BOSTON – David Ortiz fired up the hot stove last week when he told a Boston television station he’d like a contract extension.
The media eruption that followed should have been expected.
We love to complain about multimillion-dollar athletes showing dissatisfaction with their financial situation. These guys lead a privileged lifestyle and make more money than we could dream of. They should shut their mouths and play, right?
Yes they should, but that’s not Big Papi’s style. Never has been. These complaints have popped up over his years in Boston, usually when he is in (or approaching) the final year of his contract. He clearly doesn’t like lame-duck status. He feels he has earned security going forward.
It’s important to note that Ortiz never threatened to hold out or not play out the remaining year of his contract.
Asked if he would play somewhere else after this contract expired he said yes. That’s what sent us into an uproar.
Big Papi in another uniform? Sacrilege!
Ortiz was simply being honest with his answers. He feels his career is far from over and if he hits free agency, all bets are off.
Why is this controversial? Rajon Rondo essentially said the same thing last week. He said sure, he’s thought about what it would be like to be a free agent in 2015. No one complained about those comments.
We want athletes to be honest with us (which usually means being honest with the media) but we (the media) scream when they are.
Richard Sherman spoke from the heart after the NFC championship-game victory against San Francisco. And we all spent a week complaining about his “outrageous” comments.
David Ortiz is speaking from the heart here. He wants to stay in Boston until his playing days are through. He just doesn’t think the end of his career is in sight yet.
He has seen other players receive lucrative multiyear contracts for performances that don’t compare to what he has done for Boston. He thinks he has earned the right to earn more.
Last year, playing in his first season of a two-year contract, Ortiz was the single most important bat in the Red Sox lineup.
He hit .309 with a .395 on-base percentage and a .564 slugging percentage. He hit 30 home runs for just the second time in six seasons.
Ortiz, 38, saved his best for last, winning the World Series MVP Award with a .688 batting average and a ridiculous 1.948 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). The Sox wouldn’t have gotten to the Fall Classic without his eighth-inning grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Tigers.
He’s shown up to spring training in outstanding shape in recent years, saying he has learned how to work harder on fitness as he ages. Like any player who produces late in his career, he has dealt with steroid allegations, but there has been nothing linking him to PEDs since his inclusion on a 2003 list that was supposed to be anonymous.
He is one of the most beloved sports figures in Boston and is one of the greatest hitters in the history of the franchise. The Red Sox value his presence and undoubtedly will try to get an extension done before the regular season.
With his comments, Ortiz is telling us he wants to stay in Boston. For two more years, if not longer. In the end, it’s hard to think of that as scandalous.
Tom Caron is studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.