Bill Simmons started watching the 2013 Red Sox in August, and hey, what do you know, a championship! Time to write about them like he had been paying attention all season (Part 3 of 3)
It's sad it has taken me this long to wade through this. I have missed about twenty great opportunities to comment on Bill's weekly NFL point spreads picks articles, where he is 25 games under .500 (and God knows how many aggregate games under .500 in the last however many years) and keeps saying things like "As for this Chiefs-Broncos game: I'm grabbing the points only because the line should be "Broncos by 3" and I'm getting an extra 1.5 points." (Actual quote.) Oh yeah Bill, are ya? Is it really the case that someone who is now 80-105-6 against the spread this season has the ability to discern 1.5 point errors in the spreads created by Vegas insiders? Or are you just a fucking idiot? This guy is a world class horse's ass. Let's finish out his attempt to pretend to care about baseball at any time other than when the Red Sox are throwing a parade.
I am old enough to remember every Red Sox season since 1975. Baseball is long. Baseball takes forever. It's day in, day out, for six solid months — seven if you're lucky.
Insert joke about Chris W and the NBA playoffs here.
Winning is always fun. But this team? This team was REALLY fun.
Because they won a LOT. Had they won only a medium amount, this team would have been a REALLY big disappointment.
They weren't the most talented 25 guys we've ever had,
Yeah, I don't have time to do a full breakdown of their roster, but what with them only winning 97 games and having like seven All-Star caliber players on the team (granted, only four made the team, but you can make the case for Lester, Lackey, Ellsbury and Uehara being in the neighborhood), I agree. This is only one of the fifteen or so most talented Red Sox teams in their 100+ year history. NO ONE BELIEVED IN US!
but they had a way of lifting each other up and making each other better in ways that — for an individual sport disguised as a team sport, one in which you're on your own just about all the time — make absolutely no sense whatsoever.
For the first three months, I thought we'd remember them as a likable group that helped the city heal after the marathon bombings. We didn't have that one lights-out starter,
Clay Buchholz, as of his injury on June 8: 9-0, 1.71 ERA.
or that second big bopper in the lineup.
Yeah, all they had was a lineup with very good hitters at nearly every position. Other than Will Middlebrooks, every guy who received significant ABs ended up with and OPS+ of at least 111. I'm not going to track down their OPS+ as of June, but suffice it to say, it wasn't exactly David Ortiz and a bunch of all glove no bat guys. This team could hit. Anyone who actually watched them, rather than ignored them because they hadn't won a World Series since 2007, would know that.
You can only go so far with the "everyone lifting everyone else up" thing, right?
Throw yourself in front of a train.
A team with A-list starters — maybe Detroit, maybe Tampa —
Or maybe Boston, with Buchholz (ERA+ of 234), Lackey (116) and Lester (109)
would rip through us in October and that would be that.
WE NEVAH HAVE POSTSEASON SUCCESS! IT'S NAWT FAY-UH
I never thought they had a higher ceiling until August, right around the time Koji Uehara turned into Dennis Eckersley circa 1989.
Which, as the commenter from like a month ago pointed out, was probably the first time all season Bill watched a game.
You need weird shit to happen during the season to win a World Series; this season certainly qualified. In mid-August, they outplayed a scorching-hot Dodgers team in Dodger Stadium; that's the first time I remember thinking they had a chance.
Or, again, the first time he remembers tuning in to watch them. J-BUG SAID THEY WERE THE REAL DEAL AND I HAD TO WATCH WITH MY KEEN GAMBLING-ATTUNED EYE TO MAKE SURE. 6 TO 1 TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES AS OF AUGUST 1? THAT LINE IS TOO HIGH, VEGAS! THANKS FOR THE FREE MONEY!
They protected home-field advantage in September, rolled through Tampa in the ALDS, then everything crashed in the ALCS. Their bats died for 16 solid innings. Sanchez and Scherzer
When he first wrote this, he said "Verlander and Scherzer" (they published a correction later), because, you know, he totally is a big Red Sox fan who watches every game, even when they're not playing well.
weren't just shutting them down; they were eviscerating them.
