox from a loser to a winner. He will go out at the top of his game as a winner. Going out on a decline is not how this winner wants to go out. Big Papi knows it’s time. Good for him…
And good for us to get to watch this Boston sports legend for one more season.