No One Will Ever Replace Ortiz

Who will replace David Ortiz? It’s a burning question fans in Red Sox Nation have been asking since “Big Papi” officially retired last October. Ortiz gave so much to the Red Sox over the course of his career, including three World Series Championships. Perhaps more importantly, he gave the city hope in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. Since the early 2000s, Ortiz was a staple in the Red Sox lineup. But it’s time for those who are searching for his replacement to face facts: No one is going to replace Ortiz.

It is true that the Red Sox now have a tremendous amount of young potential. Mookiereplace ortiz Betts nabbed himself a Gold Glove. Xander Bogaerts proved himself as an offensive and defensive asset. Jackie Bradley Jr. finally found his stride at the plate. Andrew Benintendi is poised to take over left field, a position once held by Red Sox legend Ted Williams. There’s no doubt they will soon be a part of another World Series team. None of these players, however, will replace Ortiz.

Ortiz’s love for Boston is what makes him so famous and beloved. Ortiz is not pompous. He never let his teammates slack off. He is a source of pride for all of Boston. Many Hall of Famers can’t claim that status. In fact, Ortiz stands alongside Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Carl Yastrzemski not only as Red Sox legends, but as legends of the game. They weren’t just players who hit .300, accumulated home runs, and led their own teams to the World Series. Like these men, Ortiz came through in clutch situations to win. Who can forget the 2013 ALCS when he smacked that home run into the bullpen?

When Ortiz stood before the Fenway faithful and declared “This is out f–king city!” in the wake of the marathon bombings, he became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance in a time of uncertainty. Ortiz’s words gave Bostonians, as well as Americans, the shot in the arm that it needed in the wake of such tragedy.

Like Williams and Yastrzemski Before Him, No One Will Replace Ortiz

I spoke to former Red Sox second baseman Rico Petrocelli last month for an article I’m writing about Carl Yastrzemski. He discussed the pressure Yastrzemski faced when he took Ted Williams’ place in left field. Despite this task, Yaz went on to have a distinguished career of his own. Yaz carved out his own legendary place in Red Sox history and no one can replace him. The same principle applies to David Ortiz.

So stop looking at the upcoming trade deadlines for Ortiz’s replacement. He’s not coming. Like Williams and Yastrzemski before him, no one can replace Ortiz.

Did Ted Williams Hit the Longest Fenway HR?

Red Sox fans know the story. On June 9th 1946, Ted Williams hit a home run off of Detroit’s Fred Hutchinson that traveled 502 feet. The ball hit the head of a fan named Joseph A. Boucher, a construction engineer from Albany, New York. That ball landed in Row 37, Seat 21 of Section 42 in the right field bleachers, now recognized with a red seat. So while Ted Williams holds the record for hitting the longest Fenway HR, some don’t believe it traveled that far. One of those people is David Ortiz.

“I don’t think anyone has ever hit one there,” Ortiz told The Boston Globe in a July 2015Longest Fenway HR interview. “I went up there and sat there one time. That’s far, brother.”

He’s right. It’s much farther than people think it is, MUCH farther. Anyone who has ventured up to the red seat knows what I’m talking about. So how did Ted Williams, who weighed 25 pounds less than Ortiz, hit a home run that far? According to Greg Rybarczyk of Hittrackeronline.com, Ted Williams not only hit the ball that far, but he estimates that the ball would have gone another 28 feet after impact. That’s a total of 530 feet. Still, Ortiz doesn’t buy it.

“Listen, do you see the No. 1 [Bobby Doerr’s retired uniform number on the façade above the right field grandstand]?” Ortiz added in his July 2015 Boston Globe interview. “I hit that one time. You know how far it is to that No. 1 from the plate? Very far. And you know how far that red seat is from the No. 1? It’s 25 rows up still.” Alan M. Nathan, a Professor Emeritus of Physics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stated that the ball would have traveled 440 feet without any wind that day. The wind traveled at 19-24 mph from the west the day Williams hit the home run, so it’s very possible that it could have carried the ball father. Although Ortiz still doesn’t buy it, there’s one thing he may not be considering.

Park Modifications Make It Difficult to Break Longest Fenway HR

Fenway Park has seen many changes since 1946. There are more seats than ever before, electronic scoreboards have been added in the outfield areas, and more tall buildings now surround Fenway Park. There’s no doubt that these factors cut down on wind that would increase a player’s chances of hitting a home run. It’s understandable that Sox fans won’t see long home runs like the one Williams hit that day in 1946.

So did Ted Williams hit the longest Fenway HR? Probably. Did the wind factor into it? Probably. Will David Ortiz hit a home run farther than Williams before he retires?

Probably not.

Xander Bogaerts Sinks Rays By Himself

On the night the Red Sox finally got to honor David Ortiz in front of the Fenway Faithful for hitting 500 home runs, it wasn’t David Ortiz providing the heroics—it was Xander Bogaerts. One of the team’s young guns, Xander Bogaerts provided the fireworks on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Bogaerts provided an 8th inning grand slam last night, which gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead and proved to be the game-winning hit. Bogaerts ended up with 5 RBI’s in a victory that moved the Red Sox into 4th place in the AL East ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Say what you will about the team’s struggles as a whole, but Xander Bogaerts has beenXander Bogaerts one of the most consistent players this season, with a .323 average on the season, 7 home runs and 78 RBI’s this season. He also has a chance at 200 hits if he finishes this year strong. Currently, Xander sits at 182 hits with 13 games left in the season, so it’s very doable if he continues to hit like he has been. Will he do it? Who knows, but again, Bogaerts has been one of the most consistent players on the team this season. He also should have been an All-Star, but that’s a whole other rant for another time.

More importantly, Xander Bogaerts’ heroics last night lifted the team out of last place by a half game for the first time in what feels like forever. They currently are a half game ahead of the Rays with 3 more games at Fenway to look forward to before hosting the Orioles for 3 at home to close out their final home stand of the season. They will cap off their sseason on the road with 3 against the New York Yankees followed by 4 against the Cleveland Indians to wrap up the 2015 season.

While 2015 is a lost cause, and has been for some time, Xander Bogaerts and the rest of the team’s young core, are giving fans plenty to look forward to next season. It seems that this team is a few good pieces away from being legit contenders in 2016, thanks to the young guys. The team needs to get an ace or 2 and reinforce the bullpen, but that’s about it. They’ve got some good weapons on offense at the moment, but their pitching has been the Achilles heel all year.

Make no mistake, though: The team is so close to being a contender, and it’s thanks in large part to their rising star, Xander Bogaerts.