The Power of Papi

My older, nearly 2-year-old daughter is just putting together sentences and learning the important concepts of life: she knows the words "baseball" and "Redsox," and when I ask her who our favorite baseball player is, she more often than not replies: "Big Papi!"

I was thinking about this because obviously David Ortiz hasn't really had the kind of seasons since 2007 that you'd expect out of a "favorite player." By the time Jocelyn is old enough to really root for the Red Sox, he won't be on the team. Maybe Dustin Pedroia or Jon Lester or Casey Kelly or someone who isn't even in the organization will be her favorite. Favorite players overwhelmingly tend to be likable enough guys who are really good at playing baseball (my own favorite players went in order: Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz). Sometimes they're role players who succeed at a key moment or quietly do their jobs well if unspectacularly, but success on some level almost always plays a role. Success and Big Papi have not been synonymous for some time.

So it's good to be reminded of things like this:

A Missouri resident, [Jeremy] took his family to the [Royals] game [Sunday, during which Ortiz went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts] and found himself in the hallway outside the clubhouse afterward.

His daughter Jordan, who turns 3 in July, counts David as her favorite player and named her rocking horse after him. I'll let Jeremy tell the rest of the story …

"Several players made their way to the elevator without even a hello. Then emerged Ortiz, and instinctively my little girl says "Big Papi"! After a rough game and I am sure tough questioning, he stopped, turned around, and came over to my little girl. He spoke, signed a ball for her and left with at least one moment of a smile on his face. 

"Despite the weight of the 'Red Sox Nation' on his shoulders, he found a way to touch the life of a young fan that he will never know the importance of. … In our eyes, he is a person to look up to and can only hope he finds the happiness he once had smacking the ball around the yard."

Amen. 

3 comments… add one

  • “In our eyes, he is a person to look up to and can only hope he finds the happiness he once had smacking the ball around the yard.”
    That’s part of the problem with our society IMO. These are not nor should they ever be “people to look up to”. Tiger Woods reminds us. They get paid very well to play a game. But I’ll leave my heroes for good parents, doctors, scientists, and other difference makers. I’d much rather each of those examples were lionized. If only great parenting was as revered.
    The decline of an athlete’s skills is always sad. But like death it’s inevitable. To me, that’s what makes their careers so special and especially when they cross into iconic territory. The memories are memorable exactly because of what they represent. “Papi” says it all to a generation of baseball fans, especially in the Northeast.

    Paul from Waltham April 14, 2010, 11:32 am
  • I think a huge part of the problem is Francona. For example:
    “I’d prefer not to [platoon],” Francona said. “And again, I think it’s too early to talk like that. David’s been such a mainstay for us both versus lefties and righties. And I think if you talk to any hitter, for them to succeed against one type, they almost need to face the other side also. A lefty makes a guy stay in there. Now, I understand at some point there needs to be production.
    Here’s the reality:
    2007
    vs. RHP: .343/.470/.700
    vs. LHP: .308/.390/.462
    2008
    vs. RHP: .279/.389/.532
    vs. LHP: .221/.308/.433
    2009
    vs. RHP: .250/.346/.481
    vs. LHP: .212/.298/.418
    The manager isn’t putting his player in the best position to succeed. And worse, he hasn’t for now the third season. That’s unconscionable. The trends have been going in the wrong direction for too long. But the player maybe be productive if used in the right way. Now he gets heat because his skills have declined, but the manager makes him look much worse than he is. Both of Papi’s doubles have come off of RHP pitching this year…

    Paul from Waltham April 14, 2010, 12:20 pm
  • Sometimes they’re role players who succeed at a key moment or quietly do their jobs well if unspectacularly, but success on some level almost always plays a role.
    My personal exception was Julian Tavarez. I don’t care if he was mediocre, I loved that crazy guy.
    Also, can we can a gamer for the Sox-Twins game? Pedro just hit a 2-run homer.

    Atheose - SF April 14, 2010, 1:14 pm

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