By KATELYN MASSSARELLI
Coming off the field against the New York Yankees on Sept. 28, the Boston Red Sox were stunned after Mark Texiera hit a walk off grand slam off Joe Kelly. But, once the team had reached the locker room, they began to pop bottles of champagne because they had still clinched the AL East division due to a Baltimore Orioles victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
This has been a heartfelt season for the organization and Red Sox fans everywhere with this being designated hitter David Ortiz’s (#34) final season before retirement. Before starting the post-season, back at Fenway Park the Red Sox honored Ortiz with a home ceremony which included the announcement of Ortiz’s jersey number to be retired.
With all the excitement for the team, the Red Sox fans at UT were thrilled to see how the team did in the playoffs. “I’m ecstatic that the Red Sox made it to the playoffs, especially in Big Papi’s [Ortiz] final season,” said Austin Urfer, a sophomore cybersecurity major.
Every Red Sox fan out there was hoping to say by the end of this season that they watched Ortiz end his career with his fourth World Series win. Unfortunately, the Red Sox ended the season with a loss against the Cleveland Indians on Monday Oct. 10. Making playoffs was no doubt an exciting time for the Red Sox, but how will the next season play out after losing Ortiz?
In one perspective, the organization has had Ortiz, arguably one of the best hitters this team has ever had, as one of their most useful players since his debut with the Red Sox back in 2004. Though losing a star veteran, the Red Sox have some great young talent and old veterans that will be able to step up come next season.
Infielder Xander Bogaerts (#2) and outfielder Mookie Betts (#50) are two prime examples of the pure talent presented on this team. Bogaerts made his debut with the Red Sox back in 2013 and has managed to make a name for himself with the fans of Major League Baseball. Betts was first drafted in 2011 by the Red Sox in the fifth round and made his debut in 2014. Since then, Betts has become an idolized player whom fans love to watch play because his game is strong. Just this season, Betts has hit 31 home runs out of 54 total career home runs. His career batting average surpassed veteran players like Ortiz and infielder Dustin Pedroia (#15).
As far as veteran players, Pedroia has been with the Red Sox since the team picked him in the 2004 draft in the second round sixty-fifth overall. This was also the same year the Red Sox broke their 86-year World Series curse by winning the organization’s sixth title.
A year prior to breaking the curse, in 2003, the Red Sox picked up Ortiz. Since he joined the Sox, he has been idolized by Red Sox nation everywhere.
A relatively new player to the Red Sox, pitcher David Price (#24), was drafted back in 2007 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the first round as the first overall pick. Since his debut in 2008 with the Rays, Price has won 121 games his entire career next to 65 losses and has managed to get 1600 career strikeouts.
Although the team has a strong set of players, according to Red Sox fan and senior english major Amber Pelletier, the Red Sox have lost the team energy they had around the time Ortiz was still a new player to the Red Sox.
“I think as a franchise the Red Sox have taken hits — especially since 2005 when there was the strong spirit and the named ‘classic’ players like [outfielder Johnny] Damon, [infielder Hanley] Ramirez, and Ortiz,” Pelletier said. “Now that Ortiz is on the way out I think that it is just another blow to the spirit that used to be in the team.”
Ortiz will no doubt be a huge loss to the organization and the team, so the Red Sox are going to be forced to work up the newer players. Next season will be the indicator of how well this organization will do without Ortiz. The Red Sox home opener next season will be April 3, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Katelyn Massarelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org