They weren't just pitching well. They were pitching REALLY well! Pulitzer please!
And then the eighth inning happened … and this happened.
AND I GOT A TEXT ABOUT IT AND TURNED THE TV BACK ON TO SEE HIM CIRCLING THE BASES!
[Ortiz grand slam video goes here; apologies to all readers in Michigan]
He came through. Again.
So here we are, about 3000 words into this piece: we're finally ready to hear about David Ortiz. DID YOU KNOW HE PLAYED SMALL FORWARD ON HIS MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL TEAM? HIS FAVORITE PLAYER WAS A CERTAIN 6'8" GUY FROM FRENCH LICK INDIANA (MAYBE YOU'VE HEARD OF HIM)?!?!?!?!?!
The playoffs were never the same.
Horrendous, terrible, horrible, gut-wrenching writing.
The Beards ripped off eight wins in 11 games, more than enough for Boston's third World Series title in my lifetime. My friend Sully summed it up best via text: "Aidan's (his 12-year-old son's)
DON'T ACT LIKE YOU DON'T CARE!!!! MY FRIEND MADE A BABY! BE IMPRESSED!
reaction was like, 'Cool, another championship.' They have no idea that this doesn't happen." They really don't. I never thought I'd see one … and I've seen three in 10 years. Huh????
Die die die die die die. The only reason I didn't put that in ALL CAPS was to distinguish it from the mean things I'm saying as Bill's proxy. Trust me, I meant DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.
We'll remember 2004 for all the obvious reasons.
We'll remember 2013 for Boston Strong and the beards, and over everything else, for David Ortiz. And that's the case for three reasons.
1. We thought he was done.
Steroid joke here. Honestly, I don't even hate Ortiz, so I don't really want to get into bitter specifics on my own. But after the way 2009 was his worst season ever (.238/.332/.462 as a 33 year old) and he way he started 2010 (.185/.267/.407 through mid-May) it's kind of hard to believe he became a 4.4 WAR .309/.395/.564 player as a 37 year old in 2013. I'm not some rosary-clutching loser who thinks steroid users are worse than war criminals. I'm just saying, do I think David Ortiz uses steroids? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm no comment.
This has to be mentioned. I wrote Papi's baseball eulogy in June of 2009, when his body was (seemingly) breaking down and he couldn't get around on 89 mph fastballs anymore. Boston fans loved him so much that they never booed him
WE NEVAH BOO OW-UH GUYS UNLESS WE FEEL LIKE DOING IT AT THE TIME
— every Ortiz failure was greeted with an awkward silence, the ultimate respect for everything he meant. I can't remember another sound quite like it.
You mean, like silence? The same sound you can get pretty much anywhere on Earth at any time?
You almost wanted to hear a few boos,
No you didn't, this is just awful writing.
if only to temper the collective discomfort. But no Boston fan could boo that guy, just like we could have never jeered at Bird or Orr. My final takeaway in that column: "Barring a miraculous return of bat speed, he'll be benched or released soon. It'll hurt, and I'm going to feel bad. I already do."
I HAVE DROPPED HIM FROM MY AL-ONLY 14 TEAM KEEPAH LEAGUE! LET ME TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE 16TH ROUND OF THE DRAFT LAST SPRING! IT IS RIVETING!
But wait! His bat speed eventually returned. That same season, Ortiz's name got "released" in connection with a positive result from a 2003 MLB drug test that was supposed to be anonymous, a stigma that trails him to this day. The details of that report were so murky, nobody can fully explain what happened — more than 100 players apparently tested positive for something, only they weren't breaking any baseball rules because there were no rules in place, and they could have triggered a positive test for amphetamines or some now-illegal supplement that wasn't illegal in 2003. Ortiz professed his innocence, although Boston fans would have preferred that he did it a little more belligerently. The moment passed and he hasn't failed a test since. He's never been involved in a Biogenesis-type scandal, outed by a clubhouse attendant, tied to some shady Victor Conte character, anything. He looks exactly like he looked in 2003; if anything, he's a few pounds skinnier.
