Dear David Ortiz,
The game just ended, and your career is over. I don’t think I have been more disappointed since the 1986 World Series.
I was fifteen then. I’m rather older than that now, but I still pictured your swan song through the eyes of a backyard fantasy. I pictured the swing. I pictured the ball in it’s no-doubt-about-it flight deep into the night. I pictured Fenway standing as one as Don Orsillo would say, and screaming themselves hoarse as Don Orsillo would do. I pictured the jog around the bases, the helmet toss, and the hop on home plate.
Heck, I even pictured how I’d write about it—turns out some gods do answer letters.
But as disappointed as I am, I refuse to think of your career in sad terms. You have brought me more joy than almost anyone else in this life.
I remember when you first arrived. You joined a pretty good team that was looking for a little more from first base—a little help to go from being a good team to a championship team. I remember when you took the job and didn’t let go.
I didn’t like how that season ended, but the next one? Well, 2004 will always be with me and your heroics that year will always remind me what happens when you keep faith not in miracles but in people.
That feels like a lifetime ago and it is in no small part because you took a team that couldn’t ever manage to get over that last hurdle and turned it into a team people hated for winning so much. On your watch, the Sox lost in the playoffs in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2016 and while the last one still stings, the unutterable joy of 2004, 2007, and 2013 will ease that pain.
I already miss you. I miss your smile. I miss your swagger. I miss the way you spoke for my city and my team the way so very few ever could. You leave behind a team that should be very good even without you but I rather suspect I will never stop missing my Big Papi.
Enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.