Some sort of homecoming, David Ortiz acknowledges the crowd in the 5th. (AP Photo)
Witnessing David Ortiz wish his 5th inning shot over the centerfield wall instantly provided me with visions of grandeur for him, however false they may be. This is something I freely admit to, and it’s honestly something I don’t know if I can help, call it the curse of the fan if you wish. I recognize that with this swing his previous 145 at bats didn’t just vanish into the Back Bay air; I’m a reasonable man after all. But damn, something sure seemed magical about this homerun. It’s almost as if Papi provided Red Sox fans with some strange foreplay leading up to this, that lingered long like a cold winter, and when the special moment finally happened, it was as if Fenway exploded into an orgasm of ecstasy & delight. Uncontrollable joy.
Red Sox Nation has been dealing with Big Papi’s power drought in varying degrees. Some, like my friend Jesse have been fasting in a perilous vigil, while others have readily spit venom upon his name in the most vehement of manners. Myself, well, I think I’m now 95% convinced that Ortiz was enhancing his play in some way during his Red Sox years, which is sad, but most likely true. I think whatever he did helped him for sure, but also think he would have been great either way. All speculation aside, it’s been hard to watch our fallen hero, and the hurt has been more precise because of the adoration Boston has for Papi, who may be second to none when it comes to unabashed love. He’s provided us with a lifetime of smiles, however the sharpness of this stretch has led to the deepness of the wound and increased cynicism in taverns and homes across New England.
With this single swing, stare, trot, and heavenly point, Big Papi breathed life, and more importantly hope, into the lungs of The Nation. The crowd was in full throat as he rounded the bases, as if to lift David above the infield dirt, as he glided home and was greeted with hugs, smiles, and joy. For that is what Big Papi has brought to Red Sox baseball since 2003, pure unadulterated joy. Seeing him finally flash the greatest smile in sports cemented this joy further, and sent the cranks in the crowd into a fervor.
The apex of the night occurred when Papi acknowledged the fans, something he’s done his whole career in Boston, as he raised his hand in honor of them - in what is one of the more memorable curtain calls in recent memory. John Updike once famously wrote about Ted Williams final game in 1960, saying that: “Gods do not answer letters.” However - with his fist in the air, Ortiz proved this theory to be fallible, all while giving hope that he’ll be answering more as the season progresses. Big Papi is Dead. Long Live Big Papi.