When David Ortiz thought it wise to publicly lament his MVP chances vs. the likes of Derek Jeter, I figured I’d give the issue as much regard as the Yank shortstop did. Essentially, let the Sox increasingly outspoken DH embarrass himself and the public would form their own opinion. But when I started to verbalize to my wife how ludicrous some of his thoughts were, I realized my monthly payment of $4.95 to MLB.com for this blog is a better alternative for all parties involved, and is the cheapest price one could pay for marriage counseling.
Ortiz is not alone to ponder the MVP qualifications of Jeter, nor is he off his rocker. But the reasons he states that, as well as his own stumping for MVP, ring as though he just returned from a timeshare on Planet Manny.
"I’ll tell you one thing. If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBI [totaling 137], that’s going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have."
Well, yes, but all this jazz about his individual numbers overlook the Red Sox planning for ’07 with a week still left in August—and that’s tough to do in a wild card era. There’s no denying that at least comparable numbers are being put up by guys who are competing for the playoffs (your Dye, Morneau, etc.).
"But they’ll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse.”
How about “they’ll vote for a better all around player involved in a pennant chase and use that as an excuse”? The argument is old, but the fact that guys like Dye, Morneau, Jeter, and yes, Alex Rodriguez (deserving of the 2005 award, though obviously not this year) are featured on baseball cards that indicate they have positions should indeed give them bonus points. The gobbledygook that “Ortiz does have a position – DH” smells of nonsensical semantics. The very “position” is defined by a lack of a position. ****, I have a position: sitting on my skinny posterior eating Funyons. And I’m **** good at it. Do I get any MVP votes? As the season drags on, playing through August in the Midwest and everywhere else, fatigue sets in, the back shoulder drops a few millimeters and those line drives become pop-ups to the first baseman. Or, if you’re a DH, you can use your 45 minutes between ABs to retreat to the clubhouse, bust out the corn cob pipe, sip an ice cold lemonade and pretend you’re kicking back by the old fishin’ hole. Maybe then tune up with a few cuts in the cage. Curveball pitcher? OK, let’s set the machine on curveball and try to stay back on the pitch.
I’m not saying Ortiz or other DHs are asleep in the lounge, getting a Vietnamese massage during the three hours they are not active during the game. Nor do I think that hacks in a cage perfectly replicate what they are going to encounter. But the chance to refresh in a cool atmosphere versus running around on that diamond and actually focusing on and playing the entire game, day after day, DHing has got to be an advantage. When other teams want to rest a player, that player draws DH duty. Even if he were to split DH and 1B right down the middle for an entire season, he’s got an offensive advantage because he’d be essentially resting every other day. Ortiz has the right to be a DH, and be the best one in the game, but he should be able to enjoy the advantages and the accolades without the delusion that he’s exerting equal efforts as his teammates.
“They’re talking about Jeter a lot, right? He’s done a great job, he’s having a great season, but Jeter is not a 40-homer hitter or an RBI guy. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve done for your ball club, the bottom line is, the guy who hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that’s the guy you know helped your team win games.”
Aside from the tactlessness and dearth of class from such a statement, whether or not your vote is indeed for Jeter, Ortiz seems to honestly think there’s only one way to win a ballgame. I don’t need to detail what Jeter has brought to the table, but a lot more than his “leadership” and “intangibles” have helped the Yanks bury the Sox this year. Though it’s no fault of his own, Ortiz’s great numbers have not had the same results for the Red Sox. MVP is a blurry award, to be sure, but I don’t know how someone in Papi’s position (as it were) stumps for the trophy with such conviction.
"Don’t get me wrong — he’s a great player, having a great season, but he’s got a lot of guys in that lineup. Top to bottom, you’ve got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be."
It’s almost too insane a statement to merit a response. Jeter will have about 100 RBI batting 2nd, in front of a guy who has hit 23 HRs and cleared the bases of the bottom of the lineup. Ortiz will have about 140 RBIs batting 3rd, behind mostly Kevin Youkilis (.385 OBP) and Mark Loretta (.294 avg) and, most importantly, in front of one Manny Ramirez. That slot in the order, in front of Manny, cannot be overstated, and I think leads to the magnified perception of Ortiz as the best clutch hitter the game has seen. I don’t argue Ortiz as being a stellar clutch hitter, but that is heightened by all those walk off hits that has led off so many Sportscenter telecasts. This is certainly to his credit, but I am confident that having the best hitter in baseball over the last ten years pine tarring up his bat in the on deck circle when the game is on the line would lead to an impressive highlight reel by the likes of Jose Offerman. Ortiz is a great hitter, no question. But to lament the talents of those surrounding him should earn him an XXXL sized straight jacket. And it should also chip away at so much good will he has accrued in his time on the team. He is at risk of becoming another Manny – a guy that people appreciate for his exploits, but also question why he does what he does. Perhaps we’d see Ortiz sneak off behind the green monster to use the latrine in the middle of a ballgame, but, alas, he is not on the field playing a position.
"I’m right there, but I’m not going to win it. They give it to [Rodriguez] one year, even though his team was in last place, so now they can’t play that BS anymore, just because your team didn’t make it. They gave it to Alex that year because of his numbers. But they always have a reason to vote for whatever, so that’s why I don’t worry about it."
Ortiz obviously does not have a rotisserie team or he would know that there were no Ortiz-type performances in the AL West that year. Otherwise, he would have the award that he obviously worries so much about.