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Praying for Papi

Now, I’m a Red Sox fan so of course I’m rooting for David Ortiz to come around at the plate, but I keep asking myself, who doesn’t want Ortiz to find an end to his struggles?

Yankee fans? Probably as well as the rest of the teams’ fans in the AL East, but watching the lovable giant groan and pout after each at bat is grueling to watch. Listening to his sad comments after the game makes it even more painful. After the worst game of his career where Papi went 0-for-7 with 12 men left on base, he commented to reporters “Sorry guys, I don’t feel like talking today. Just put down, ‘Papi Stinks’ “.

Who doesn’t hear that quotation and just feel bad for the guy? If you’re a reporter dying to get a remark from Ortiz, you hear that and you walk away. Who is going to annoy Papi when he is just depressed? Anger is one thing, but once that anger turns into just sadness, human sympathy takes over.

The smile of David Ortiz is one of the most recognizable things in sports. He’s the happy, smiling, always-there-for-you big man who eats opposing pitchers alive. Well the latter part of that statement is already gone, but amazingly enough, that smile has endured.

Ortiz has remained engaged. He still views video of himself between at-bats in the clubhouse. He hugged Manny Delcarmen after his two scoreless innings, and after Mike Lowell crunched a double, his third hit of the day, off the Wall in the eighth inning, Ortiz was the first Red Sox player to greet him in the dugout (Boston.com – Extra Bases Red Sox Blog)

His personality is amazing that even in the worst of times, he is still the biggest cheerleader on the team. Just look at the reaction when Papifinally hit his first home run of the year. The dugout erupted. The fans erupted. He was mobbed by teammates and hugged by everyone who could get to him. This team loves and needs Big Papi.

I, like many, thought and hoped that home run would break him out of his season-long slump. It didn’t. He’s been even worse since. Amazingly, the fans still haven’t turned.

Fenway is a tough, tough crowd. Every player on the team has heard the boos at least once. David Ortiz heard the boos earlier this season, but now that the slump has reached a level of sad-desperation, the boos have disappeared. Who can boo David Ortiz in a time like this? He’s getting huge cheers before at bats and standing ovations for reaching base. Even after a strikeout, words of encouragement rain down from the crowd.

Many are calling for Ortiz to be dropped down in the order and that seems to be imminent. I agree with that sentiment. Red Sox Nation loves its Big Papi, but they also love winning games and Papi batting third is just killing the Sox. Maybe going down in the order and reducing the pressure is just what Ortiz needs. He understands the situation and knows it may be time for a change.

He also needs to understand that EVERYONE is pulling for him. MLB, the Red Sox, players across the league, the media. Everyone loves this guy and hates seeing him day in and day out with a grimace across his face. His personality is built to fight through this. His teammates can push him through this, as he has done for them before, but more than anything, Papi just needs to look inside himself, and find the hitting-machine that dominated baseball throughout the last few seasons.

We’re all rooting for you, David. Turn the season around!

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