Ortiz Declines Ceremony in Tampa

As the regular season dwindles down, David Ortiz experiences his final stops in Major League cities. Each final go-around brings about a new ceremony for Big Papi; creative gifts and giant checks have come home with Ortiz seemingly every road trip. This Sunday, however, Ortiz chose to focus on a more serious matter in his final stop to Tropicana Field: his late friend Jose Fernández.

The baseball world was shaken Sunday morning with news of the death of one of its budding Ortiz declines ceremonyyoung stars, José Fernández of the Miami Marlins. Fernández was one of the best young pitchers in the game, winning the Rookie of the Year in 2013. His meteoric rise often drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, and Clayton Kershaw. The 24-year old Cuban defector had plenty of character outside of baseball, too. He was once imprisoned for trying to leave Cuba and, once he was able to leave, he saved his own mother from drowning on the voyage to America.

Fernández was killed in a boating accident around 3 AM along with two other friends. The news spread around the sports world, effecting not only the Marlins but Miami, as well as all of baseball. In the Red Sox clubhouse, no one was more likely effected than the retiring designated hitter.

Ortiz and Fernández were good friends; the young star idolized Big Papi growing up. Ortiz and Fernández’s friendship was on full display in this summer’s All-Star Game in San Diego. Fernández reportedly told him he’d “groove him” a pitch that he could hit, but instead walked him. The two exchanged laughs and Ortiz even tried to convince him to come to Boston in free agency.

Ortiz Defers The Day To Fernández

Of course Ortiz was stricken with grief as he prepared for his final game in Tampa Bay. Instead of an elaborate on-field ceremony, as has become customary, Ortiz said he’d rather accept his gifts privately, leaving the day to celebrate Fernández. To honor him, he put the initials “JF 16” on his hat. Every team held a moment of silence in memory and Ortiz got emotional in the Red Sox dugout.

As far as his gifts, Ortiz got an oil painting of his 500th home run which he hit in Tampa last September, and 34 handmade cigars. They were presented to him in the bowels of the Trop by Evan Longoria and Chris Archer of the Rays. So, say what you want about these retirement tours and David Ortiz, but he definitely let his class take over this time. For Big Papi, and so many around the MLB, Sunday was a shocking reminder of the fragility of life and he handled it in the classiest way he could have.

Kudos to you, Papi.

ALDS Game 3: Learning from A Loss

 

alds game 3

Tropicana Field, ugh? Courtesy of blogs.suntimes.com

Let’s review what the Red Sox learned during the ALDS Game 3 loss to Tampa at the Trop.

The team does a heck of a lot better at home. Why? Because Fenway Park is a real baseball field, with real grass, and much better lighting. It does not have catwalks, and a dome built for a football or hockey arena. Balls should not bounce off obstructions in the air, over the playing field. The only obstructions should be in foul territory. Those obstructions cause teams to lose.

Clay Buchholz froze up, got too far inside his head in the latter part of the fourth, and then definitely in the fifth inning. TBS cameras showed a shot of him in the dugout while the Red Sox were batting. You could see that he was in head. Then when he went back out for the fifth he just seemed to be throwing more sliders and curves in the high 80 MPH range. Clay lost confidence in his pitch selection. He can’t let that happen. Buchholz is far too good a natural talent to be so hard on his ability to perform.

Again, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew are just not producing. Napoli is still looking to hit balls as hard as humanly possible. Just make good contact like Jacoby Ellsbury. People are all over Ellsbury and his bloopers. He’s making contact and moving people around the bases, this was especially the case in the early innings. Drew just needs to start his swing sooner. I don’t know what to do with this guy. He’s been defensively solid, but he was even off there last night. The middle of the lineup worries me.

Our middle reliever situation needs some switching up. You cannot put Craig Breslow in when the game is tight and the team is behind the eight ball like they were last night. I am not sure if Ryan Dempster is available, but I would like to see if he could provide support in the middle reliever role. He’s always been good for a couple of innings. I also believe Koji Uehara could go for two innings, and I know other fans agree with me here. Uehara should pitch in the eighth and the ninth. It may have helped him physically last night. What happened with Koji last night was unfortunate.

Finally, the fans learned do not touch the sting rays in the outfield tank. This is verboten.