The Baseball Desert

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Split personality

Whilst watching the replays of David Ortiz hitting yet another walk-off home run for the Red Sox, I was struck by the amazing change that he undergoes as he rounds the bases. He's all smiles as he arrives at home plate (the actual sequence goes: big grin, hat-flip, leap, mob scene):

but here's what he looks like at the plate:

You can almost hear the two of them thinking - Jose Molina: "Oh shit, he did it again"; Big Papi: "Right over the plate - oh man, that ball in goooooone!"

Kristen has a great post on Ortiz, which nicely outlines how he is perceived in Boston and how he is perceived by opposing fans.
I had a conversation with Sebastian (Yankees fan) and Marianne (Orioles fan) this weekend about David Ortiz. My contention was that he was just a giant love-muffin who was undoubtedly a champion hugger who could also hit a piece too. "No," they assured me, "He's fucking terrifying."

"Really?" I said. "I mean, I know he can hit. But he's so smiley and huggy. Is he really scary or just scary good."

"Dude," Marianne said, "If you watch him from an opposing viewpoint, he'll make you wet yourself."

"Huh," I said, "I just kind of want to hug him forever."

"He makes me cry," Sebastian said, "He's so fucking scary."
I'd noticed this prior to last night - the way Ortiz comes to the plate, the menacing "Go on - try to throw it by me" look he has on his face as the pitcher looks in for his sign, the way he spits on his batting gloves and smacks his hands together between pitches, as if to say "OK, now we're ready to rumble".

September is upon us, and the Red Sox are eyeing the playoffs. They have a lot of problems to deal with, but David Ortiz is not one of them. As the pressure mounts over the next three weeks (and beyond) Terry Francona must be truly relieved to be able to write in the no. 3 spot: "The Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, #34".