Will Ortiz Actually Retire?

There’s no doubt that David Ortiz is having one of the best seasons of his career. With 9 home runs, 29 RBIs, and a batting average over .320 in the wake of a three game series against the Oakland Athletics, many in the Red Sox nation are asking: Will Ortiz actually retire at the end of the season?

“No, I’m retiring,” Ortiz told ESPN in a tone suggesting that he’s dead set on making his season his last. While he’s onWill Ortiz Actually Retire track to post great numbers this season, probably with an all-star appearance thrown in for good measure, Ortiz wouldn’t be the first Red Sox player to finish his career on a good note. In 1960, at the age of 41, Ted Williams finished the final season of his career in Boston with a .316 batting average and 29 home runs, including a home run in his last at-bat. Even Babe Ruth left Boston with high numbers in 1919 by leading the American League in runs, home runs, and RBIs before going to the New York Yankees. Yes, leaving Boston on a high note seems to be a tradition for seasoned Sox players.

Many who believe that Ortiz is retiring after this season point to the idea that he most likely wants to finish his career on a high note. After all, many players in the Baseball Hall of Fame played a few years too long and their career batting averages took a hit as a result.  On top of wanting to leave on a high note, there’s also the idea that there’s really nothing left for David Ortiz to accomplish. Of course, he could stay on and break Ted William’s team home run record of 521, but that would be a drop in the bucket compared to the accolades he’s already accumulated in his career. Ortiz has three World Series rings, he’s in the 500 Home Run Club, he’ll be a shoe-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021, and his status as a Red Sox legend is already etched in stone.

So when people ask me, “Will Ortiz actually retire?” I’ll say yes, because the man has done his job for Boston and it’s time for him to move on to other things in his life.

Could Ortiz Match Williams In His Final At-Bat?

Few Hall of Famers can say that their final Major League at-bat was a memorable one. Mickey Mantle popped out to Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocello in 1968, who by then was merely a shadow of the player he once was. Babe Ruth, playing his final year for the Boston Braves in 1935, grounded out, a less than stellar ending to a career that had all but turned into an embarrassment (A pinch runner often took Ruth’s place in his last season because he had become too heavy to run). Even our own Carl Yazstrezemski’s final at-bat was uninspiring as he popped out in the bottom of the seventh against the Indians in Ortiz Match Williams1983. Many in the Red Sox Nation are hoping that David Ortiz won’t go the way of Mantle, Ruth, and Yazstremski when he takes his last at bat this season. In fact, I’m hoping he’ll leave the game the same way Ted Williams did, but in the post-season instead  of the regular season.

Ted Williams, a.k.a. the Splendid Splinter, bid adieu to baseball on September 28th, 1960 when he hit a solo home run to center off of Baltimore’s Jack Fisher in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Sox the edge in a 5-4 win. No other Hall of Famer had ever homered in his last at-bat, and none to date have done it since (as far as I know). But that was in a year when the Red Sox weren’t playoff contenders (they finished 7th in the American League with a 65-89 record). So if the Red Sox make the playoffs this season after a two-year hiatus, Ortiz might not only leave the game in a memorable way of his own, but might do so at Fenway Park during the World Series, perhaps with a home run of his own.

Winning the World Series for Boston with a home run is a LONG shot for Ortiz, and many factors would have to align perfectly in order for there to even be a chance of that happening (If Ortiz pulled that off I’d push to have the Baseball Hall of Fame’s five-year waiting period waived so he could be inducted right away). But if the Sox reach the playoffs, then Ortiz will have a chance to reclaim his role as a clutch hitter (he did hit five home runs and batted .400 in fourteen playoff games in 2004, including a game-winning home run in Game 4 of the ALCS). So if Price and Bucholtz throw the heat, Bogaerts hits over .300, and Betts and Bradley Jr. keep playing like the Gold Glove winners that they are, then I think it will be safe to dream about what Big Papi will do in his final at-bat. Whether it will be with a home run or not remains to be seen. But when we’re talking about Big Papi, anything is possible!

No One Should Poke at Sandoval’s Weight

When the Red Sox arrived in Fort Myers last week to begin spring training one thing that almost everyone immediately focused on was Pablo Sandoval’s weight. A less-than-flattering photo showing Sandoval’s gut hanging over his shorts in mid throw flooded social media, making Red Sox fans scowl with concern that Panda’s weight could lead to another poor season. Not only is it unfair to body shame Sandoval, it also contributes absolutely nothing positive to the Red Sox as they prepare for the 2016 season. Red Sox nation should instead throw its own weight behind Panda and the rest of the team in order to avoid a third straight disastrous season and bring another World Series Championship back to Boston.

Sandoval's weight

Sandoval claims that his body weight is now at 17%, down from 23% last season, putting him in the “good” category and above most acceptable levels. If these numbers are true, then the last thing anyone should focus on is ridiculing Sandoval’s weight, especially going into a season where morale is going to be essential for the team. While Sandoval will probably always be on the stockier side, history shows us that weight gain doesn’t always mean it’s all over for a player. Take Babe Ruth for instance.

Ruth faced a similar, yet much more dangerous, scenario in 1925 when his weight ballooned to 260 lbs in the off-season. After supposedly binging on too many sodas and hot dogs before a pre-season game (some suggest alcohol was involved) Ruth was hospitalized for weeks in what became known as “the bellyache heard ’round the world.” Fortunately, the following season Ruth worked hard to shed the weight, after which he would go on to lead the American League in runs, walks, and home runs for the next three seasons. A key factor to keep in mind here is that Ruth was 30 years old at the time he turned it around and lost the excess weight, the same age that Sandoval will turn this year. If history is any indication of what is to come, since Panda is already working hard to stay fit, then the 2016 season could definitely shape up to be one of his best. Early reports from spring training suggest that Sandoval is prepping well for what could become a strong season for him with Red Sox manager John Farrrell stating this week, “His righthanded swing is much more consistent than what we saw at any time last year.”

Sandoval doesn’t need put-downs over his weight. Instead, Sandoval needs encouragement. When he starts to play well then fans need to let him know with cheers. Sandoval needs to know that we have confidence in him (I do). A little encouragement can go a very long way and in Sandoval’s case, he’ll need all he can get. Cheers, not finger pointing, is what will help Panda and the Sox capture another World Series title.