David Ortiz wants Opening Day to be a national holiday.
After retiring in 2016, the 42-year-old says he will be chilling and grilling with Kingsford for the second straight year while his former team takes the diamond on March 29 to kick off the upcoming baseball season.
“It’s too bad I’m not playing this Opening Day because I’m excited,” Ortiz told Boston.com. “It’s been more than 50 years since all 30 teams have been able to play on the same day. I guess I’m going to enjoy it more than [when] I was playing.”
The three-time World Series champion said he’s looking forward to spending the day watching different teams across the league compete — including the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, of course — and wishes others could do the same.
“It’s perfect for me, and I think it should be perfect for everybody,” he said. “It should be a national holiday, that day. Everybody should get a day off from work, from school, from everything and focus on baseball because we don’t know when the next time all 30 teams are going to be playing on the same day.”
While he’s happy to be partaking in the festivities from the comfort of his Miami home, Ortiz said nothing can compare to the emotions of taking the field for the first time each season.
“As a player, you always are excited about it,” he said. “To be a part of it, to be on the roster, to be in the Opening Day lineup, it’s something that’s irreplaceable.”
He still has no plans to return to action, but the fan favorite hasn’t strayed very far from the sport. Ortiz recently spent some time in Fort Myers, Florida, with the Sox during spring training and also was a member of the FOX Sports playoff broadcast team last season.
His postseason coverage of the Red Sox lasted just one series, as Boston once again lost in the ALDS. Does he expect to see anything different this year?
Although he is strongly encouraged by the addition of designated hitter J.D. Martinez — and the team’s back-to-back division titles — Ortiz believes the Yankees are the ones to beat in 2018.
“They pretty much stacked the lineup with more power,” he said. “I don’t think anyone else in the division can compete with that.”
The retired slugger insists it’s not necessarily a bad thing the Red Sox aren’t the favorites to win the AL East. New York’s new squad is up against some rather lofty expectations, as the tandem of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — who combined for 100-plus homers (on different teams) last season — is anticipated to form quite a formidable threat at the plate.
That attention puts Boston in a favorable position, according to Ortiz.
“I think the Red Sox are the one team that, as an underdog, is going to be out there exceeding expectations more than usual,” he said.
With the focus shifted toward their rivals, Ortiz recommends the Sox concentrate on becoming a ball club that “gives a hard time to anyone that comes to town.” Incorporating Martinez into the lineup will be a huge plus, in his opinion, because the 30-year-old will provide not only power but also balance.
“The Red Sox always need that one guy in the middle of the lineup who creates a balance by taking a lot of pressure off the top and bottom of the lineup,” Ortiz said. “And J.D. is that one guy.”