All good things sadly must come to an end. Reportedly, another reminder of that fact will occur when David Ortiz steps away from the game at the end of the 2016 season. Ortiz has been one of the backbones of the Boston Red Sox for the last 13 seasons. He helped Red Sox Nation conquer the curse of the Bambino, while also leading Boston to two additional championships. Perhaps more importantly, Ortiz has also become the voice of Boston in the way he has represented the city since the Boston Marathon tragedy. Boston has fallen in love with their slugger in the same fashion that Ortiz has fallen in love with the city. After one final campaign, that love story will come to an end.
Ortiz is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer. He will likely become the first natural designated hitter to become enshrined into Cooperstown. Towards the end of last season, Ortiz became a member of the 500 home run club with 445 of them coming as a member of the Nation. Certainly, Ortiz has come a long way since he first broke into the league as a slimmed down rookie with the Minnesota Twins.
For the Red Sox, there are two perspectives to look at with this announcement. On the baseball side, now under new management with Dave Dombrowski and a loaded farm system, the void that will be left by Ortiz can easily be replaced. The Red Sox could become more flexible by allowing the big contracts of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to be used as a DH while working in their younger players around the diamond. But no matter how the future Red Sox are structured, arguably no hitter will be able to step into the box with the aura and intimidation of a David Ortiz.
The other perspective is the non-baseball side and the end of an era. It will be harder to fill the void of Ortiz within the community than anything else. One could make a case that Ortiz has been one of the most prolific and clutch hitters of the last decade. While he has never been an MVP, his numbers have been MVP-like. Ortiz has had nine seasons of 30-plus home runs. Then, there are all of the countless clutch hits, game-winning RBIs, and the postseason heroics. Ortiz played the game with a flare and style matched by very few in the game’s long history.
Ortiz, who will turn 40 on Wednesday, also plans to announce the status of his future the same day. If he does ultimately plan to hang up his spikes at season’s end, it will certainly be one flashy farewell tour. Ortiz will do everything in his power to make sure the Red Sox make a deep run into October in his final year. Time and time again, Ortiz has put the Nation on his back and led them to great achievements. Ortiz will be missed on the field, in the clubhouse, and within the community. If this is goodbye for Ortiz, there will not be another like Big Papi for quite some time.