Thursday, June 02, 2005

God has a name ...

And it's David Ortiz.

(Thanks to for the pic)

The Sox have been playing about .500 for the last two or three weeks, and worse than that, they've been playing without any spark. They'd win one, lose one, win two in a row, lose three in a row, sunrise, sunset. Today, they were on the verge of losing a tough game to the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

The O's scored one in the ninth to break a 3-3 deadlock and their ace closer, BJ Ryan was coming in from the pen. It looked like a typical Sox loss, twice bases loaded opportunities went by the board, Matt Clement pitched ok but not great and Ketih Foulke looked snakebit. But something happened, Mark Bellhorn singles, Kevin Youkilis Ks and then Edgar Renteria bunts for a hit. Men on first and second and up steps Big Papi.

He runs the count to 3-2 and then unloads a lazer into the blacked-out seat section of the bleachers. Just a tremendous clout. Game over, enjoy the ride home. Here's the thing about walkoff homers and Ortiz, he's done it five times in his brief (a little over two years) Sox career. FIVE TIMES, and did the deed twice in last year's playoffs.

Though I may not understand every single statstic, I lean towards the Sabremetrician way of thinking, mostly that stats are the best indicator of how good a ball player really is, but Ortiz is a man that comes along once a generation. For some uncanny reason, this dude just has a flair for the dramatic especially on the big stages. I doubt that there is any real way of proving how "clutch" someone is, but if there was Ortiz would have to be off the charts.

Basball is a funny game as it's amazing to me that this guy was once fighting for playing time behind Jeremy Giambi. Now he's in the upper echelon of power hitters, a couple more ding-dong Johnsons like this one (and the two he hit on Sunday at Yankee Stadium) and Ortiz will be staring at the 2005 American League Most Valuable Player award.

On the Boston Sports Media board, someone compared Ortiz to Tom Brady, and I have to agree. More often than not, this guy doesn't just rise to the occasion, he stands the fuck up and knocks the occasion on its ass. With last year's departure of Pedro Martinez, I believe that I have found a new favorite player, and his name is David Ortiz.

I just finished reading this tome on the flight home from Atlanta:

In April of 1992 I was trying to plow through "Helter Skelter", get off the baseball bench and figure out how to nail Leah Murphy without Rebecca Donahue knowing. During this time, other people were planning real adventures with their lives. One of these people was a person by the name of Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp.

Two years previous, McCandless graduated Atlanta's Emory University, told his parents that he's going to take "some time off" and began an adventure that most people only dream of. Did I mention that McCandless decided to leave all trappings of society behind him? He took the $24,000 he had in his savings account and donated it to a hunger relief organization, abandoned his car and most of his possessions in an Arizona desert and just began living the life of a nomad.

All along the west coast, McCandless hitched from one experience to the next. He lived in a few comunes, worked at a grain elevator in South Dakota, a McDonalds in San Diego and just wandered. Inspired by Emerson and Tolstoy he decided it was time for the "ultimate adventure", he was going up to Alaska to live in the wilderness with nothing more than a book on edible plants, a really crappy gun, a travel fishing pole, some books and the clothes on his back.

He never made it out alive.

Krakauer tries to piece together a few things in this book:

1. Why did McCandless do this?
2. What happened to the guy, how did he really die?
3. Why does Krakauer feel such an attachment to McCandless?

The writer does a terrific job with the first two questions. Drawing on McCandless' friends, family and people that picked him up while hitch hiking, we are able to get a good picture of what drove this upper-middle class into the wilderness. From McCandless' diaries and snapshots, Krakauer was able to piece together the last few days of his life, especially the agonizing way that he died.

The final question is where the book gets a little soupy, it's pretty obvious that Krakauer ran into a wall with the book's subject, he originally had written this tale as a story for Outdoor magazine, and it seems like he needed to fill up a few chapters. In order to do this, he wrote one chapter about the other famous men who were lost and presumed dead in the Pacific Northwest (which was really interesting) and a chapter about him trying to climb Devil's Thumb in Alaska.

This wasn't too bad, but it was sort of clummisily written. While it gave a first-hand account of the perserverance that McCandless needed, it was also melodramatic and seemed to plod along. Plus, I wanted to find out more about McCandless.

All in all, this was a fascinating book about what goes through someone's mind when they just have enough of modern life and decide to move to the sticks. At one point or another, every man has wanted to do it, but it's much harder than it looks. If you aren't well prepared and always careful, you can wind up dead, which might be the escape that McCandless was actually looking for.

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