As long as we’re making rash judgments, the Pittsburgh Pirates are clearly on their way to baseball immortality. What’s wrong with the Dodgas?
Edgar Renteria – batting .727 – had five hits yesterday for San Francisco, unmistakably en route to the NL MVP Award with a record-breaking batting average. Why can’t we…
Then there’s the most pressing issue in the Boston headlines this month (aside from when we’ll get our next stalkerish glimpse of Tom Brady and family), the Mike Lowell-David Ortiz debate, which after just three games over a four-day period has already reached a hysteria not seen since 4th-and-2.
Ortiz drove in Boston’s lone run last night before Jonathan Papelbon went and assured us a full day of talk radio callers butchering setup man Danny’s surname, but the DH is still facing the heat from the Mike Lowell Fan Club. Either the temperature yesterday truly made everyone believe that we’re in an August pennant race, or we’ve reverted a bit back to the days of yore, when Sox fans fretted and analyzed every little nuance of the team before Fenway Park became a sing-a-long amusement park.
Maybe that’s the good that can be taken out of all this. For all the talk about how boring this Theo Epstein version of the Robot Nine was going to be, we’ve already got player controversy, sniping in the clubhouse, and the unsolved mystery as to how Jed Lowrie picked up mono. The “alternative” hats get Neil Diamond to kick things off, the rest of us receive an old-fashioned Red Sox soap opera.
Really I was looking forward to seeing how this one played out and seeing which player erupted first. Unfortunately, instead of brushing aside the questions Tuesday night, Ortiz expletived the heck out of reporters and fueled the script by going nutty prematurely. I had Lowell pulling a hissy fit on May 3 in my pool, so there’s five bucks I won’t see again.
Proving once again that Boston is a baseball town that teeters on the line of knowledgeable fans and first-rate yahoos, Ortiz’s .091 batting average and one RBI (which is one more than Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Kate Austin, Lou Reed, Tom Werner, you, me, and the chimp from “B.J. and the Bear” combined, by the way) has fans ready to bench the guy everyone once thought would never have to buy a beer in this town ever again. Ask Keith Foulke and Mark Bellhorn how that worked out.
Somewhere between blaming Terry Francona for his loyalty and criticizing the Red Sox front office for not importing another DH for the 2010 season, lays a man on the down slope of his storied career, granted. The first two months of 2009 and the last few of 2008 were horrid for Ortiz, who obviously isn’t the same player he was as recently as 2007. Attach whatever theory you want to that, but this is a different guy we’re watching, one who has difficulty catching up to fastballs in his wheelhouse. Those used to be planted in the right field bleachers. Now they’re fouled back to the screen.
So we’re supposed to be somehow surprised by the decline of “The Greatest Clutch Hitter in Red Sox History?” Give or take, he’s 34 years old, an age when Jim Rice saw his home run production dip from 20 to 13. It didn’t get any better for the Hall of Famer his next two seasons, culminating in the dreadful 1989 campaign. At 36, Rice’s career was over.
What makes us think Ortiz is going to rebound to become the player he was three seasons ago? Nothing, except for whatever magical fairy dust Francona and Epstein have in their pockets. Can he be the guy who delivered 29 homers and 99 RBIs last season? Why not? And if that’s good enough to be a contender, you live with it and cut ties at the end of the season. Thanks for the memories, and all.
But people. The demand for Lowell has to cease for three reasons.
1. Lowell himself might be a question at the plate, coming off hip surgery last year.
2. It’s been three games.
3. It’s been three @#$&*$# games.
Really, the only issue I have with the whole silly situation was the other night when Fun Time Joe Girardi brought lefty Damaso Marte into the game to face Ortiz, who has had about as much success against Marte as my diet had at Wing Bowl ’99. For a franchise that prides itself on statistical evidence and playing the percentages, isn’t it a bit odd that Francona left Ortiz at bat because of his “confidence?” When’s nap time at that place?
Look, Lowell will get his at-bats, if for no other reason then the Red Sox are looking to showcase him. Maybe they’ll happen as soon as this weekend in Kansas City, maybe not until Patriot’s Day. Perhaps the Red Sox know what they have with Lowell. You think they, or anyone, have any clue what Ortiz has left in the tank?
The only way you find out is to trot him out there on a nightly basis, however with the expressed measure that he knows he may be lifted for a pinch-hitter. With the shift, his performance against lefties, and capable bats on the bench all in play, you can’t afford to give away scoring opportunities because you may put a dent in someone’s feelings.
By the way, Vernon Wells=AL MVP. I don’t see how you can argue this.