Big Papi, Sports Illustrated, and the "S" Word

Chris KyleCorrespondent IMay 14, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 04:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox looks on prior to playing the New York Yankees on May 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The "s" word, meaning slump, not steroids, is something that almost every ballplayer at every level has experienced in some form, but this one feels different.

He can't catch up to routine fastballs.

He knows it, everyone knows it. He told Sports Illustrated that he can't even leave his apartment without the doorman saying, "'Tonight's the night! I've got a feeling this is it!"

His name?

Derek Jeter, version 2004.

That year, Jeter's slump was so bad that he landed on a June cover of Sports Illustrated that screamed: "The Slump: Solving The Biggest Mystery In Sports."

Five years later, David Ortiz is in that same kind of slump. It might not be June yet, but he's already hearing the same criticisms Jeter heard from the same people.

"The only thing it looks like Ortiz is hitting these days is the buffet," a fantasy baseball column on Sports Illustrated's Web site said on Tuesday, "and a closer look at his numbers does not provide optimism."

Well, what about these numbers, Sports Illustrated?

Derek Jeter (through May 13, 2004) -- .210 AVG, 7 doubles, 2 HR, 13 RBI

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David Ortiz (through May 13, 2009) -- .220 AVG, 10 doubles, 0 HR, 15 RBI

Granted, age is not on Big Papi's side, but Jeter's own slump-busting history is.

On May 25, 2004, Jeter was batting a putrid .189, yet still battled back to finish with a more than respectable .292 average, 44 doubles, 23 home runs, and 78 RBIs.

"It's not how you start," reads a shirt that Ortiz has been wearing. "It's how you finish."

He's right.