Well David Ortiz has taken his last plate appearance in the major leagues thanks to the Red Sox failure to generate offense, the excellence of Cleveland’s defense and the inferiority of Red Sox pitching suggesting once again that without pitching and defense, even a David Ortiz is not enough to guarantee a team a world series.

I say his last plate appearance rather than his last at bats because neither of his two final plate appearances credited him with an at bat. He had a sacrifice fly which drove in a run on third and a walk to finish his Red Sox career.

I’d like to talk about the latter.

There were many moving tributes to David Ortiz during the year and after last night’s game many more but the final tribute to him came during the bottom of the 8th inning.

Ortiz came up as the tying run with a man on first. This was a critical moment in the game, a moment where if the Red Sox had managed to tie the game all bets were off. Terry Francona, the manager of Cleveland well knew that giving this Red Sox team a lifeline by a win might turn into disaster and David Ortiz was the man to create this disaster.

So with the game on the line what did Cleveland do? Intentionally walk him? They could not, because with first base full that would imply fear and the best way inspire confidence in an opponent in baseball is to imply fear.

No what happened is Cleveland’s pitcher threw four pitches, and not a single one was in a spot where David Ortiz could hit it. Even though walking Ortiz put the dangerous Hanley Ramirez at the plate who could easily give the Sox the lead with one swing (and managed to drive in one run with a single) it didn’t matter. The game was on the line and the Cleveland Indians had no intention of letting the best clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox franchise, the hitter that carried the Red Sox fan base to one that expects success from one that anticipates failure on his own shoulders. The man who got the crowd into the game with a wave of his hands.

As I said there were many tributes to Ortiz this year and he likely at least one the Hall of Fame in five years and a shot at the MVP this year, but for my money the greatest tribute to Ortiz this year was the fact that at age 40, the Cleveland Indians decided that with game 3 on the line of a series they were already up 2-0 in David Ortiz would not get a pitch to hit.

I suspect the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were very grateful for that decision.

So David Ortiz has played his last regular season game and ended said regular season career with a weak ground out to the pitcher.

While his finish was not spectacular let’s consider David Ortiz’s 2016 stats

Ortiz led the league in doubles with 48 (and that’s on two bad legs)
He led he league in RBI’s with 127
He led the league in extra base hits with 87 (finishing 8th all time btw)
He led the league with a .620 Slugging percentage (Ironically the only time he has led in this category in his career
He led the league with a 1.021 OPS (on base plus slugging)
He Led the league with 15 intentional walks

He finished 6th in Batting with a .315 avg
He finished 3rd in On Base percentage with .401
He finished 7th in total bases with 333
He finished 8th in Home runs with 38
He finished 8th in walks with 80
He finished 5th in runs created with 130
He finished 2nd in offensive win percentage at .756
He finished 5th in sacrifice flies with 7

and in more esoteric stats

He finished 2nd in adjusted OPS
He finished 2nd in adjusted batting runs
He finished 2nd in adjusted batting wins
He finished 5th in at bats per HR ratio
He finished 2nd in base outs runs added
He finished 3rd in win probability added
He finished 4th in situational wins added

And on the minus side was 4th in hitting into double plays with 22

For any normal player such a season would be considered spectacular.

For a 40 year old player with bad legs an feet in his final major league season that is spectacular.

No major league player in a career not ended by suspension (Joe Jackson) sudden death (Roberto Clemente) or Serious injury / disease (Sandy Koufax) has ever had a year like this to finish a career and of course there is still the playoffs to come.

I have no idea how the Red Sox or Ortiz will do in the playoffs, but even if the Tribe sweeps us in 3 and Ortiz goes 0-12 consier this.

While Curt Schilling deserves a fair share of the 2004 credit David Ortiz is the man who converted the Red Sox franchise and fans from a group of people waiting to see what would go wrong, to a franchise that believes it can win in any given year. He is a player that transformed fandom in this region.

I don’t expect to see another like him in my lifetime.

Intern: Wonderful thing, pain. Without pain, no race could survive.
4th Doctor: I’m well aware of that.
Intern: Autonomic defence mechanism.

Doctor Who, The Hand of Fear 1976

Although the Red Sox have been on a rough patch lately there has been one constant factor this season.  David Ortiz is the reason they are in the race for the pennant.

