David Ortiz is playing his last season in baseball, but given the way he’s hustling you’d think he was a rookie trying to prove his worth to the team. To see Ortiz hustle harder than ever is making the Red Sox fun to watch again, especially after two grueling and hopeless seasons in the cellar. What’s even better is seeing Ortiz hustle out of the dugout to stand up for himself after a horrible call by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa, which contributed to the Sox loss to the Yankees in the first game of a three game series in New York.
Last July, John Farrell commented that he was disappointed that he wasn’t seeing Ortiz hustle as hard as he should. I was glad to hear Farrell finally say something, as I too was disappointed in the lack of hustle Ortiz was showing on the base paths last year. He didn’t even attempt to out run groundouts, he seemed to drag his feet to and from the plate, and he always looked angry. But with a .313 batting average, 7 home runs, and 25 RBIs going into May 7th, many in the Red Sox Nation are in awe of Big Papi, who is not only leading the team in home runs, but seems to also be inspiring the rest of the team to play like their lives are on the line. But the best thing about Ortiz right now though is his intolerance for bad calls.
In a Friday night game against the Yankees on May 6th, Ortiz fervently protested a called strike three. Replays and angles show that the pitch was clearly a ball, but umpire Ron Kulpa thought otherwise, leading Ortiz to erupt in anger after returning to the dugout. John Farrell was thrown out too when he interjected himself between Ortiz and Kulpa in an effort to stand up for his designated hitter. Kulpa gave Oritz an arrogant and snide look as he and Farrell left the field, adding insult to injury. “Look, have you seen Miller’s numbers? [ don’t need no help,” Ortiz told The Boston Herald. “[Kulpa was] looking at me like I screwed up. I didn’t screw up.”
Even the most ardent Yankee fan would be hard pressed to agree that it was a strike (who knows though, they aren’t always the brightest). But one thing’s for sure. Seeing Ortiz hustle the way he has been is something that Red Sox fans haven’t seen in years, which is definitely rubbing off on the rest of the team as their bats heat up, too. With each passing day, I grow more confident that the Red Sox will make an appearance in the World Series this year.