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It is no secret that David Ortiz, Big Papi, struggled at the beginning of the season. But, was that reason enough to kick him to the curb? Do you put down your beloved dog when it breaks its leg, or do you spend the extra money to have old Lassie around for a few more years?
Some critics were quick to suggest bidding him farewell. Since when does a player struggling in the earlier part of the season indicate that he is a failure in the MLB? In many cases, we are eager to dump off our old junk for something shiny and new. However, would a kid fresh out of college and extremely wet behind the ears really satisfy our needs? Few young players in their first year in the league can stand up to the tremendous pressure of competing for the coveted spot in the World Series. Walking into the college baseball stadium in Oxford, MS is significantly different than walking up to bat at Fenway Park.
What qualifies a player as old within the league? A study performed in 2007 by a research team at the University of Colorado in Boulder found that the average career span for an MLB player is 5.6 years. Well, if time has proven anything in Ortiz’s career, it has shown that his talents only improve each season. In his second year playing in Boston, he was a pivotal figure in helping the Red Sox finally break the curse of the Great Bambino. Sorry Babe.
Ortiz has further proven his prowess and dedication since the 2004 World Series by continuing to play despite injuries in the last two seasons. He was again a major force in helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007, even though he suffered from both a knee and shoulder injury. His injury the next season may have kept him from playing in a third of the season’s games, yet his numbers remained steady with 23 home runs, 89 RBI, and a batting average of .264. The beginning of the 2009 season proved to be slightly difficult for Ortiz, but within the past few weeks he has come back swinging.
His slight slump shouldn’t have been reason enough to jump to the conclusion that he wouldn’t succeed this season. Clearly, he has been a major asset to the team lately. His recent three-run homer against the Nationals was a menacing warning to all of those who were quick to turn their backs on Ortiz.
If having a string of bad games called for a player’s removal from his team, then there would be a lot of new positions open every season on every team. Personally, I will be wearing my number thirty-four jersey to Fenway for several more seasons.