I started writing this one about two weeks ago, shortly after home run number four.
Somewhere in my head, a little voice cried out, “After so long a slump, it's too soon! Don't write that Big Papi is back to stay. Don't jinx him...”
And I didn't publish. But I did write, because the fact was, Papi was back. Too soon to write it? I didn't care.
But now as June is drawing to a close, the season half over, the All-Star break days away, it seems even the hardcore skeptics are beginning to come around.
David “Big Papi” Ortiz has eight homers now, seven more than when the month began. His average for June is .310, his slugging at .648, and with hits in seven of his last eight games, he isn't cooling.
For June, Ortiz has literally doubled his average and slugging of the month before, that more than dismal .146, .242 SLG. He is making up for lost time – and lost hits – in a big way.
And yet, even now, there are some who will say it's too soon. Some will say, this is a last hurrah from a fading star, and falling stars don't stay in the sky much longer...
Not long before the Large Father began to come around, Mike Lowell was asked about the feeling of such an epic slump, and what goes through a player's head.
Lowell, of course, knows the feeling first-hand from his 2005 run with the Marlins, when his performance dropped off so badly as to land him and his salary a ticket north as part of the Beckett trade.
What he said was no surprise: As a slump draws out, you start trying too hard, working against yourself. You might get a few hits, but you can't help still seeing that low average by your name, and you slip right back into it.
And so a slump gets longer, and longer...
But Mike Lowell wasn't finished. Not even close. For the MVP of Boston's '07 World Series victory, it took the clean slate of post-season play, and later the full fresh start of a new team to put his lost season behind him. But he did, and he didn't look back.
For him, we may never know what did the trick. It's the land of mind games, always mysterious territory.
Maybe those eye drops really did help after all?
What we do know is that the man with the million dollar smile is suddenly looking more like the multi-million dollar bat he's always been.
Papi is back to clutch hits. He's back to hitting for power. He's scoring runs. He just recently marked his 1000th RBI, and by the look of things, there are many more to come.
Kudos to the fans who stood behind him, who kept on cheering even when the K's were mounting higher. Kudos to the man himself for fighting, for finding his swing, for coming back and being Superman once more.
Ladies and Gentlemen of Red Sox Nation, we had one monumental worry in the first half of the season; just one big aching quandary hanging over the team. It's been set right.
Bring on the second half!
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