JAYS FROM THE COUCH SAYS FAREWELL TO RED SOX GREAT DAVID ORTIZ BEFORE HIS FINAL START IN TORONTO.
The farewell tour in sports has been around for a long time, but in the past few seasons, it’s become glorified. Every team held a special ceremony when Yankees legendary shortstop Derek Jeter came into town for his last time. Jeter would remain in the lineup for 145 games that season, despite finishing the season with a -0.1WAR. That 2014 season, the Yankees would win the final seven games, and finish only a half game back in the wild card. One has to think, where the Yankees would have finished if that season if they hadn’t inserted Jeter into the lineup for the sake of his farewell tour.
This NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant had his farewell tour after 20 seasons in the NBA, which saw him win five titles. Bryant was always obsessed with winning, always regarded as the hardest worker in the league, and was chasing that elusive sixth title to tie Michael Jordan. Bryant would struggle just like Jeter, but even worse, his team was awful. The Lakers would finish with one of the worst records in the NBA this season. Bryant’s poor play, mixed with his team losing was a cause for people to point their fingers at Bryant for not stepping down into a different role, hoping Bryant would take fewer shots, and get his younger players involved.
At the beginning of the 2016 MLB season, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz announced this was his final season. Ortiz hadn’t had a drop off in his numbers the previous seasons, but his body just wasn’t holding up to the stresses of a 162 game season. Ortiz hasn’t hindered his team the way Jeter and Bryant did, Ortiz is truly going out in style.
This season, Ortiz is having a career year. Batting .319/.406/.624, and posting his highest WAR at 3.8 since the 2009 season. Not only is Ortiz succeeding, but so is his team who are currently leading the AL East by a game over the Blue Jays heading into the final month of the season.
Yesterday at the Rogers Centre, there were Blue Jays fans holding a sign reading “Sorry to see you leave, happy to see you go.” The memory Jays fans will remember the most about Ortiz, is him crushing ball after ball to the 200 level in right field, as a wave of groans would run through the stadium and fans would watch Big Papi slowly trot the bases for one of his 534 career home runs. Blue Jays fans have a good reason to roll their eyes when he walks up to the plate. Ortiz has played a total of 247 time against the Blue Jays, 123 of those games being in the Rogers Centre. When playing in Toronto, he would have an amazing 40 home runs, and 105 runs batted in, getting on base 35% of the time.
It’s hard for fans from a rival team to appreciate a farewell tour as good as this, but to his city of Boston, he is a hero. Ortiz was one of the cornerstone pieces in the 2004 season, when the Red Sox would sweep the St. Louis Cardinals and end an 86 year World Series drought for the Red Sox. Ortiz wouldn’t stop there, he would help the Red Sox win two more World Series titles in 2007 and in 2013.
Ortiz has been a Hall of Fame player on and off the field, representing the city of Boston and becoming one of the cities best athletes to ever wear a Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, or Bruins uniform. Not only did he bring the city of Boston three titles, but he also formed the “David Ortiz Children Fund”, and gave the city a polarizing speech after tragedy struck in the Boston Marathon bombing. Toronto fans may be happy they never have to see David Ortiz again, but players going out on a strong note in their legendary careers should be celebrated. Thanks, Big Papi.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Spencer Redmond is a Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His loves in life are the NBA, MLB, Stats, and his dog Parker.