Life is good for Boston sports fans these days. Bruins fans are gearing up for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Blues and Red Sox fans are relieved to have David Ortiz back in town and recovering.
Ortiz, Boston's favorite adopted son, was shot Sunday night at a nightclub in the Dominican Republic. The bullet went into his back and exited through his stomach.
The beloved retired slugger, known as "Big Papi", underwent emergency surgery in Santo Domingo before returning to Boston on a medical plane sent by the Red Sox. He is continuing his recovery at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“One thing about David -- he's strong, he has no fear, he never shows weaknesses,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a former teammate, told reporters Monday. “Because of that reason, the Lord will be with him. For us that believe, just pray for him.”
Ortiz played for the Red Sox for 14 years and was instrumental in three World Championship runs. Better yet, he helped rally the city after it was shaken by the Boston Marathon bombing.
"This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston," Ortiz told a Red Sox crowd during a tribute to Boston police after the bombing suspect was arrested. "This is our (expletive) city, and nobody's going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong."
Ortiz has many close friends in baseball, including former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols -- who grew up near the Dominican Summer League team Ortiz played for as a teenager.
“I would stay around and just watch them, and miss school,” Pujols told reporters Monday afternoon at Angel Stadium. “And I lied to my aunt later on and told her that I went to school, but I didn’t. That’s the first encounter that I had with him.”
Ortiz is gigantic figure back in their homeland.
“David is everything,” Pujols said. “It’s a shocker, man. I don’t know the details or anything about it, but it’s really a shocker. But as a ballplayer in the Dominican, you don’t see that. People really respect players down in the D.R. It’s just unfortunate. He was, I guess, in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
Miami Marlins executive Derek Jeter was on the other side of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in his playing days.
“When I look at my playing career, and the rivalry that we have with Boston, David was one of the first names that comes to mind," Jeter said. "Everybody knows what he was able to do on the field. But the type of person he is off the field. Getting to know him over the years. What he’s meant to the community, not only in Boston but in the Dominican. This is a guy that’s beloved throughout the sport and sports in general. You just wish him a speedy recovery. It was a complete and utter shock."
Back in the D.R., Eddy Vladimir Féliz García was arrested for the shooting. He was apprehended by a crowd outside the club and handed over to police.
Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:
Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports: "When Albert Pujols was a boy in Santo Domingo he’d gather his school books and his lunch in the morning, say goodbye to his father and aunt, and rather than go to school walk directly to the neighborhood baseball academy, where prospects of the Montreal Expos and Seattle Mariners trained. There, he’d watch a teenaged David Ortiz lift about the highest and longest fly balls he’d ever seen. He wasn’t Big Papi then. He was an overgrown boy with a big laugh and an uppercut swing, standing shoulder to shoulder with a lot of other boys with a love for the game and hazy futures. In time, they became friends and for a time were among the ruling class of Major League Baseball and iconic in the Dominican Republic. Like Juan Marichal. Like Pedro Martinez. Like Manny Ramirez. Like Vladimir Guerrero. Like Adrian Beltre. Like Robinson Cano. They shared an upbringing, a heritage, an outlook on life, and a homeland they taught us about through their baseball and stories of perseverance. They are family, with few exceptions, that extends into the cities and villages and barrios of their island. And so by Monday morning, they scrounged for information from fellow Dominican ballplayers, from folks back home, Pujols himself calling Cano and Edwin Encarnacion and others, hoping to reach one of Ortiz’s security men, giving Ortiz’s wife some space and wanting desperately to call. They are worried. They are afraid. They wonder how it could be."
