Look I love Big Papi just as much as the next guy, and I believe that he deserves to have his number retired. I just don't like how it's happening so soon. But I really do love David Ortiz. He's extremely responsibly
for why I fell in love with baseball.
I didn't really care about baseball until I was like 11. I liked X-games sports, and kind of was just really getting into team sports. My earliest memories of Boston sports were the Patriots Super Bowl 36 playoff run and the 01-02 Celtics making the Eastern Conference Finals. Of the four Boston teams the Red Sox were the last one that I became a true fan of. The first Red Sox games I can truly remember watching were in 2003, David's first season with the Sox. I became instantly hooked from that "Cowboy Up" '03 team. We all know how that ended, and what happened the following year. The Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918. Without David Ortiz and his postseason heroics who knows, maybe the Curse of the Bambino is still a thing? Sometimes I feel guilty that The Red Sox won the World Series in just my 2nd year of genuinely caring about them. People had been waiting their entire lives, and here I am some chubby 7th grader getting to experience something millions of Red Sox fans never got to witness.
I had never known the Red Sox without Big Papi. From 2003-2016 from when I was 11 to 24 he was always there. Guys had come and gone on the Sox. Players I loved like Pedro, Tek, Millar, Manny, Youk, Mike Lowell, Nava, Pap just to name a few, but David was the one constant. To me he is the most important player in Red Sox history. If you want to say guys like Ted Williams and Yaz who played the field were better I have no issue with that, but nobody did more for the Red Sox as a brand than David Ortiz. He's the only person to be a part of their 3 World Series wins of the 21st century. He changed the culture of the Red Sox.
So I made it my personal mission last year to see Papi play as many times as I possibly could. I think I got to 5 games last year, including my first at Yankee Stadium. I was lucky enough to make it to Papi's final regular season home game last year. While the game sucked, the Sox lost, and Papi had a pretty bad showing at the plate it was just awesome to be there for the ceremony to see all the great former Red Sox come out to say goodbye. As some who who fancies himself as one of the biggest Sox fans around I felt like I had to be there to pay my respects and say goodbye to one of the most important players in Red Sox history.
Which brings me to my issue with what the Red Sox are doing. While I wholeheartedly agree that David Ortiz deserves his number to be retired and I do believe he belongs in Cooperstown, I just think it's all happening a little too soon. What's the rush? To me it just feels like another John Henry money grab. David hasn't even been retired a full calendar year yet and they're already bringing him back to Fenway to make a whole spectacle out of him. I think they should wait at least a full season. The Yankees waited over two full seasons to retire Derek Jeter's number, and made a whole night about his return. I think the Sox should've followed that blueprint. While the talks of Papi making a comeback have died down I just think this team needs to build it's own identity and sort of break away from Papi. They need to find out who they are without him. We've seen all season the struggles they've had without him in the lineup. They sure could use his bat. The last thing I think they need is some idiot reporters bringing up talks of a Papi comeback this weekend when he's back in Boston. The 2017 team needs their own identity.
Fans need more time away from him too to really appreciate what he meant to the team. Time apart makes you miss something and appreciate things more. It's like when you or your friends go away for college and you make a whole big deal about how you're gonna do your own thing, then come visit them in early September. It won't mean as much, you just saw each other like 3 weeks ago, you gotta wait until Thanksgiving. Then you have that "I haven't seen you in 3 months" hug and get to catch up on everything. What are you really going to catch up on after not seeing each other for 3 weeks? You're supposed to be out there making new friends and meeting new people, not just going back to your same old friends, doing the same shit you always did.
Same goes here, we just saw Papi and had a huge production of his final season all year long. By the end it was kind of exhausting, and tbh I think down the stretch led to their horrible play to end the season which led to their early exit in the playoffs. To me this just feels rushed and that the Red Sox just cannot wait to pounce on another opportunity to make a quick buck. Why else would they do this on a random Friday game against the Angels? The Angels don't matter and they're trying to sell more tickets. What else are they trying to do? Rub salt in the wound from Papi's walk off ALDS ending HR against the Halos from 04?
I just don't see the need to this so suddenly. It feels rushed, it feels forced. I think if the Red Sox waited a year it would create even more build up and more buzz around the night. Fenway is going to go crazy for David tonight, but if they just waited it would be even better.