By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You’d think that fans of the New York Yankees would have learned their lesson by now about taunting David Ortiz. Provoke him too hard and he will turn his game up another notch. Big Papi fed off the boos that rained down upon him when he entered the Yankee Stadium batter’s box to the tune of 31 career home runs between the two Yankee Stadiums he played at in his career – and that’s not including the times he became the Yankees’ Papi in the postseason.
All those homers and clutch hits, and Yankee fans are still planning on one last “salute” to Ortiz, in the form of thousands of fans in the Yankee Stadium seats dropping their pants and “mooning” Big Papi in his final game in the Bronx.
Seriously, there’s a whole website dedicated to “Moon Big Papi Day,” which will take place on Thursday if the fans stick to their guns. Ortiz already caught wind of their plans, and offered a warning of his own in response to start off a new article in the Players’ Tribune on Tuesday.
“Let me tell you something. If 50,000 people moon me, I promise you two things,” Ortiz wrote. “First, I’m gonna laugh so hard I might start crying. … Then when the tears dry, I’m gonna step up to the plate and try to hit the ball all the way to the choo choo train. You gotta be careful. You guys don’t have Mariano no more, you know what I’m saying?”
Classic Papi. Taking the boos and the bare behinds in stride, winning you over with that giant grin, yet making you pay for poking the bear anyway.
Ortiz admitted that he has love for Yankee fans – “just a little bit” of love, but hey it’s there. He told a series of anecdotes describing the image of New York and the Yankees when he grew up in the Dominican Republic. His community, like many others in distant countries, saw New York as the pinnacle of the opportunities that America promises.
“I got friends and family who love me, but to this day they’re still die-hard Yankee fans. … Now, it’s a little bit different. But back in the day, everybody in my country dreamed of going to New York. Not even as a ballplayer, I’m talking just for the opportunity to work a regular job. We looked at New York City like the American dream. The Yankees were like a symbol of everything. If you wore a Yankees hat, maybe your cousin or uncle sent it down to you from New York, and it was like that hat was a symbol of everything you were dreaming to be.”
Despite the love for New York growing up, Ortiz ultimately felt like he was destined to become the Yankee killer he would turn out to be.
“When I’m standing in the on-deck circle and I hear all those boos, I get this feeling I can’t even describe,” Ortiz wrote. “I’m so focused. My adrenaline goes through the roof. I’m totally locked in. The intensity is just not the same against another team.
“Some players are born to be Yankees, you know what I’m saying? … I was born to play against the Yankees.”
Papi couldn’t resist taking a jab at the Yankees’ business-like culture and how his larger-than-life personality may not have flourished had he donned the pinstripes rather than Boston red.
“The Red Sox let me be me. You see my beard? The Yankees wouldn’t let me have that beard. I’d be shaving twice a day,” Ortiz wrote. “But it goes beyond that. The Red Sox let me say what I feel. They let me be myself. If I was a Yankee, I’d be just like my boy, DJ. … You know, ‘One game at a time.'” (Followed by a wink emoji)
Ortiz sprinkled references throughout the article to the early-2000s Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, which culminated with Boston’s miraculous comeback from being down 3-0 in the American League Championship Series and four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. That remarkable postseason didn’t just change Boston forever – it transformed Papi’s hometown too.
“Now, if you go down to the Dominican, you know what you see in the streets?” Ortiz wrote. “You see still Yankee hats. But you see a whole lotta Red Sox hats, too.”
Ortiz may not have the energy and youthfulness he had in 2003 and 2004 when the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was at its peak. But the 40-year-old still has that fire inside him to shut the fans at Yankee Stadium up, and both parties will have at least one more chance to go at each other.
“When our bus pulls up to Yankee Stadium today, I’m gonna be ready to go,” Ortiz concluded. “And when I hear you boo me, I’m gonna try to hit the ball over that white fence, all the way to the [expletive] choo choo train. … Respect.”
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.