Friday, September 2, 2016

A's put a cork in Big Papi's Farewell Tour

Now we know where all the money went from the Oakland A’s endless array of roster-altering, salary-slashing moves. They saved enough to buy David Ortiz a gigantic big ass bottle of wine!
Probably went to Costco to get it.
Oh well. From Money Ball to Money Low Ball.
We know the A’s are cheapskates, but one would think they would have brainstormed and splurged and sent off the iconic Big Papi in grand fashion with a symbolic gift during his Farewell Tour stop in the Oakland Coliseum. Puh-leese! When you think of Oakland, wine isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Oakland is better known for crime than vines.
The Astros gave Big Papi a black Stenson cowboy hat and the Rangers gave him a belt buckle and customized cowboy boots. The Giants gave him a cable car bell and wheeled Hall of Famer Willie McCovey out on the field to present it.
The Dodgers have Ortiz a check for $20,000 to donate to children’s charity fund. Hard to beat L.A. gift.
At least the A’s customized the 3-liter bottle and gave Big Papi something he could keep. When Ortiz visited Atlanta for the last time this year, they gave him – wait for it – a video tribute on the scoreboard! Thanks for the memories, David. Now play ball and high tail it out of here!
The last road trip stop on Papi’s Farewell Tour is Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where Ortiz has been Public Enemy No. 1. Hence, the best going-away gift for Papi would be to retrieve the David Ortiz jersey that was originally buried in 2008 under the concrete at new Yankee Stadium before it was dug up by Yankees fans disguised as construction workers for fear the jersey would forever curse the ballpark.
That jersey, tattered by jackhammers, was donated to the Jimmy Fund, a Red Sox charity.
The Minnesota Twins – Ortiz’s first team – gave him an industrial-sized super hunk 64-ounce jar of peanut butter, yet there’s a nutty story behind that. When Ortiz was with the team, his teammates played a prank of him by spreading peanut butter inside his underpants during the game, a practical joke made even more hilarious when Papi slipped on his tight whities after a post-game shower and walked a few feet before realizing that Skippy was in his skimmies.
Of course, as Minnesota knows, Ortiz got the proverbial last laugh. He has three World Series rings and the Twins have a playoff record of 2-15 since they released him in 2002.  Big Mistake.
In Oakland, where Ortiz hit his 400th career home run on the Fourth of July four years ago, the A’s sent manager Bob Melvin and team president Mike Crowley to home plate to present Big Papi with his present. Normally, opposing teams during Ortiz’s Farewell Tour have greeted him in the pre-game ceremony with former teammate(s).
Unfortunately the A’s have run out of ex-Red Sox. Less than two years ago, there were  five ex-Red Sox players in the A’s starting lineup for their American League wild card playoff game in Kansas City. None of them no longer play for the A’s, though Jed Lowrie is out with season-ending foot surgery after he returned to Oakland this season.
The sad demise of the A’s has been reflected in attitude and attendance. On this night – the beginning of a three-game series for Boston’s only trip to Oakland this year – the crowd was announced at 20,000 – three quarters of them Red Sox fans. You would have to go back to July 28, 1998 to find a quieter crowd for a Red Sox-A’s game in Oakland when 11,632 showed up to watch John Wasdin outdueled Mike Oquist.
Again, Big Papi’s big goodbye deserved more attention in Oakland. And more respect. Public address announcer Dick Callahan introduced Ortiz during the pre-game ceremony as “one of the greatest Designated Hitters of all-time.”
Really? One of? How’ bout “THE greatest …” That’s like calling Sinatra one of the best singers of all-time. Or Donald Trump one of the best reality TV stars of all-time.
Red Sox fans in the ballpark showed their respect and love, though they didn’t get to see much of Big Papi. Batting practice was cancelled because the Oakland Coliseum was finishing the process of the configuring the stadium from Oakland Raiders to Oakland A’s ready. The only thing on the grounds before the game were lines on the football field.
Fortunately, David Ortiz showed up big time. Bon Voyage, Big Papi!


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