Sorry Dan, Papi vs. The Kid debate is not crazy

Bill Foley (@Foles74)
Contributing Writer

On a recent appearance on the MLB Network, grumpy Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said the debate about who is the greatest Red Sox player of all time is just silly.

While Red Sox fans were arguing Ted Williams or David Ortiz, Shaughnessy was saying “Child, please.”
(Photo by Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports)

Despite what the columnist who has publically feuded with Ortiz says, though, the argument is worth having because Big Papi just might be the greatest Red Sox player in the lifetime of any person born after 1960.

Carl Yastrzemski fans, however, might have something to say about that.

Shaughnessy was 7 when Williams hit a home run on his last career at bat on Sept. 28, 1960, so he probably at least remembers the days of the Splendid Splinter. Most of us can only read about Williams’ greatness.

The iconic columnist certainly isn’t alone in his view that Williams is the greatest Red Sox player ever. Until Big Papi flies a combat plane in Syria, I think I’m going to lean toward The Kid in this argument as well.

Williams, after all, was a true American hero and, of course, the greatest hitter who ever lived.

(Ryan MacLeod recently wrote a great piece comparing Ortiz to Williams.)

Perhaps the best baseball moment of my life was when the All-Stars mobbed Williams and his golf cart like they were little kids before The Kid threw out the first pitch at the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park.

To see Tony Gwynn so star struck is all you needed to know about the legend that is Ted Williams.
Ortiz has been pretty special, too. He is, at very least, the greatest postseason player in Red Sox history.

Ortiz, remember, has three World Series rings — four if you count his 2013 MVP ring — that Williams didn’t. None of those titles, especially 2013 when Ortiz was out of this world, would have been possible without Big Papi.

As amazing as Ortiz has been since joining the Red Sox in 2003, it is his play in 2016, when he is 40, that has led to this debate about the greatest Red Sox player ever.

Unfortunately, this debate hasn’t been pretty, especially when you factor in some Yankees fans who, understandably, don’t like Ortiz.

The one sad thing that I have run into while celebrating the greatness of the blistering start by Ortiz in his final season was the number of fans who have criticized the legendary slugger for merely being a designated hitter.

He isn’t a legend or a Hall of Famer, they say, because he doesn’t play a position in the field.

That, Mr. Shaughnessy, is what you call silly argument.

If a designated hitter can’t be a legend or Hall of Famer, then neither can a pitcher in the American League.

Should Nolan Ryan’s years he pitched in the American League not count because he didn’t bat in those years?

Of course they should count. Making such an argument should get you banned for life from watching baseball.

That argument is almost identically as silly as claiming that the greatness of Ortiz could somehow be diminished because he stays in the dugout while his teammates take the field.

What about Mariano Rivera? Is he not a legend because he sat around and did nothing for the first eight innings of a game?

Nolan Ryan and Mariano Rivera are no-doubt Hall of Famers and a true legend of the game. So is Big Papi. At least he should be.

There is no need to recite Ortiz’s stats or rehash his great moments, which just keep coming. We all know them. You don’t have to be Harold Reynolds recognize greatness when you see it.

Granted, Ortiz might not be greater than or equal to Williams. But he is at least entered into the conversation with his legendary career. To say Ortiz is the best certainly is not a silly statement.

When and if Big Papi rolls out in a golf cart to throw out the first pitch before the 2055 All-Star Game, you better believe the stars will be star struck at the sight of a true baseball legend.