Big Papi Always Sets The Record Straight In The Fall

Boston was already up 5-0 when Big Papi did his usual postseason two-step and blasted a seventh-inning two-run homer into the Fenway bullpen to put an accent on a Game 1 that had Red Sox written all over it.

Why was it a foregone conclusion that Big Papi would do something miraculous on the grand stage? Just check your MLB history books. Big Papi is a guaranteed lick in any WS game. He’s a walking WS wrecking ball, and his mystique grows exponentially in the Fall Classic.

Papi impacts playoff games as much as any player ever. The fact that he is a designated hitter, who doesn’t play the field, actually limits his chances to make game-changing plays, but the way he constantly seizes the moment, you wouldn’t know it.

He’s a walking contradiction; as one dimensional as they come and as multi-faceted a hitter as you will see.

His plate-performance yesterday, and his soul-selling deal with the baseball gods has risen to a next level. Why do you think he points up to a higher power after every dagger he delivers into the seats ?

If Game 1 didn’t confirm that David Ortiz is the most frightening batter left in these playoffs, then by Game 4 everyone will know. It’s business as usual for the Bean Town Basher. He delivered three Red Sox runs in an easy 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals that extended the Red Sox WS winning streak to nine games dating back to the 2004 sweep of these same Cardinals.

He stroked a near grand slam in the second inning that St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran—the other money postseason performer in these World Series—bruised his ribs making a spectacular catch at the wall.

Papi didn’t get the homer, but he did drive in a run from third and the blow sent Beltran to the hospital. Now, the Cardinals greatest postseason weapon—their Big Papi Equalizer—is questionable for Game 2 and compromised for the series.

Papi is George Foreman in a Sox jersey. He goes blow-for-blow with legends and defies age and circumstance to more often than not, come out on top. When it’s crunch time, Ortiz is always in the mix, getting his hands dirty in some form or fashion.

In this case, it was eliminating Beltran, one of MLBs all-time playoff performers (and failures). The eight-time All-Star entered the game hitting .337 with 16 homers and 37 RBIs in 45 career postseason clashes. He’s also scored 44 runs, stolen 11 bases and compiled a .724 slugging percentage. Like Papi, he’s kept his gangster playoff rep intact with 12 RBIs in the NL playoffs so far this year.

Ortiz doesn’t fear history. Actually, he usually meets unfavorable odds head on and twists history with the same force and impression that he turns on fastballs with.

Big Papi first made his mark with his walk-off homerun in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS that sparked Boston, as they became the first team in history to comeback after being down 3-0. His first-inning shot in Game 7 of the series gave Boston the early boost it needed to complete the unthinkable, prompting FOX analyst Tim McCarver to say, “Mt. Everest strikes again.”

That was just his sixth career postseason homer. He’s had a few more since then, as Papi continued to rake in October in 07’ against the Rockies. Unsurprisingly, he’s doing the same in 2013.

Ortiz has an underwhelming .277 postseason career average, but if the term quality not quantity ever applied to a person, it’s in his case. Big Papi also has 16 home runs and 57 RBIs in 77 games, and none bigger than his game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the eighth in the ALCS against Detroit. The majestic blast basically ripped the hearts out of the Tigers and finished them off emotionally.

Detroit had a chance to go up 2-0, but Ortiz changed the fortunes of the entire series. In an eerily similar situation to Beltran, centerfielder Torii Hunter flipped over the wall trying to snag Ortiz’s homer and was laying in the Red Sox bullpen on his back, banged up like he just went head on with a truck.

He did—a Dominican model that seems to run better and more effectively with age. Hunter was never the same that series, and neither were the Tigers. It’s not far-fetched to expect Beltran to experience that same fate.

MLB’s bowling ball, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, deserves his props as a clutch catalyst, too. Since his arrival in 2006, he’s been a vital cog of the Red Sox machine. Papi’s impact is like having Shaq on your team in an NBA Finals. He transcends the game and leaves you anticipating the next intimidating and earth-shaking assertion of his dominance over the situation. We can't ignore lethal lefty Jon Lester’s 7 2/3 scoreless innings last night either, which also extends his consecutive WS scoreless streak to 13 1/3 dating back to the Game 4 clincher against Colorado in 2007.

Baseball is all up in your head, and mentally Ortiz is convinced that he is Spartacus, and when the 37-year-old slugger smells blood, the kill usually follows. He’s as battle-tested as they come, causing pitch-by-pitch constipation and consternation for opposing managers, pitchers and fans alike. Strange things happen when Big Papi is around. The Cardinals usually reliable defense went south, ace Adam Wainwright just didn't have it and the umpires indecision didn't help.  

There’s been no greater baseball war hero than Ortiz. When he changed the course of Red Sox history and broke an 86-year WS drought with his mythical 2004 performance, he broke down walls of dismay and liberated a legion of Red Sox fans lost in a torture chamber of pessimism and hard luck. He’s looked the indestructible Yankees in the face (a team that traditionally had Boston’s number) and became their worst nightmare.

Here he stands again, with a chance to alter history. Boston and St. Louis met up in the WS in 1946, 1967 and 2004, with the Cards taking the first two. A win here and Boston is on equal footing with St. Louis. Big Papi’s really still around, rocking his Teflon Red Sox jersey for the sole purpose of evening things up a bit. He’s like the guy in that old TV show, “Voyager”, traveling through time rearranging history.

He’s shifted through steroids allegations, a vicious slump that had people predicting his demise, a quick but ugly rebuilding process and was a therapeutic god-send for the city of Boston following the 2012 Marathon Massacre.

If Reggie Jackson is Mr. October and Derek Jeter is Mr. November, lets call Papi Mr. Fall, because that’s what happens to his competition when he’s in his World Series zone.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.