Ortiz is 40 years old yet his numbers this season have been phenomenal:

He currently leads the league in doubles, slugging percentage, Extra base hits, total bases and intentional walks.

He also leads the league in some less known stats such as: adjusted batting runs, adjusted batting wins, OPS, OPS+slug, base out runs added, situational wins added,

And he is in the top 10 in all of these following categories

Batting avg 3rd
Home Runs 6th
RBI’s 2nd
On base percentage 2nd
Runs Created 2nd
Times on base 7th
At Bats per HR 3rd
Wins above replacement 10th
Offensive wins above replacement 3rd

This would be quite an accomplishment for a player in his prime, for a 40 year old player in what should be his final season, that’s ungodly.

Additionally he is being well compensated for these achievements. This year he is making $16,000,000 and while he has announced his retirement the team has a $10,000,000 option for next year if he was to change his mind.

That being the case an observer might think that postponing retirement for another year or two might be a wise decision after all he continues to be a productive player and baring injury it is highly likely that he will suddenly become a mediocre player in the next year or two.

Furthermore there is that $10,000,000 option. Even if he is hired by the Red Sox as a permanent batting instructor, by MLB in whatever capacity they choose, hired by ESPN or MLB network as an analyst and get endorsements high and low he will likely never see any like that kind of money ever again in his life.

But for all those numbers, including the dollar signs some things are just more important

“Big Papi” arrives at the stadium before any other player to start the long process of preparing for a game, particularly when it comes to his feet. He said he feels pain in his feet every day, and they are the main reason he guarantees he will never change his mind and come back for another season.

“Everything hurts,” he said. “It even hurts to think. Last time I reached second after a double, I almost called for a timeout so they would get me out of the game. I can barely run because my feet hurt so much. I am in severe pain.

“One often tries to live in the moment, and even when your body is saying no, you say yes, even when your body says not to. Only mental strength convinces you that you can continue. Mental strength tells you that you can keep at it. But the body is a machine; it will give out and will send you a bill.”

 

And David Ortiz is wise enough to know that no amount of cheers, honors or money will pay that bill for him and is acting accordingly.

That’s  an important lesson and I suspect more than one older pro athlete is nodding their head wishing that at the end of their career they were wise enough to do the same.

Missy (The Master): He’s trapped at the heart of the Dalek empire. He’s a prisoner of the creatures who hate him most in the universe. Between us and him is everything the deadliest race in all of history can throw at us. We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick. How do we start?
Clara: We assume we’re going to win.

Doctor Who: The Witches’ Familiar 2015

There are few thing I enjoy more than re-watching the 2004 ALCS series starting with the 9th inning of game 4.

Even twelve years later and with three world series in the bag. The 2004 ALCS is special. It brings a smile to the face and a tear to the eye and it all began with the greatest stolen base in Red Sox History:

and ended with Big Papi knocking it out.

Now for Red Sox fans like myself the great comeback of 2004 is particularly special because it was our first world series win. That first championship is always the greatest.

I’m sure this isn’t unique to Red Sox fans. 1969 was the first championship for the Met and the 1969 Miracle Mets as some might have forgotten came back from behind to take the East from the Chicago Cubs and then swept Atlanta to win their first pennant.

Yes that’s a young Nolan Ryan who was to win his only World Series Ring of his incredible career with those Miracle Mets.

And if you go back even further in 1951 the then NY Giants were 12 1/2 back in August and 4 1/2 games back with ten to play and managed to come back and take the Pennant.

Now All of these teams and comebacks are legendary and every baseball fan knows them. Do you know the reason why?

Because they are exceptions.

Nobody talks about the seasons when the Yankees dominated in the 90’s or the Reds in 1976 or the 1973 Oakland A’s not because they weren’t great teams but because thing happened as expected.

And that brings us to the election results tonight.

As of this writing Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia and Alabama and Tennessee have all gone for Donald Trump and when CNN reported that GOP donors are getting together to get money together to stop him Jake Tapper just said “Why don’t they wait till after the inauguration?”

At the same time as the GOP Establishment is doing this many of my fellow conservative activists are talking about the same thing stopping Trump or suggesting that he’s in trouble to wit

Now as I’ve said over and Over I’m a Ted Cruz guy. I voted for him today and I urge all voters to vote for Ted as the best candidate to secure the border, stop Obamacare, I’m glad he’s leading in Texas and exit polls look good in Oklahoma which would be one more state than the MSM was projecting and I’d be delighted for him to come back and win the nomination.

