A Contract Extension
Written from the perspective of a former hater …
The Boston Red Sox have FINALLY given Big Papi what he wants, to say in Boston. The two parties agreed to a one-year $16 million contract extension Sunday. The agreement also includes vesting options for both 2016 and 2017. ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes tweeted Sunday,
Baseball source: In addition to $16m in 2015, there are vesting options in both 2016 and ’17
— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 23, 2014
This basically ensures that the 38-year old Boston icon will remain with the Red Sox for the remainder of his career. If it had been any other way not only would have it not been right, I think the world would have ended. Well, that or there would have been a lot of rioting in New England.
Sure, though many of us often forget, David Ortiz did play with the Minnesota Twins for the first six seasons of his career. This is baffling to believe because he so embodies the Red Sox, in my opinion. Players from the Red Sox’s three recent World Series Championship teams have come and gone. Think about how guys like Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, etc. They have all made any baseball fan think of Boston during the Red Sox’s last decade of dominance. They all are and will always be famous Red Sox, but David Oritz has been there the entire time. When you think of him and his infectious smile, you automatically think of the Red Sox, Fenway, the Green Monster, Championship teams, the movie Fever Pitch.
Keep in mind that you are talking to someone who at one time hated Ortiz and the Red Sox with a passion. Those comeback home runs to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS were just the beginning of the legacy of Big Papi, also called (as I learned today doing some research) Cookie Monster. I despised the Red Sox at one point. I may again if they win another World Series and tie Oakland for third place all-time with nine World Titles before the A’s get their tenth. Right now though, after watching Ortiz for almost two decades, I have to say it. I like him. I do. Earlier I said he has an ‘infectious smile’ which is a statement that could only come from someone who likes the guy. Believe me for a fan of another team it does sound weird, in fact, it feels weird. For right now I have Big Papi’s back for some reason and I was unhappy earlier in the year that they hadn’t already made this deal happen!
Until today thoughts on the situation were, put simply, as follows, “Ortiz wants to stay a member of the Red Sox, he wants to retire a member of the Red Sox and he is beloved by Red Sox fans everywhere, so what is the Red Sox organization doing by just not making him happy? The organization has the money so they should do whatever it takes to make Big Papi happy. PERIOD.” Those were my literal thoughts on the matter until earlier today and I am glad the Red Sox finally did the right thing.
How could anything other than, “do what he wants, make him happy” be going through anyone in that organization’s head? Again, as I said before it was baffling to me that there hadn’t been a deal in place by the end of last season or very shortly thereafter! If Ortiz wants to play, he will play. If Ortiz wants to stay with the Red Sox then the organization should do whatever it takes to make it happen. The entire franchise OWES him after how much he has contributed to their success. The only way to begin to pay that debt back is to let him have what he wants. David Ortiz wants to finish his career as a member of the Boston Red Sox. It certainly seems simple enough.
I am extraordinarily happy that the contract extension includes options for ’16 and ’17. Let him decide when he’s ready to retire. I keep repeating myself but they owe him, PERIOD. That’s why I think that this contract extension is the best news out of the baseball world in a long time. With all the injuries, Tommy John surgeries and players getting struck by line drives, there needed to be some positive news before the season starts. It is good news to everyone, except any true Yankees’ fan of course, to see that kind of loyalty and pride. Even to a former Red Sox hater and current, well, A’s fan who always wants her team to beat Boston, I have to say this is the best news I have heard in awhile. I believe that the extension is well deserved. Ten years ago I most definitely would have told you that there was no chance that I would ever write an article of this nature, EVER. I would have meant it too.
Circumstances change, people mature, old feelings dissipate and here I am in a place where I would have sworn to you in my early 20’s I would never be, cheering because David Ortiz gets to retire with Boston. He deserves it and has earned it and now he has it. That makes me smile. Congrats Big Papi! Even non-Boston fans are happy for you!