ANAHEIM--Every time he walked near the dugout finishing his home run round on the nice, breezy summer night at Angel Stadium, the crowds were as wild and terrifying as the craziest attractions at Disneyland.
Parts of the site cheered as others booed David Ortiz, the once-sleazy and deceitful slugger who addressed at length during a press conference his bewilderment of how he tested positive during the league’s 2003 drug testing survey. In truth, given the massive homers that sailed over the walls in Southern California, he’s now steroid-free and authentic in every at-bat by lofting surging shots out of the ballpark with the Steroid Era gradually fading.
All I know is he’s ultimately a charismatic and adorable superstar in Boston, wildly cheered in front of a desirous crowd that sells out at the cozy and traditional confines of Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark currently active. However, much of last season he was a fallen star, disdained when caught for dragging down purity and deceiving the game using performance-enhancing drugs.
Few, if any, trusted the fraudulent so-called Big Papi, though supportive fans at home applauded Ortiz as if he hadn’t committed a shameful crime. But as of recently, he’s no longer the careless saboteur that sadly stained Boston’s World Series pennants, he’s no longer the criminal of baseball, and he’s no longer accused for tainting the Red Sox triumphant moments.
In the beginning of his revelations, he was disliked and ripped heavily for buying supplements and vitamins over the counter, smudging his reputation and spotless batting averages that vastly declined when the accusations developed. Maybe he wasn’t the Big Papi we were familiar with months ago. Maybe he was Big Slumpi, right?
Back then, we saw a disillusioned slugger gripe frequently at the press for criticizing his inefficient batting average and lowly performance. Back then, we saw the bitterness of a poisonous designated hitter with limiting struggles, after he finished the month of April with a .143 batting average, .238 on-base percentage, and only one homer and four RBIs. If you ever wondered about the implications of his languishing capacities, he was propagated as a stigma in baseball.
This is a game of momentum and parity, a game that requires much patience and self-discipline during at-bats. The biggest story in baseball is obviously the sudden improvement and reproduction of Ortiz, who had the befitting mechanics in the annual All-Star Home Run Derby Monday night. He blasted 11 homers in the final round for a total of 32 in the festivities.
In the end, he pulled off a vital comeback with a 13-homer second round to ultimately defeat runner-up Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins. It all started with Milwaukee’s Corey Hart, whose blazing long ball soared over the left-center field wall as he compiled 13 homers in the early rounds to lead all participants.
But usually, if you haven’t noticed, participants lose mechanics, a groove, and hits lacking power following the Derby. All this could obviously lift the assurance of Ortiz, and then, he could uplift the Red Sox to potentially a surge in the second-half of the regular season as they aggressively chase for the pennant.
With all the hyperbolic tension, he has acted like a prima donna, he has cried like a baby for his porous swinging, and he has stuck out more than any other batter to hear all the ridiculing and criticism. The outrage easily led Big Papi to believe that fans had personally betrayed and scorned him, devastated by his fraud and phoniness. Here we are a year later, and he’s one again an admirable slugger in the game, forgetting about the erratic or pseudo home runs and clutch shots in the late innings.
Maybe he was a sham no one trusted and lost all credibility while remaining vague about his substance use, but he represented the Red Sox by capping the honors in the Derby and possibly increased the chances of starting the second half on a hitting streak. Maybe he was the biggest disappointment in the game, but he was the biggest star in the All-Star event and remorseful of his diabolical sins.
This time, he validates all the intangibles it takes to polish as a productive hitter at nearly every at-bat and has amassed hits in a resurrection. In contrast, he once ranked 45th among AL players in OPS, but he now currently stands at sixth and has been a factor in Boston’s overall progress. Most obviously, the Red Sox have greatly outplayed their most hated rivals, the Yankees.
That is, of course, when Big Papi has competent appearances at the plate. And rightfully, he lofted the trophy featuring two crossed bats, dedicating a wondrous moment to former Major League pitcher Jose Lima, a Dominican Republic native who died when paramedics discovered him in cardiac arrest at his Southern California home in May.
“This is my fourth time, so I'm just kind of used to the experience,” Ortiz said. “I wanted to come here and make sure the fans enjoy what we do.”
“I’ve been dealing with so many things the past few years,” Ortiz said. “Coming back here (to another All-Star game), I want to thank the players for giving me the opportunity to be here. This is a job that we have, but it’s called a game. That’s what I try to do during the season—have fun with my teammates and make sure everything goes the right way.”
There’s no need for us to feel disappointed or bitter of Big Papi. The fallacies unquestionably were unexpected from a player who once said that he was tired of a sport sullied by performance-enhancers and had a solution for more severe punishment. He clearly believed that all players in the majors should have been tested three or four times a year, and banned for testing positive of substances.
Unfortunately, he was one of those wicked drug users, but he was also one of those beloved and premier sluggers in the game. With the horrible beginning to the regular season, Red Sox manager Terry Francona had options of juggling his batting lineup and benching Ortiz against lefties or even summon him to pinch hit in late-inning situations.
For a short moment, he had continued his struggles by hitting three-for-33 in June. In other words, he was worse than a Little Leaguer and swung desperately at anything thrown in the strike zone. But then, he batted .480 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in a seven-game stint to finish off the dreadful start. And he’s currently seeing the ball superbly. It was convincing evidence in the slugfest. You saw it with your own two eyes.
Once again, he’s the most dangerous designated hitter in the American League.
If I were you, I'd encourage your team to walk him.