As Jeff Passan wrote, "It is May 18, and Ortiz is hitting .311/.395/.674 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. His 1.069 OPS leads baseball. He’s slugging at a higher clip than Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, getting on base more than Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, walking off games as though it’s October 2004 all over again. Guys doing that don’t euthanize their own careers."
"I'm good with the decision that I’m making because I've been thinking about it for a while," Ortiz stated on Tuesday. "It's been a couple years. Because your body, man. Your body tells you. My body, man. My body’s pretty beat up. Remember, if you look at guys my size, they don't last. I noticed that seven or eight years ago. That’s why I needed to start doing things right. I lost 25 pounds. I started eating better, do things better. But let me tell you: It’s not easy, man."
Ortiz went on to touch on the trials they face with regards to travel. "We travel at night pretty much every getaway day. That’s hard for me. I feel it the next day. When you're younger, you get away with it. When you're 40, not so much."
Going to miss that smile at the ballpark?
What most are not aware of, is that after all the seasons and at the age of 40, it hurts Ortiz just to walk. The body is in good shape and responds well to any needed treatments, but his feet. They're the main reason why he is putting an end to his 20 years in Major League baseball.
It is not magic that makes Ortiz such a terror to opposing pitchers and he will tell you himself that he has learned a lot over the last 20 years. He does not want to focus on his age, but more on the craft he has perfected over the years.
"All people talk about is age, age, age, age. Bro, listen. I'm a better hitter now than what I was 10 years ago. You know why? Because now I set pitchers up. My mind doesn’t get any confusion. I used to get confused. I'm gonna sit on a slider. Fastball. Boom! Oh now! Why'd I take that fastball? My whole program I used to change because of that pitch. Now, I decide I'm gonna sit on a slider. Fastball. I don’t care. Fastball. I don’t care. Breaking ball. I don’t care. Changeup. I don’t care. Slider. Here it is."
So what would it take to get Ortiz to not give up on baseball after 20 years in the big leagues?
While the Red Sox have club options for maximum of $16 million dollars for the next two seasons, they seem to be respecting Ortiz's decision to retire for now. He has earned just short of $150 million dollars over his 20 year career, so these options are not really all that tantalizing for him to stay on.
"I'm happy with the decision that I made," Ortiz said, "and my feet are happy with the decision that I made, and my wife is happy with the decision that I made. I think I played enough baseball."
But then he dropped a bomb on us, laughing he said, "Hopefully, nobody comes to me and offers $25 million, either.”
Wait a minute... full stop. Did you catch that Red Sox Nation?
Are you listening Mr. Dombrowski?
Then Ortiz added, "I don’t even want to talk about it, like I said, I'm good with the decision that I made right now. But would you leave $25 million on the table? I don’t want nobody to offer me that."
To be honest, after all this time he would most likely turn down any amount of money offered. He is retiring on his own terms, at his own time and he is doing it in a style that every professional athlete wishes they could duplicate.
It is our privilege to be front row spectators to this final season and our privilege to watch in continued awe as he puts on his final Big Papi show.
Eric is a contributing writer since 2013 and a true Overseas Fan of the Boston Red Sox living in the Netherlands. He's spent years on baseball fields around the world pitching. His weekends are now spent helping the next generations of pitchers to find their passion and love for the sport. More articles by Eric: https://www.redsoxlife.com/search/label/ericschabell