Just because it’s a salient point doesn’t mean we aren’t nauseous. It’s hard enough for New York Yankees fans to give credit to Boston Red Sox players … but to compare one to a fellow Yankees legend? Can’t do it.
But with the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 on the horizon and Red Sox icon David Ortiz expected to get the nod on Tuesday, we couldn’t avoid that reality. We were only a day away! How weren’t we able to make it?!
Joel Sherman of the New York Post appeared on MLB Network Monday night to talk about the Baseball Hall election and spoke about Ortiz’s case, which is controversial since he seems to be the only player exempt from the steroid conversation despite a positive test unearthed from 2003 (though many of his supporters claim it was fraudulent).
Regardless of whether it was or not, every other player who’s merely been associated with performance-enhancing drugs (without failing a test) has been crucified in some capacity and has had their enshrinement delayed or discounted altogether.
Anyway, Ortiz is going to get it, and Yankees fans shouldn’t care because, well, most PED users should get in! Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa all have legendary numbers that made a mark on the game. And so does Ortiz.
What Yankees fans should care about, however, is Ortiz’s case being compared to that of all-time great closer Mariano Rivera.
Joel Sherman comparing David Ortiz to Mariano Rivera should infuriate Yankees fans.
The only aspect of this argument that holds weight is the fact Rivera and Ortiz played positions that are generally overlooked in the greater Hall of Fame debate because of the limited duties they require. Closers and DHs aren’t exactly at the forefront of the “all-time great” conversations.
But the difference here is that Rivera holds MLB records. He’s the all-time saves, games finished and ERA+ leader. He was a 13-time All-Star and won five World Series. He finished top three in the Cy Young voting four times.
As for Ortiz? He has a lower WAR than Rivera. He’s a 10-time All-Star, three-time World Series champ and seven-time Silver Slugger. He’s a member of the 500 home run club. What separates him in this Hall of Fame discussion is his postseason success, which, admittedly, is among the best ever. He hit .289 with a .947 OPS, 17 homers, 61 RBI and 59 walks in 85 career games and was arguably the most clutch hitter of all time.
Also, the best DH of all time is a lot different from the best closer of all time. Closers are tasked with entering the most pressure-filled situations and their margin for error is razor thin. Their “one job” is a lot harder than doing what a majority of other players do on a nightly basis, one that offers multiple chances to succeed in a single game. We’re not discrediting anything Ortiz did throughout his illustrious career, but, like we said, we really do not need this type of comparison to justify the Red Sox great being inducted as a first ballot Hall of Famer.
It’s bewildering enough that the entire community of self-righteous voters have banded together to pay no mind to Ortiz’s positive test. And it’s fine. Let them all in.
But don’t put him alongside an untouchable … because we’ll bet there’s a much greater likelihood a better DH than Ortiz comes around well before a better closer than Rivera does.