But I understand that such a comeback would be in the same class as the 2004 Red Sox , the 1969 Mets and the 1951 Giants and have no intention of pretending otherwise and I hope the Ted Cruz campaign does the same because you can’t get to where you want to go unless you understand where you are.

Now I don’t expect the Establishment GOP to tell the truth but I’m really bothered to see my fellow conservative activists retreat to their safe spaces

Cue south Park

*******************************

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Ruberry Hopkinton
Blogger at Boston
Marathon start, 1996

By John Ruberry

Tomorrow morning the 118th Boston Marathon will begin 26.2 miles from Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in Hopkinton. It will be the most most closely-watched of the Grandaddy of all Marathons because of last year’s savage bombings by two Islamist terrorists near the finish on Boylston Street that killed three people and injured 264 others.

I’ve finished 33 marathons and three Boston races–those were in 1994, 1996, and 2004. Until this year’s run, the most anticipated race was the 100th Boston in ’96 when there were over 38,000 participants–the most ever–which is a record that is expected to be topped on Monday.

For runners, qualifying for Boston is considered their ultimate goal, in my age group, I need to run 3 hours and 30 minutes in another marathon to be accepted. Yes, many are called but few are chosen. Runners raising money for charity are also accepted.

Boston is a different race in so many ways. Chiefly, the crowd support is unmatched. A half-million fans line the streets from Hopkinton-to-Ashland-to-Framingam-to-Natick-to Wellesley-to-Newton-to-Boston.  Many families have been watching the race for generations from the roadside. They barbecue, they post updates on the Red Sox game on chalkboards, and they cheer.

Mile after mile.

Ruberry at Wellesley
Ruberry at Wellesley

Other than the finish, my favorite spot on the Boston Marathon run is at the halfway point at all-female Wellesley College, dubbed the “scream tunnel” by runners. The women offer by far the most enthusiastic support on the route. In 1996, an older runner–who was about my age now–quipped, “Wow, even I can get lucky on this campus today.”

While not as loud as Wellesley, the encouragement in Newton, home of Heartbreak Hill and three other thigh-and-calf-punishing massive hills, is certainly needed and welcome.

After passing Boston College, it is literally all-downhill from there for the entrants. With less than a mile left, runners turn from Hereford Street onto Boylston–another scream tunnel. Every runner feels like a celebrity on Boston Marathon Day on that street.

But that is where those cruel bombs were detonated last year.

I won’t be there tomorrow, but I am certain the crowd noise will be louder than ever on Boylston as the athletes run to the finish.

The fans are as much of a part of this legendary race as the runners in the Boston Marathon.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit

Back in April when the RedSox Sellout streak ended I wrote this:

It appears the Boston Red Sox streak of sellouts is going to end this year. The Sox have a 6 state customer base, one of the most historic franchise in the nation and a ballpark that is not only one of the smallest in the majors but is itself an attraction in itself.

“It’s going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect,” Lucchino said of the streak, which began in 2003 and is the longest in U.S. pro sports history. “That’s not such a terrible thing. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

But even that isn’t enough if you don’t put a worthwhile product on the field.

Sports Illustrated agreed, here is their projection from their baseball preview issue:

Boston Red Sox

2012 Record: 69-93, fifth in AL East

2013 Projection: 77-85, fifth in AL East

and they questioned the acquisition of Shane Victorino

Biggest Loss: Cody Ross

Ross was one of the few bright spots in Boston last year, a good-natured clubhouse presence who played solid defense in the outfield and produced at the plate: he slugged 22 homers, drove in 81 runs and had an OPS of .807. Yet the Sox essentially replaced him with Victorino, who will cost some $13 million more over the next three years (Ross signed a three year, $26 million deal with the Diamondbacks), who has a similar personality and plays even better defense, but, at the same age as Ross (32), had an OPS last season that was more than 100 points lower. In an offseason full of sensible changes, this seems to have been a questionable one.

In April I would have agreed to cover any Red Sox fan willing to bet on them to win the series and given them 100-1. If I had I’d be in worse shape than Obamacare.

That’s why you play the games

While the experts were all wrong there was at least one young lady who knew better and I met her in April.

An amazing thing happened at the Supermarket yesterday.

