By Christopher Frangolini
Should David Ortiz retire?
This is a question many Red Sox fans, media pundits and players themselves have been pondering.
The Red Sox fan answer has to be “no.” Why would he if he still producing? After all this David Ortiz still looks like the Big Papi that’s led the Sox to three World Series titles.
Even some reporters have begun to question if Ortiz should rethink retirement.
On more than one occasion, reporters have asked Ortiz the simple question, “Are you sure you want to retire?”
It’s a question that Ortiz should rethink.
At 41 years young, Ortiz is hitting .333%, which would be a career-best if he were to continue his dominance (he hit a career-best .332% in 2007). He has 11 homers and 41 RBIs through 41 games played and has 20 doubles. Over a 162 game span (assuming he played all 162), Ortiz would finish with 42 home runs, 162 RBIs and 79 doubles.
But because Ortiz has played in only 41 of the 45 Sox games this season, his 162 game averages would only be a mere 40 home runs 148 RBIs and 72 doubles. He’s on pace to set the all-time doubles record that Earl Webb set in 1931 (67).
What he is doing at his age makes this start to the season even more remarkable.
“What David is doing — it really is incredible to watch daily,” manager John Farrell told NESN.
“What makes David so good in those spots is he never comes out of his approach. His heart rate, I don’t think really elevates that much. “… He’s hitting in those moments with such clarity, and he’s done it so often that he’s extremely confident in those key spots,” Farrell added after an 11th inning Ortiz walk-off double on May 14 against the Astros.
“David, man — when you mention the name, there’s a lot of history, a lot of clutch hits,” first baseman Hanley Ramirez said. “There’s a lot of things, both on and off the field. I’m really happy for him.”
In an age where athletes are tremendously overpaid and play longer than they should, Ortiz wants to go out on top. He wants fans to remember the real Big Papi, not an injury stricken, struggling Ortiz. From his perspective it makes sense to walk away.
As a fan, would you want Ortiz to go down having the greatest season in his career and contend for a World Series or struggle to stay healthy and hit?
If we take another legend in his respective sport and apply it to Ortiz, it may change your mind.
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. But his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons where anything but. He played in only 107 of a possible 246 games and the Lakers went an abysmal 65-181. I know what you’re thinking, they play two completely different sports and playing basketball may be more taxing on your body than swinging a bat three-four times a night. Correct. But the point remains the same, we want to remember the classic athlete that fans admire, not the aging superstar that is a shell of himself and should have hung his cleats up.
Anyways, Ortiz should rethink hard and long about what his future is in Major League Baseball, but that doesn’t make he should play another season.