The Red Sox have played 87 games so far this season, which means David Ortiz has only 76 games (including the All-star game) left in his illustrious career. Ortiz announced before the start of the season that 2016 would be his final 162 as a professional ball player. Given his career and status as a legend in the baseball community, it was no doubt that he would join the likes of Rivera and Jeter in having a farewell tour around the league.
Tim Duncan retiring brought up a big debate in the sports world when it comes to farewell tours. Duncan retired very quietly after the season, much to his MO, and skipped the attention and praise altogether. This has sparked a debate in the sports community about the necessity for farewell tours.
A lot of people love them, they love watching Ortiz get a cowboy hat from the Astros or a trolley bell from the Giants. Other people prefer the Duncan route where you play your final season, then ride off into the sunset. Why can't it be somewhere in the middle of ceremonies delaying the game and a single tweet?
Deciding whether or not to have a farewell tour is entirely up to the player. Ortiz, Jeter and Kobe all decided they want to be appreciated on their way out, while Duncan did it with a simple thank you after the season. If you decide you want to be appreciated for your career, good for you, players like that deserve it. However, half hour ceremonies that run into actual game time are too much.
I enjoy watching legendary, future hall of famers get appreciated in other cities, because it never happens throughout their careers. Ortiz has been a thorn in a lot of teams' sides, and often got boo'ed when he came to the plate. It's pretty cool to see him come out to a standing ovation in a stadium other than Fenway, and the same goes for Jeter, Rivera, Kobe etc.
When it comes to farewell tours, having the player do a curtain call and tipping his hat to a standing ovation is enough. The fans acknowledge the player's greatness, it's a humbling moment, then let's play ball. I can guarantee Ortiz threw that stupid cowboy hat in the back of his closet as soon as he got home from that Houston series.
With that being said, the All-Star game is the perfect place to say your final goodbyes to baseball. That night, with all it's festivities, is the perfect place for all the drama, all the tears and all the cheesy speeches and gifts.
There is no doubt Ortiz will receive all the attention he wants and deserves tonight. It will most likely take up far too much time, and delay the start of the game, but I'm perfectly okay with that. You have the veterans he's played with mixed with the youngsters that grew up watching him all on the field with him. It will certainly be an emotional, over-the-top ceremony, but it will be a nice gesture for one of the greatest clutch hitters ever.
When it comes down to it, the farewell tours are not a bad thing, but the MLB teams seem to always overdo it. If they limit the celebration to a simple salute to the crowd, it will be a lot more tolerable for players and fans alike. Save the fireworks, tears and speeches for the national audience at the All-Star game.
By Matt Watts