But he's also 37 years old (he will be 38 on November 18), and he's cranking 98 mph fastballs, and he looked finished four years ago. So I get it. After everything that happened these past two decades, we're always going to be a little suspicious. Of everybody.
You know what, that's way more than I'd expect Bill to acknowledge. That's actually only 75% biased and idiotic. But yeah, Ortiz is probably on steroids. Peter King says MAYBE. THAT'S A LEGIT 75% CHANCE.
But if you examine his 11-year Boston run as a whole, it makes a little more sense: His first Boston season in 2003 (31 homers, 101 RBIs, .288/.369/.592) doesn't look much different than his 11th Boston season in 2013 (30 homers, 103 RBIs, .309/.395/.564).
If you compare his numbers from when he was in his athletic prime to his numbers from when he was at the age that most professional athletes get put out to pasture, they're basically the same! That PROVES that he's clean!
Bill Simmons is a fucking jackass.
Even if his 2013 World Series numbers look supernatural — 25 plate appearances, 11 hits, eight walks, two homers — really, he just caught fire for five games after slumping the previous series (2-for-25), then they smartly pitched around him in Game 6. Did you know his regular-season OPS in Boston is the exact same number as his playoff career OPS (including his trip with the 2002 Twins)?
Fascinating! Who gives a flying violent fuck, in the context of a discussion as to his value to the 2013 team, his likelihood of steroid use, and his relationship to Bill Russell?
It's true — .962 for both. Big Papi has looked the same for 11 years, barring a couple of peaks (2004 through 2006) and valleys (the homestretch in 2008, the first three months of 2009 and 2010). I don't know what else to tell you.
You could tell us it's suspicious as fuck that a 33 year old cratered, and then was back to being a superstar at 37. That's one option. In fact you DID tell us that, you just failed to draw the world's most obvious conclusion from it.
In a vacuum, this goes down as the second-greatest career comeback in Boston sports history behind everything Ted Williams did after Korea. Ortiz was finished, then suddenly he wasn't.
/Larry B has head in hands
2. Five days after the Tsarnaev brothers blew up Boston's most sacred event, and just 24 hours after one brother was killed and the other was caught, everyone decided that it was OK to play baseball at Fenway again.
MLB and John Henry decided it was OK to play baseball at Fenway again, because 1) the bombers were killed/caught, and 2) there was money to be made.
The game happened on a Saturday afternoon, preceded by an emotional ceremony and many prayers. You always hear that tragedies put sports in perspective, that they prove we shouldn't care this much about the successes and failures of a bunch of wealthy strangers. I'm going the other way — sometimes, sports put everything else in perspective.
Horrible, terrible, head banging against wall god awful writing. Klosterman would be proud though. SECRETLY IT'S ACTUALLY PERSPECTIVE THAT PUTS EVERYTHING ELSE IN SPORTS! THINK ABOUT IT!
Our favorite teams bring people together, keep family members close, bond people from different generations.
Other thing that brings people together, keeps family members close, and bonds people from different generations: being close to people, being family with them, and interacting with them.
Some of the happiest moments of my life involve something that happened with one of my teams. Some of the best relationships I ever had were with Boston athletes that I never even met. That's a bad thing?
Yes. The happiest moment thing, I won't lie, I actually agree with. Some of my happiest moments do non-sarcastically involve sports. The relationship thing? This guy is a huge fucking loser.
Of course, we always worry that these guys don't care about us.
Only if we're insecure and are desperate to think that OW-UH GUYS play the game the right way BETTAH THAN YO-AH GUYS. Any of us who are rational just want to see our team win because we like our team, and we don't really care very much about whether the players are deeply invested in the team or just there to make a buck. Because we're not fucking stupid.
