“The day is going to come where you’re not able to do what you do,” he says. “And once that day shows up, you’ve got to take it to the house. You train yourself to get used to it. It happens to everybody. I don’t want to be the guy who waits too long.
“Here’s my philosophy: I’m gonna keep helicoptering the ball. If I helicopter the ball and it don’t go nowhere, it’s enough.”
...It’s what Cherington tried to replicate this offseason. The locker next to Ortiz’s? Shane Victorino, another signee. Next to his? Gomes’. The Red Sox, so long sabermetric slaves, shook off the objective analysis that said $39 million is too much for an aging Victorino, and a multiyear deal for Gomes is wrongheaded considering never before had the 32-year-old warranted more than one-year contracts. This is no narrative created for them. The Red Sox made it themselves: The happy-go-lucky Sox, taking a sledgehammer to the past, even if the past isn’t all that far away.
“You know, I think the computer is [expletive] up this game a lot,” Ortiz says.
It is pointed out that the computers actually love Ortiz as a player, that the computers sustained his career when the Minnesota Twins gave up on him and the Red Sox picked him up, convinced full-time at-bats would unleash his potential, which, more than 400 career home runs later, they certainly did. None of this seems to change Ortiz’s mind. The fun of 2004 – shots of Jack Daniel’s before the game, Manny Being Manny, “Dirty Water” blaring, Kevin Millar braying to “cowboy up” – embedded itself so deeply into his consciousness, he cannot fathom any other way for a team to win. He was able to slink along in the background with all the other big personalities, a secondary joke cracker, a third-string troll. By no means the center of everything.