Column: Ortiz's grand slam may have cemented his legacy
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 23:10
David Ortiz. Hall of Fame? Sunday night’s heroics may serve as the final string in the bow tying the two together. The Sox were all but out of Game 2 in a series they already trailed. At home. Hope wasn’t on the horizon. Luckily one thought, or better yet – reality, slipped the minds of Red Sox fans across New England with pre-made conclusions similar to mine: the Sox still have David Ortiz.
David Ortiz is a career .287 hitter over the span of 17 major league seasons. He’s belted 431 career home runs. The Dominican has driven in close to 1,500 runners. Would those numbers alone get him into Cooperstown? Hard to tell. Add to the resume his postseason knack for, as Jonny Gomes described it, “awesomeness,” after his latest display, and the answer becomes much more definitive. As the 21st century Mr. October, “Big Papi” has left a footprint on the game that will leave his image in the likeness of Reggie Jackson and Kurt Gibson. David Ortiz has extended beyond excellence with his postseason play: he’s made himself Hall worthy.
Ortiz’s playoff numbers speak for themselves. He’s fifth all-time in career postseason RBIs with 54. Those ahead of him in the category have each played close to 50 games more in cold heat of October baseball. His 15 career playoff home runs bring him to ninth all-time on the career list. He’s had countless walk-off hits. Made countless memories for fans across Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Main and the rest of Red Sox Nation.
He saved Boston in 2004, walking off on consecutive nights as the backbone to the greatest baseball comeback in history. Just to place itself into the series in which that comeback was staged Boston rode an Ortiz walk-off home run. Ortiz would also homer in that year’s World Series, as his team took home its first championship trophy in 86 years.
As the Sox played in the postseason from 2005-2008, the slugger blasted more round trippers, batted in more runs and another World Series crown was captured after the 2007 campaign.
Ortiz’ career looked to be on the decline as he struggled through the beginnings of several seasons approaching the new decade. He would prove to consistently, perhaps miraculously, turn it around. He put himself back into the starting line-up of the All-Star Game in multiple seasons. His team, however, could not get itself back into a championship series until last week when it did so for the first time in five years. In its first 16 innings of that series Boston was bordering on awful.
The Sox had amassed just three hits entering the seventh inning of Sunday’s game. Then, down four, they loaded the bases for their franchise’s greatest clutch player. And Ortiz, as he’s done so many times, delivered.
When Ortiz’ grand slam sailed over the desperate, outreached glove of Torii Hunter to tie Game 2 he more than hit a home run. He more then paved the way to what would be one of the club’s greatest single game victories. He officially launched himself onto the right side of the Hall of Fame conversation.