For any Red Sox fan the 2013 season has been truly remarkable. Finishing 2012 among MLB's worst seven teams, they now find themselves within one game of clinching the World Series, sharing MLB's highest win percentage with the Cardinals.
This season will be remembered for many reasons, including the way the Red Sox played as a team, with premier and bench teammates playing their roles in the team's best interest, without personality conflicts marring the efforts of the whole. The solidarity among players has been visible in their beards, reminiscent of the House of David barnstorming teams from the first half of the past century.
The playoffs have been memorable, with grand slams by David Ortiz and Shane Victorino being just some of the highlights. And the World Series has not been less exciting. Games 3 and 4 will leave baseball fans with unprecedented memories, including a game-ending obstruction call in game 3 and the equally surprising game-ending pickoff of Kolten Wong in game 4.
These have been spectacular plays, changing within seconds the outcome of crucial games. But baseball is a game of both instant moments and the long haul. And in the latter, David Ortiz is distinguishing himself in the record books. Five games into the series Big Papi has been batting an impressive 0.733 with a 0.750 OBP, placing him only behind Billy Hatcher whose numbers were 0.750/0.800 in the 1990 World Series.
These numbers in themselves are a sufficient argument to justify granting the Dominican slugger the series' MVP. But baseball is not an individual sport, it is a team effort, and as a team member the only Red Sox veteran of the 2004 World Series champions has taken on a crucial leadership role. At the end of game four's fifth inning, after a lethargic batting performance and a series of absurd errors, Big Papi assumed his role by rallying his teammates in the dugout:
He got everyone's attention pretty quick. It was like 24 kindergarten kids looking up into the face of our teacher. We'll keep to ourselves what he said, but the message was pretty powerful. He gave us the kick in the butt that we needed.
A few minutes later, with two outs in the sixth, Dustin Pedroia singled, David Ortiz walked, and Gomes hit a home run that would win the game. The Red Sox have not been behind since.
The World Series isn't over yet. We must wait for at least one more game in Fenway for the outcome. But no matter what happens, David Ortiz has been a Boston icon for over a decade. As he reaches the closing days of his career he has represented the city in times of joy and in times of sorrow. He deserves to wear the "C" on his uniform that no one has worn since Jason Varitek retired. I'm certain that his teammates will agree.
This post originally appeared on http://blogs.umass.edu/marentes/.
Follow Luis A. Marentes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marentesluis