The wonder of it all

September 22nd, 2006 → 11:48 am @ // No Comments

Yesterday afternoon, I took advantage of the fact that I’m in Boston for a few days to catch up with some folks at Fenway. The conversation, as it naturally does, ended up on David Ortiz; I expressed some concern for how he’d fare against Johan Santana, a.k.a. the left-handed Pedro Martinez, circa 1999. (Going into last night’s game, Ortiz was 0-6 with 3 Ks against JS.) Not to worry, I was told: Papi has gotten so good at recongizing change-ups — and not swinging at them — that he’ll just lay off those and wait for something he can hit.

He got that something with the first pitch he saw, showing once again the extent to which Ortiz has become a smart hitter and not just a good one. He’s almost Williams-esque in his desire to wait for his pitch. (OK, fine: not quite Williams-esque. But very good.) He’s Bird-esque is his ability to rise to the moment. And he remains a stone-cold pimp; when talking with the guy who caught his #51, he inquired as to whether the dude was married. Told he was not, Ortiz said he’d soon have two girlfriends. At least.

As an aside, the at-bat that resulted in Ortiz’s second homer of the night — in the seventh inning, off of Matt Guerrier — reminded me a little of the at-bat in the 14th inning of Game 5 of the ’04 ALCS…you know, the one where he had a walk-off single off of Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza got ahead of Ortiz early on, while Guerrier started Ortiz off with three balls, but after swinging through on 3-0, Ortiz fouled off four straight pitches before launching his rocket to deep center. In one game, we got to witness history and also were given a clinic in the ways in which Papi has improved as a hitter: he can handle lefties and he can spoil pitches until he gets one he can handle.

The frenzied adulation of last night is why Fenway’s remaining five games will be electric and exciting: every night (or afternoon), fans have a chance to witness history. (And to compute the chances you’ll get a free, personalized copy of Feeding the Monster by winning the Big Papi prediction contest. Ortiz’s HR+RBI total is currently 184, and there are nine games left…) Even the Boston media is treating the games themselves as if they’re sideshows; in today’s Globe writeup, the game is barely described; Ortiz, needless to say, is given plenty of ink.

(Speaking of games getting short shrift, Josh Beckett has seen two of his better pitching performances of the year be relegated to second fiddle status: his 7 innings of 2-run ball against the Mets was overshadowed by Pedro’s return to Fenway, and last night’s 8-inning shutout was more or less ignored b/c of Ortiz.)

Post Categories: David Ortiz & Josh Beckett

2 Comments → “The wonder of it all”

  1. Ogie Oglethorpe

    17 years ago

    Has anybody noticed that Beckett has started to pitch like the front office expected him to since we fell out of contention? I hope it is due to him settling and getting acclimated as opposed to not feeling the pressure.


  2. maineiac

    17 years ago

    No doubt about it, Papi was in his groove on that night. My only worry is that with Manny continuing to be out of the lineup, that Papi will get less and less to hit. The unmentioned additional bright spot of the game was Lowell hitting one out in the game (and another last night). I was surprised the Sox moved Lowell to batting 5th and having Youk bat 4th in Toronto.

    Being at Thursday’s game and the total postive vibes there, made me forget much of the gloominess to the end of the season.

    Keep it up Papi. Can’t wait to see the Oct. 1 game for the final tally.


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