The Boston Globe did a whole section focused on Red Sox slugger David Ortiz today, including a Q&A interview. I was struck by just how direct Ortiz is, especially in contrast to the bullshit-laden interview with an NBA Players Association official that I wrote about last week.
Athletes of this stature usually have two modes: false modesty or “I’m the greatest”. Ortiz knows he’s a big deal and he’s making $14 million a year, but that at age 39, he’s not going to be around forever. He tells the truth as he sees it and doesn’t waffle (and doesn’t just pick hometown favorites, either). Here are some excerpts:
Who is a current player you admire?
“. . . if there is a player right now who I think is amazing, it’s Torii Hunter. We got together the other day and talked and I’m jealous of him. We go way back. He looks like he is still 20 and I got older. It’s unbelievable. He can play another 10 years.”
What is your favorite ballpark other than Fenway?
“You know that. It’s New York. I love hitting in New York.”
Should Curt Schilling be elected to the Hall of Fame?
“I think so, yes. He will be.”
Would you let your son D’Angelo play football?
“No, we wouldn’t. I’ve thought about that for a long time. I love watching football but the issue with concussions has been going on for a long time, not just recently. That’s the game. There’s a lot of hitting. If you had a choice, you can pick your sports. But sometimes football players don’t have choices.”
You need 34 home runs for 500. Is that a big goal?
“It seems like it. Everybody is talking about it. That’s not something I think of. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself. But if you look at history, not too many guys have done that. So, sure, I would like to do that. I go into every year wanting to hit at least 30 home runs. I could hit a couple extra.”
This is a guy who, a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing, told a ballpark full of people and a huge television audience and a city in pain that “This is our fucking city.” And got nothing but praise for it.
Like all stars, David has baggage. In his case, it’s the leak of a “secret” steroid test from 2003. In his own way, he addressed the issue recently by taking his perspective directly to the fans. He hasn’t changed his story since this hit the news. Maybe you think David Ortiz is just another liar. I don’t — he seems genuine to me. He’s earned my respect with his no-bullshit approach.
You could learn something from this guy. I would like to be as respectfully direct as David Ortiz. This means telling the truth even if some people don’t like the answer. Along with his performance, of course, it’s the reason so many fans love him.