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David Ortiz Is Everything The Baseball Hall of Fame Should Stand For

I get emotional about David Ortiz. How could you not. Even a Yankees fan gets emotional when they speak of what he did to them. It's the opposite end of the spectrum, but it's an emotion all the same. For all of his heroics, Tom Brady had won two Championships before Papi even started writing his lore in American sports history. And yet Boston didn't feel like a winning town until Ortiz entered the Red Sox into the conversation with the 2004 World Series. 

There have been better players to put on a Red Sox uniform. Ruth, Williams, Pedro, hell, Manny was a more fearsome hitter in the same lineup for four-and-a-half years. But I defy anyone to name a more important player to ever step between the lines at Fenway Park. Just as Derek Jeter with the Yankees, where you do it can matter as much as what you do. As does the when. Edgar Martinez should have been elected into the Hall of Fame sooner than he was, he was an amazing hitter. We know that because the numbers tell us so, not because a majority of baseball fans saw it on a regular basis. Which is fine, Trout is already in Cooperstown based on the numbers he's racked up. Ortiz has the numbers, and a cloud of doubt cast by the era in which he played, but that's not why he's a Hall of Famer. 

David Ortiz is a Hall of Famer because if he played in any other era he would have fucking songs, ballads, written about his deeds when it mattered most. It's easier to compare him to Paul Bunyan than his contemporaries. Every single Red Sox fan drawing breath would tell you they called his game-tying Grand Slam before he hit it against the Tigers in 2013. And they would tell you they were still shocked when it happened. Because, much like Brady, even when the stars aligned for the improbable to become possible, their delivery was like something you had never seen before. Reggie Jackson is not a Hall of Famer because of what he did in the regular season. He's Mr. October. David Ortiz is Señor Octubre. He was given that nickname in 2004, and he delivered again in 2007, and then once more in 2013. Because he was as dependable as the goddamn Sun rising in the morning.

The Hall of Fame is a museum, I think that often gets lost in the discussion about who or what should be inducted. It's a building of memories, memories which tell the history of the sport. Go ahead and try and tell the story of baseball without David Ortiz, good luck with that snoozefest. Yeah, he did it for the Red Sox - that matters. If Jeter won five rings for the Kansas City Royals I feel like he'd probably still get in. If Ortiz broke the Cubs' curse and then ran it up for the next decade, I don't think he'd have much trouble getting in. The context in which these great players accomplished their heroics matters tremendously. 

The lack of rings in a team sport shouldn't be held against losers much like it shouldn't be removed from the conversation of winners. I don't know when postseason accolades got removed from the conversation, but that feels like the most disingenuous part of this entire debate. The *entire* point is to be the last team standing. That's it. David Ortiz was as helpful to his team's ultimate success as any player before or since. That's why he's a first ballot Hall of Famer in my eyes. Holding others inability to get into the Hall as reason to keep Ortiz out is an early sign of brain decay. Not giving obvious titans of the sport 100% of the vote because some dickhead didn't vote for Nolan Ryan 30 years ago is also incredibly dumb. 

There isn't a good reason to keep Ortiz out of the Hall, much like there isn't a good reason to keep Bonds out. Not putting Bonds in isn't a good argument to keep Ortiz out. Not putting Andruw Jones in, only voting for Jeff Kent, the BBWAA has done a great job of turning an honor into a clown car. The reason people care about the Hall of Fame is because we all agree it matters. It says that this player was one of the best players to ever play the game when they played. That was David Ortiz: 10-time All Star, Seven-time Silver Slugger, Six top six MVP finishes, ALCS MVP, World Series MVP, face of one of the most important franchises in professional sports. Not voting him in would just be another laughable error in an attempt to erase 20 years of baseball history from the face of the Earth.