In yet another rant to the media, Ortiz told USA Today reporter Jorge L. Ortiz in an interview on Wednesday that the Sox organization’s treatment of his contract situation last offseason was “humiliating” and “embarrassing.”
In the coming days there will surely be a lot of hand-wringing and griping about how someone could be “embarrassed” by a $14 million contract. We in the media certainly like to moralize issues like this one and pretend that, were we in the same position, we would simply shut our mouths and be happy.
We can’t understand what it’s like to be David Ortiz, and we don’t know the details of his negotiations with the team. Speculating, in this case, is a worthless exercise.
Instead of focusing on the past, we need to look to the future, namely whether Ortiz has one in Boston.
The fact of the matter is that this Sox team has been erratic and often listless all season. The one exception is Ortiz, who has seemingly been playing with a chip on his shoulder all year.
While the Sox are surely delighted with the results of Ortiz’s inspired play, they are flirting with disaster if they think he’ll want to stay here much longer on the one-year contracts he’s received the last couple of seasons.
His multiple tantrums have proven that he may have finally snapped, and if the Sox don’t rectify the problem soon they will be faced with the PR nightmare of seeing Big Papi in a different uniform in 2013.
Ortiz is the face of this team, period. He has been their best player this year, is the last link to the beloved 2004 World Series team and has a bond with fans that will last forever. The Sox owe it to both the player and the fans to make sure he stays here for the rest of his career.
To shut Ortiz up and end the drama, the Sox need to swiftly move in and sign him to a two or three-year extension that keeps him in Boston for the rest of his playing days.
By dropping over 20 pounds last offseason, Ortiz proved to the team that he remains committed to being the best possible player he can be. Despite his age (36), he remains a top-level offensive contributor. As a DH, his risk of injury is minimal.
For a team that has sunk so much money into long-term contracts for players, the Sox have no excuse for all of a sudden crying poor. Ortiz is the Boston Red Sox. Can we really say the same for Carl Crawford or Daisuke Matsuzaka?
Ortiz is not asking for a record-setting deal, either. He simply wants the Sox to make the same kind of commitment to him that he has to the team. His performance has shown that his terrible starts in 2009 and 2010 were merely aberrations, and calls for him to retire then were premature.
Ortiz loves to talk about the relative lack of “respect” he gets from the team. While it’s not for us to determine if it is right or wrong to equate money with respect, in the sports world it is certainly the easiest way for players to measure their worth relative to one another.
If the Sox think an eight-time All-Star, surefire Hall of Famer and man who delivered the first championships in over 80 years is not worth a couple extra years where he might not live up to the dollar value of his contract, then who is?
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