Michael Baumann, The Ringer: "Late in the evening on June 6, more than a third of the way through the 2019 MLB regular season, the league’s offseason finally ended. The Atlanta Braves agreed to terms with the last big remaining free agent, left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel, reportedly signing him to a one-year contract for about $20 million. Prorated for the remaining time left in the season, it comes to about $13 million . . . Keuchel, a Scott Boras client, won’t get the long-term, nine-figure deal he originally sought, but will get another crack at free agency next offseason at age 32, without the millstone of a qualifying offer around his neck. Last offseason Keuchel turned down a qualifying offer—a one-year, $17.9 million contract tender—from the Astros in favor of testing the open market. In a comically cold free-agent landscape, that qualifying offer was just another excuse for teams not to sign the 2015 AL Cy Young winner, as doing so before the draft would have cost the team that signed him a pick. He’s been in free-agent limbo ever since. Even after the draft ended this week and any team could have signed Keuchel without sacrificing a pick, the Yankees attempted to peg the left-hander’s value to the qualifying offer. New York was reportedly willing to give Keuchel $17.9 million, or $11.5 million when prorated over the remaining 60-odd percent of the season. By rejecting that offer and signing with Atlanta, Keuchel not only made himself an extra $1.5 million, but also ensured that he’ll get to keep his signature beard. For that $13 million, the Braves add a reliable, playoff-tested starting pitcher to a rotation that’s long on talent but short on durability and experience. Atlanta’s pool of potential starting pitchers is outrageously talented, but extremely green; it’s been subject to inconsistent performance, and as the season goes on it could face myriad workload restrictions. Even two of the erstwhile old hands in the Braves’ rotation, 27-year-old Mike Foltynewicz and 28-year-old Kevin Gausman, have ERAs hovering around 6.00. Rookie Kyle Wright allowed 11 earned runs in 14 innings before being sent back down to the minors, and while 25-year-old lefty Max Fried had a 1.38 ERA after his first six appearances, he has a 5.18 ERA in his past eight. Both are incredibly talented former top-10 picks who will probably turn things around eventually. The way things were going, though, one of them was going to have to make a playoff start if Atlanta reached that point."
David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: "At the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, I stood on a packed Lansdowne Street behind the Green Monster during the Home Run Derby and watched ball after ball fly not just over the wall, but over the street and onto the roof of the parking garage. Mark McGwire may have blasted one or two that bounced off the garage and onto the Massachusetts Turnpike. Luckily, no 50-car pileups ensued. It was great theater. The sluggers were hitting balls in places never before seen at Fenway Park. It was assumed something was up with the balls -- they simply weren't supposed to travel that far -- but it wasn't a big deal. It was a Home Run Derby and if you want to juice things up a little bit to make the event more exciting, that seemed OK. Plus, this was McGwire in the year after his epic record chase with Sammy Sosa, when he was still king of the sport. It was all good fun. On Monday, the Arizona Diamondbacks were in Philadelphia. It was a good night to maybe hit a couple of home runs: the wind was blowing out to center field at 7 mph, Citizens Bank is a good home run park and Jerad Eickoff, who had allowed 11 home runs in his past five starts, was pitching for the Phillies. Well, the Diamondbacks would pound eight home runs in their 13-8 victory that featured a mind-numbing 13 home runs altogether -- a major league record, surpassing the combined mark of 12 set by White Sox and Tigers on May 28, 1995, and the White Sox and Tigers again on July 2, 2002. Imagine hitting five home runs and losing the game. The Phillies have company: It's the sixth time that has happened this season."
“In the Dominican, it doesn’t matter if you’re Big Papi or it’s your first time in the big leagues or you’re a minor leaguer, they treat you really good down there. But, David Ortiz, I mean, it’s hard to compare him with a god, because that’s the biggest thing. But, Big Papi, Pedro Martinez, Albert Pujols, Juan Marichal, those people represent everything for our country. You mention his name there, even the little kids who never saw him play know who he is. There’s only one Big Papi and it’s like that all the time. Wherever he goes, he’s very special. So, man, the past 24 hours, just trying to find out any information, has been hard. The most important thing is his health.”
Long-time MLB infielder Jose Vizcaino, to Yahoo! Sports.