We were all watching something superhuman during the 2013 World Series and every baseball fan should honor David Ortiz for it.
As much as there’s been a steroid culture in professional sports, what has become even more detrimental is the culture of tearing down our heroes and tossing them aside. Whether the accusations have been right or wrong, the entire sport of baseball and the legends at its foundation as America’s sport melt away, revealing something our kids will forget.
Baseball’s Greatest Players and Memories
Baseball doesn’t exist without its legends. From Bill Buckner’s 1986 World Series series-ending error to Joe Carter’s series-winning bomb off Mitch Williams, we all remember this sport because of a single play. The list goes on with Schilling’s bloody sock, Roger Maris’ 61st home run, Bucky Dent’s tie-breaker, Kirk Gibson’s walk-off, Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the playoffs.
Baseball history is littered with these stories. We still talk about the “shot heard ’round the world” more than 60 years later, and its because these stories are our folklore.
Beyond those historic moments, there are those players who rise above the sport, who’s legends reach a level we rarely ever see.
These players aren’t defined by the sport — they’ve become ambassadors of the sport. Reggie Jackson’s reign as “Mr. October” stands tallest here. Others like Nolan Ryan and his unbelievable seven no-hitters or Cal Ripken’s 2,131 iron man streak will live on for decades the way war heroes used to: through their stories.
Before the steroid era, we craved these stories. After Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, Ryan Braun, and everyone else, it’s hard to believe in heroes anymore.
Big Papi is the Greatest MLB Postseason Performer Ever
The greatest DH ever? The most beloved Boston athlete of all time?
They’re both titles he’s earned, but to call him the greatest MLB Postseason performer of all time and we’d face a mountain of opposition from the purists. Still, his stats speak for themselves:
- 2004 Postseason: .409 BA with five home runs, 23 RBI
- 2007 Postseason: .370 BA with three home runs, 10 RBI
- 2013 World Series: .688 BA with two home runs, 6 RBI + 8 walks
- Lifetime Postseason: .296 BA with seventeen home runs, 60 RBI (81 games)
- Lifetime World Series: .465 BA with three home runs, 14 RBI (13 games)
This doesn’t even include his most clutch performances:
- 2004 ALCS: walk-off home run eliminating the Angels
- 2004 ALCS: walk-off home run to beat the Yankees and start the greatest comeback ever
- 2004 ALCS: walk-off home run to beat the Yankees and even the series 3-3
- 2013 ALCS: game-tying grand slam against the Tigers
- 2013 World Series: Hit two home runs against the Cardinals (well one since Beltran robbed him of one)
Comparing David Ortiz to Reggie Jackson
Big Papi trumps Mr October in many areas:
- World Series: .455/3/14 vs. .357/10/24
- Postseason: .295/17/60 vs. .278/18/48
He may not have had the three home run game that defined baseball in the 1970’s, but Big Papi likely brings out just as much hate in New York as that Mr October moment does joy.
Leave the Steroid Era Behind and Enjoy America’s Pastime
We’ve all been burned by this game.
Barry Bonds could have been the greatest ever, the promise of Alex Rodriguez was wasted. The home run tally battles of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa saved baseball, but also ruined it.
As a lifelong Expos fan I understand how it’s easy to turn your back on the sport and say you’re through with it. It’s just as easy to never again believe in any good coming of the reign of Bud Selig. But when we see true champion and a once-in-a-lifetime clutch performer like David Ortiz, you give him what’s due. This is why we love baseball, this is why we fell in love with it and this is why generations to come will, too.
While everyone is arguing LeBron James’ ‘clutch gene’ and Peyton Manning’s inability to win as many big games as his brother, here we had the honor of watching one of the greatest World Series performances of all time. Yes, he failed a random test in 2003, and while speculation can exist in each and every one of us because of it, the reality is that he’s never failed another since and has become a better performer as he’s aged.
To me, David Ortiz and Mariano Rivera will forever be linked. Both for their leading roles in the greatest Postseason scripts ever written and because they both were a on a level that no one else could touch when it was needed of them most. Let’s give him the same honor and respect that Mo received in every stadium and living room this year. Let’s give ourselves the right to believe in the creation of another true legend of baseball.
David Ortiz has earned it.
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