It’s June 10, 2016, and the first-place Minnesota Twins are on a roll once again.
Led by their beloved slugger and statewide icon, David Ortiz, the Twins are taking on the Boston Red Sox, who are desperately seeking to break “Curse of the Bambino” as the 100th anniversary of their 1918 World Series title approaches.
If you’re wondering what the heck we’re talking about, the above scenario is what could have happened had the Twins not made the fateful decision to release Ortiz after the 2002 season, even after he hit .272 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs in that campaign.
Of course, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan did decide to let Ortiz walk, the Red Sox scooped him up in free agency on Jan. 22, 2003, and the rest is history. But what would history look like if the Twins had decided to keep Big Papi? Ahead of Boston’s three-game set in Minnesota, Ortiz’s final trip to the city that let him go, we let our imaginations run wild.
1. The Twins win a World Series title and become perennial contenders.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: The Twins had a very good team that could have been great had they kept Ortiz. They won 94 games and reached the American League Championship Series in Ortiz’s final season in Minnesota and boasted a solid core led by outfielders Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter, catcher A.J. Pierzinski, closer Eddie Guardado and budding young starter Johan Santana. The Twins actually had a few good years after Ortiz’s departure but have yet to reach the ALCS since. With Ortiz and a few more pieces, they very well could have brought a World Series to the Twin Cities.
2. Manny Ramirez ditches Boston to join the New York Yankees.
Ramirez signed with the Red Sox before the 2001 season and immediately formed a dynamic duo with Ortiz upon his arrival in 2003. The Red Sox considered trading Manny several times during his seven-plus year tenure in Boston, but Big Papi’s lobbying on behalf of his fellow Dominican Republic native played a part in keeping Ramirez around. Manny lived in New York at a young age and openly talked about playing for the Yankees some day. With Ortiz out of the picture, it’s very likely the All-Star outfielder would have joined the Evil Empire.
3. Alex Rodriguez, not Ortiz, becomes the Red Sox’s star slugger.
Remember that time the Red Sox almost traded for A-Rod in 2003? The MLB Players Association rejected the deal because it asked Rodriguez to take a too much of a pay cut. But if the Sox hadn’t signed Ortiz, Theo Epstein and Co. might have been able to give the star infielder just enough money to satisfy the MLBPA. That would have brought A-Rod to Boston instead of New York, where he would be launching balls over the Green Monster as the team’s most feared slugger. Imagine that?
4. The “Curse of the Bambino” lives on.
Perhaps the greatest example of Ortiz’s impact in Boston is that the Red Sox probably wouldn’t have won any of their three most recent World Series titles without him. If the Sox hadn’t signed Ortiz, their designated hitter in 2003 would have been Jeremy Giambi, who actually started the season as the club’s DH. Giambi hit .197 in 50 games that season and didn’t play another major league game after that. Add in all the clutch hits Ortiz delivered in each of Boston’s championship runs, and it’s highly likely this October would mark the 98th anniversary of the Red Sox’s last ring. Glad you came, Big Papi.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports Images
Powered by WordPress.com VIP