I was in the 12 items or less line when a family of three were behind me started talking to the cashier. I tend to hear all kinds of things that I store away but when the young lady named Catlin told her friend about her father talking about putting a TV in the shower for her it stopped me cold.

I had to turn and inquire:

“What about water on the set”

“It would be high”

“The water is going to splash off of you and up”

“We’re going to put plexiglass over the screen.”

As my head continued to spin I finally turned to this young 15 year old girl standing with her parents and asked the following question:

“Young lady, can you tell me one thing that is going to be on your television set that is so important, so critical and so unavailable in repeats that it can’t wait for a time when you are not wet and naked in the shower?”

She silenced me in three words:

“Red Sox Games”

How does any New Englander answer that?

I guess she knew better than me & SI I wonder how many Red Sox wins she watched in that shower this year?

I’ve never been so pleased to be dead wrong.

This morning I went into Boston very early and caught the line of people hoping against all hope to score tickets to tonight’s game.

The person first in line had actually arrived on Monday. He had just finished one job and was about to start a new one giving him the free time to spend two night in line.

Several Hours later when the sun had risen I perused the line again to get commentary from as many people as possible

I was surprised at how many people came from so many different places all with a common goal to get in somehow.

Given that the decision to pitch to David Ortiz with First base open was one of the most controversial decisions of the series to this point, as repeatedly asked if those in line if they were managing St. Louis would pitch to Ortiz with a base open. While a few of the people said “yes” the general consensus was; walk David Ortiz even if first base wasn’t open.

Ironically after I left this line I ran into a large group of Cardinal fans who declined to go on camera. I asked them my David Ortiz question. The Cardinal fans answered bluntly. They didn’t care if the bases are loaded and the game tied, They’d all give Ortiz a free pass each time up rather than risk pitching to him.

On the other side of the park they were still conducting Fenway tours. I spoke to one of the attendants and they indicated they would continue to do so till 4 PM. I talked to a couple from Vancouver Washington who was attending one.

I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the fans waiting in that ticket line considered trying the tour instead and hoping to lose their escort & hide in the mens room to get in.

It turned out I wasn’t the only person who was doing some independent journalism. A young senior named Samantha was too.

There will be a lot to see at Fenway tonight. Hopefully all those who waited many hours in the hopes of seeing it person will be rewarded.

Yesterday the Detroit Tigers Shut out the Boston Red Sox 1-0 in a one hit game where Boston drew more walks than a kennel with every spot filled.   Over and over they had base runners all over the place but simply could not get them in.

I had been convinced a pitcher like Anibal Sanchez who thew hard but was having 25+ pitch innings  early against patient hitters would start throwing hittable pitches by the 4th & 5th as the count got high.

He did not.

After the game Detroit’s Starter gave a very brief interview where he said one of the most intelligent things I’ve ever heard a young pitcher say.

He bluntly said that the Red Sox lineup can hurt you so he decided to stick to the corners, that’s why there were so many walks because he didn’t want any of his mistakes to be over the plate.

Normally a  pitcher who throws 95+ wants to show his machismo:  I’m going to challenge that batter because I’m a stud & it’s about me.

That’s the difference between age 22 & age 29.

If I am a AA manager working with young pitchers I’d find that short interview (which I wasn’t able to spot online) and make sure every pitcher on the staff watched it over and over again.

The good news, you won’t lose a Red Sox Game due to the oncomming storm

A few hours before last night’s game, the Red Sox held a brief, players-only team meeting.

The topic: Hurricane Irene.

With the storm expected to hit New England by tomorrow night or Sunday, the players agreed it would be prudent to preemptively move up Sunday’s game and play a day-night doubleheader tomorrow against the Oakland Athletics.

the Bad news is that with the day night doubleheader Hour 2 of DaTechGuy on DaRAdio will be preempted for the Boston Red Sox game.

So tomorrow’s show featuring Lisa Graas will be only one hour, but Live from Broadview Assisted Living Complex in Winchedon. Sherman Whitman will be interviewing folk onsite Lisa and I talk a bit about the presidential race and the sudden fears of religious conservatives.

Join us at 10 a.m. on WCRN AM 830. Dail 508-438-0965 or 888-9-FEDORA.

Barring a new hurricane or earthquake DaTechGuy on DaRadio will be back to full Strength next week.