Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Papi: A Force of Nature – Lighting Striking Again . . . and Again . . . and Again!

My brain is hard-wired to think in metaphors, so it should come as no surprise that I would choose metaphor to try to find some way to think about and write about what Red Sox slugger, David Ortiz, continues to do at the plate. Last night’s walk-off three-run homerun to the deepest part of Fenway Park is only the latest chapter in a saga that continues to grow beyond all limits of plausibility.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the 1960’s musical sensations whose story is told in the current Broadway smash hit “Jersey Boys,” sang a song that included the lyrics: “Lighting Striking Again . . . and Again . . . and Again!” This past Friday evening, I sat in Fenway Park during a two-hour rain delay. A powerful storm front was moving through the area, and torrential rains and gusting gale force winds turned the ballpark into a replica of a sound stage for the movie, “The Perfect Storm.” It was a spectacular display of Nature’s awesome ferocity.

A storm cell was stalled just east of downtown Boston. As I watched from my vantage point in Section 20 – the grandstands behind home plate – my attention was drawn to a spot in the blackened eastern sky that I could see in the open space between the Dunkin’ Donuts and Ford billboards that bedeck the top of the right field bleachers. During the long interval during which I focused my gaze on that corner of the sky, lighting bolts continued to assault the same spot – dozens of them making the same Zorro slash in the silky curtain of rain and blackness. It was uncanny. Just as I was thinking, “Surely, lighting can’t hit there again!” the heavens would answer with another bolt - full of electricity and wonder.

Lighting struck yet again last night at Fenway Park. Storm clouds quickly gathered in the bottom of the 9th inning around the Indians closer, Fausto Carmona (who can be blamed for thinking about the Mephistopheles legend!). The Red Sox trailed 8-6. A hit and a walk had put the tying runs on base with one out as David Ortiz lumbered his way towards home plate. The air was electric with excitement, anticipation and hope. The Red Sox only win against the Angels last weekend had come when Ortiz hit a walk-off single on Saturday. Was it too much to expect that . . .? The count went to 2 balls and no strikes. Fausto, pitching from the stretch, hurled the baseball towards the plate, and Papi’s bat propelled it on a majestic arc towards the frenzied fans in the bleachers. One of those fans caught the ball; a phalanx of Ortiz’s teammates caught him in their welcoming arms as he landed with his characteristic panache on the pentagonal surface of home plate – scoring the winning run. 9-8, Red Sox!

The crowd erupted – roared, screamed, cheered, applauded, chanted “MVP – MVP,” exulted, embraced - and lingered. It seemed as if no one wanted to leave. He had done it again – hurled another lighting bolt into the night, and left the fans and Fenway - once again – full of electricity and wonder!


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