Tuesday, May 17, 2011

David Ortiz Appreciation: Part 1.


Does everyone remember when David Ortiz was first brought to Boston? No? Well then let me take you back.

Gordan Edes, Boston Globe, January 21, 2003:
David Ortiz passed a physical in Boston Saturday and has agreed to a one-year deal for a sum in the vicinity of $1 million. Ortiz, a lefthanded hitter, batted .272 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs, and 75 RBIs last season for the Twins, numbers comparable to those posted by Brian Daubach. But with Daubach arbitration-eligible, the Sox elected to sign the 27-year-old Ortiz, who was released by the Twins in December.

The story goes that David was having dinner at a restaurant in The Dominican Republic when he ran into Red Sox' ace Pedro Martinez. The two spoke for a bit and Ortiz told Pedro that he was released by Minnesota and was available. After the dinner Pedro quickly called the Red Sox front office and lobbied for them to sign Ortiz.

At the start of the season David Ortiz was struggling. He hit .212 with 1 HR and 6 RBI's in the month of April and The Red Sox were 2 games over .500. Even though Ortiz wasn't making much the fans were starting to grow tired of Ortiz.

Ortiz had a more productive May as his average raised to .333 and he posted 8 doubles. The month was also more successful for the team as a whole, The Red Sox were 10-5 for the month and were 7 games over .500.

June was even better for Ortiz as he started to rake in the RBI's, but David still wasn't showing the HR's. Through 53 games David had only hit 4 homers. No one was complaining about his production because all the other numbers were there, but fans were starting to ponder how good this guy could be.

In July Red Sox fans would find out just who David Ortiz was. David would hit 8 HR's and triple his season total, he would also continue to be an RBI machine. The 27 year old Ortiz was now hitting .288 with 12 home runs and 54 RBI's. By season's end The Red Sox would be heading into the Playoffs as The Wildcard. Boston now had a 3-Headed Monster of Garciaparra, Ramirez, and Ortiz. Add in 3x Cy Young Award Winner Pedro Martinez and it seemed like The '03 Red Sox were a team of destiny... but we all know what happened.

In 2004 David Ortiz entered the season with high expectations, and boy did he live up to them. At the All-Star break Ortiz was hitting .305 with 23 HR's and 78 RBI's, that was his season totals just 2 years earlier. By season's end The Red Sox would have 2 players, Ortiz and Ramirez, with 40 HR's and 140 RBI's. Boston entered the postseason with revenge on their minds.

After a 1st round sweep with Anaheim, The Red Sox found themselves in the deepest hole in sports. They were down 3-0 against the New York Yankees, in MLB history no team had ever come back from that deficit. Down 2-0 in the 5th inning of an elimination game Boston was seemingly playing for just pride. Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI single before Ramirez walked to get the bases loaded, Ortiz hit a double to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. The 6th inning would have New York score 2 more, then Boston would tie it in the bottom of the 9th, The Fenway Faithful were headed to overtime. In the bottom of the twelfth with no outs and Ramirez on first, David Ortiz would hit a walk off 2 Run HR to save The Red Sox collective life. The game ended at 1:22 AM.

16 hours later Boston and New York would play Game 5, and somehow it would match the drama of the night before. Down by 2 in the 8th David Ortiz stepped to the plate with no outs and homers to cut the lead in half. The rest of the lineup would play a little small ball to get it tied for extra innings. Bottom of the 14 came and the game was still tied... and guess who was due up? Is this getting old yet? With two outs and two on David Ortiz would do it again, a single to center field scores Damon and the series heads back to The Bronx.

Following a convincing Game 6 victory Boston would show up to Game 7 with confidence. Boston would homer 4 times, including one by Ortiz, and hammer the Yankees to a 10-4 victory. The Red Sox were headed back to the World Series, but they already knew that the leagues top 2 teams just played. Boston would sweep St. Louis for the first World Championship since 1918. David Ortiz was the MVP of the series with New York, the best series comeback in Baseball history.

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