That they're just passing through, throwing on some laundry, cashing some checks and pretending they care. We've all been burned by favorite players.
You start throwing your guard up after awhile,
Holy Jesus, melodramatic much?
and eventually you stop caring quite as much …
When your team goes a few years without winning a title...
even if you don't want to admit it. I am 44 years old now, a million years away from being the kid who lugged his autographed, framed Clemens/20 K's photo to six different apartments before breaking it into pieces in the seventh.
Terrible writing; were these apartments he lived in, or apartments he visited in an effort to track down Clemens to get him to autograph it again?
It's really hard to rope me in at this point. But when Ortiz grabbed the mic on that Saturday and screamed, "THIS IS OUR FUCKIN' CITY!!!!!," I don't think I've ever been prouder of an athlete.
Non-sarcastically, I kind of agree. I love profanity on TV. Although I find it annoying that the FCC didn't fine FOX, or whoever televised the game, because the director was a Red Sox fan. You'd better believe that if the bombing happened in Phoenix and Paul Goldschmidt swore on TV, there would have been fines galore. America is full of retards.
3. He's been the life of the World Series party three times now — 2004, 2007 and 2013 — and over everything else, that's when the David Ortiz era becomes historically fascinating.
No. Lots of players have won three rings with the same team in non-consecutive years.
By the time I graduated college, Bird, Russell, Orr and Williams were the big four. All discussions started and ended with them.
He's 44, born in or around 1969. Graduated college in or around 1992 (because he went to prep school, the spoiled fuck). WHAT ABOUT THE GREATRIOTS, BILL? WHY WASN'T TONY EASON IN THE DISCUSSION? Oh that's right, the Patriots weren't good yet. I'm obviously trolling because there is no Patriot from the 1960s through 1990s who compares to Bird, Russell, Orr or Williams. But I can happily say that although I would sooner throw myself into a volcano than become Bill Simmons, if I am still writing about sports when I'm 44, I'll have no qualms with talking about my favorite Rockies and Nuggets from days gone by. That's because I'm not a frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrontrunner (Do we have a label for that? We should).
In the 2000s, Tom Brady made his run … and if the 2007 Pats had finished 19-0, he would have joined them.
BUT HE DIDN'T WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP THAT YEAR, HE ONLY WON THREE OTHAHS, AND HE MADE ME SAD WHEN I BAWT TICKETS TO SUPAH BOWL FO-AHTY TWO AND WORE MY RANDY MOSS JERSEY, SO HE'S NAWT IN THE PANTHEON.
Right now, he's still standing outside the front door waiting for the bouncer to let him in. To be continued.
But Ortiz? We thought the bouncer shooed him away a while ago. Now he's back. He just cemented his reputation as one of the greatest clutch Boston athletes ever, and one of the greatest clutch baseball players, too. He came through time and time and time and time and time again. So many times that I can't even keep track, actually.
Evidently you haven't been, because as you said yourself, Ortiz's regular season OPS in Boston is the same as his playoff OPS (.962). It's higher than his career OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position (.945), in "late and close" (as defined by baseball-reference.com) situations (.875), and "high leverage" (also bbr) situations (.936). Basically, he's always been really good; no better, and perhaps a bit worse, when it was 6-0 in the 4th inning of a game in May than when it was 2-2 in the 8th inning of a playoff game.
Throw in his personality, throw in the iconic "our city" moment, and throw in the stakes — nothing from 1919 through 2003, with people living entire lives and dying without seeing a Red Sox title — and I think the bouncer just let him in.
Bill Russell and Bobby Orr and Ted Williams > Larry Bird >>>>> Tom Brady >>>>>> David Ortiz.
And you know what else? It's a great place. It's the best place. You get to live forever in there. People tell stories about you to their kids, and their grandkids, and they can always say they saw you play. You might even get your own statue downtown someday. Tomorrow, it happens for the great Bill Russell. Someday, it will happen for David Ortiz. It will.
Worst. Callback. Ever. Fuck this guy.