From Derek Jeter to Peyton Manning to Kobe Bryant, we’ve seen a lot of future Hall of Famers limp through their final seasons. David Ortiz isn’t limping – despite dealing with foot and ankle pain on a daily basis.
The 40-year-old is hitting .330 with 24 homers, 79 RBIs and a .423 OBP, as Boston (54-39) leads Baltimore (54-40) by a half game in the AL East.
“Well, first of all, it is a real treat to be watching him day in and day out,” Red Sox chairman and legendary TV producer Tom Werner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Yesterday, he did something (I’ve never seen). I’ve been to a lot of baseball games. He actually hit a ball in batting practice that got stuck in the foul pole. The power of the ball was so strong that it didn’t bounce off it; it got wedged in it. I’m watching history right now. It’s been a treat to watch him play. We tried to dissuade him from retiring.”
Unfortunately, Ortiz’s feet and ankles won’t allow another season.
“What’s even more remarkable is he is playing at a level that is extraordinary with this physical pain,” Werner said. “So I just have great admiration for him. Of course it’s disappointing to know that we’re watching his last season, but we can only appreciate what he’s doing. What he’s doing now is playing at a level even better than what he’s doing previously.”
Looking at the TV side, Werner also discussed “Survivor’s Remorse,” a show he produces with LeBron James and Maverick Carter. The third season begins Sunday.
“LeBron is about a lot, not just about what he does on the court,” Werner said. “We were talking – Maverick and LeBron and myself – about stories about what it’s like really not just to be on the court as a basketball player, but what it’s like to deal with the off-court issues. So this is a show about a fictional player whose name is Cam Calloway, but it’s really about how he and his family deal with his being a superstar. Obviously family is both good and bad, and we have subtexts on the show. It’s about greed and gratitude, but it’s a great show. I’m really proud of it. I urge you to watch it. It’s coming on the air on Starz for the third season this Sunday. Anybody who cares about sports is going to really relate to the show because it’s funny and it’s smart.”
It also mirrors real life. Indeed, if anyone knows about basketball fame and fortune, it’s James.
“When you see it, you’d certainly know that he suggested some storylines,” Werner said. “I don’t think it’s about LeBron any more than it’s about Kevin Durant to Steph Curry. But it’s about a superstar and it’s not easy when you’re 24 years old and all of a sudden you’re playing and you’ve got $100 million in your bank account. It’s really about how he and his family navigate through those issues, and it’s a political show, too – in a good way. It doesn’t put politics before character.”
James, of course, took a political stand with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony at the ESPY’s, arguing for improved race relations in America. Werner loved it.
“I certainly think if you’re doing a story or you’re doing a show that reflects life, especially if you’re doing a show about sports, then you’ve got touch on all subjects,” Werner said. “I’m not saying Survivor’s Remorse is about race, but it’s got to be part of the conversation. These athletes are role models and people expect them to carry on with their lives when they hang up the uniform. So that’s part of what life is, right? I think part of why LeBron is proud of the show is it’s employing a lot of African-Americans – not just as people in front of the camera, but as directors, writers and stagehands. So this show is proving great employment as well. That’s important.”