Is David Ortiz the Face of Major League Baseball today?
(Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)
Ben Whitehead Contributing Writer
An uproar occurred on the Twitterverse Sunday evening when Peyton Manning was announced as Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year" for 2013. Those who cover, follow or are just general fans of baseball were flabbergasted that someone not named Mariano Rivera or David Ortiz was the winner of this honor.
In the case of Rivera, I could see it. Everything the closer has done for the game near and afar has been with integrity and purity. But I think Rivera had his moment(s): At the All-Star Game in New York; each visit to an away stadium for the final time; his last time standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium; and there’s plenty more.
Big Papi, though, could not only be considered the Sportsman of the Year, but perhaps the Face of Major League Baseball today.
Ortiz helped the Boston Red Sox become the first club this millennium to win three World Series titles. He has played a huge part in every one of them along the way, including being named the 2013 World Series MVP – reaching base 19 times in 25 plate appearances, batting .688 in the series, had a miraculous grand slam in the ALCS and put the team on his back once more, at age 37 no less.
He’s plastered all over ads and commercials for MLB. In 2012, he was shown on a MLB Fan Cave video going around New York City giving hugs to New Yorkers.
In 2013, he was featured in another MLB Fan Cave video showing off the new wave of walking down the street, Prancercising.
This past weekend, Ortiz held his annual celebrity golf tournament in his homeland of the Dominican Republic. It was attended by MLB stars Alex Rodriguez, Jose Bautista and Adam Jones, and other celebrities including former Red Sox World Champion Kevin Millar, Chris Tucker, Craig Sager, Heidi Watney and Mickey Ward.
The event finished its sixth year and raised money for the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which “raises funds that enable children in the Dominican Republic and the Northeastern United States to have access to the pediatric critical care they need to live full, productive lives,” according to the fund’s website.
Perhaps even bigger in 2013 was Ortiz’s message that he sent in the days following the Boston Marathon bombings. Ortiz, angered by what had happened to “his city,” took the microphone and gave a quick speech to the people inside Fenway Park and watching on TV. At that time, he unleashed a strong statement that has now become synonymous with the city of Boston and its people:
“This is our (expletive) city! And no one is going to dictate our freedom … Stay strong!”
By doing so, Ortiz became a symbol of pride and resilience that all will once again be right in the world. Isn't it ironic how those words - pride and resilience - perfectly describe the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox?
If that doesn’t earn you Sportsman of the Year, I don’t know what does. But Ortiz should be considered the Face of Baseball today, if not for his incredible 2013 season, but for all he has done this year to help a city heal and give to those in need.
Do you agree or disagree? Let us know your thoughts and tell us who should be the Face of MLB.
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