Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 347: David Oritz... Get Over Yourself.

There's a pretty telling article written by Rob Bradford on today where Rob sits down with David Ortiz. Ortiz is evidently feeling some pressure to perform these days. At 38 years old, the Red Sox still continue to put an enormous amount of faith and trust into Ortiz's ability to still crush the ball and make opposing pitchers very afraid. That's why they also keep on paying him a pretty hefty salary for his designated hitter services—something that most teams don't do anymore.

Lately, Big Papi has been quite vocal about his current contract status. He's entering the final year of a two-year, $30 million contract and is concerned that if he doesn't come to some kind of agreement with the team either during spring training or early in the season, the front office's lack of respect is going to force him to entertain other offers. As a fan, I despise public contract negotiations and disputes and whining. One side of me says just pay the guy what he wants—he's not going to be playing for that much longer. But the other side of me just wants the team to call his bluff and not bow to his demands.

So back to this article that Bradford wrote... if you don't feel like reading it, the gist is that Ortiz feels like the Red Sox are not doing anything to protect him in the line up. He's not getting ample opportunity to hit the ball. Last season, he was intentionally walked a career high 27 times in the regular season due mainly to the fact that there wasn't a big deep ball threat behind him. Or in front of him for that matter.
"It's not always going to be about me. I saw last year. Last year, game on the line, late in the game, go to first base. They pitch around you to see if you chase. Nope? Go to first base. I've been through that since Day 1. But last year was even more different. How long am I going to be able to do what I do and be that locked? I don't know. It wears you out -- in my case, I know I do nothing but hit, but to stay that focused and not try to get out of the strike zone."
It sounds to me like maybe Ortiz is setting us up for something. Maybe if he voices his worries about not having more threatening batters around him, when he fails, it won't be his fault. Or how about this? I think this is yet another ploy in his contract negotiations. The team puts so much pressure on him as a player and a leader to carry this team that if they don't back that up with a hefty raise, maybe he'll get a little tired in July, pull a Manny and take a couple days off.
"I'll give it a try, but I don't think there's a baseball player that has lived through this pressure at my age. Think about it. Guys my age are supposed to be complementary players. Nobody signs guys my age to be 'The Man.' If you look at every team, 'The Man' are guys in their prime. Because it's hard. It's hard. I don't take anything for granted. I go at it every day. But living through the pressure, having to be the man every day, at this stage, when everybody is asking you when you're going to retire ..."
If I were his teammates, I think I would take offense to this interview. He has basically said that he's the only guy out of the nine that can produce—that all the pressure is on him. Ok... so maybe that was true in the World Series last year where he essentially carried the team by batting a staggering .688 but bitch, please... let's not get too big for your already too big britches.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe I'm being too hard on him. Maybe I'm reading too far into this recent diatribe. Or maybe I'm just tired of all the money talk in sports and these grown men who play for a living and make millions of dollars doing it, just bitch and whine over money and respect. (I wonder if that would work for me?)

I still love the guy and if anything, the last 11 seasons have been more enjoyable because of him. Except 2012—there was absolutely nothing enjoyable about that season.

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