Q&A: David Ortiz on Deflategate, statues and pounding buffalo wings
If this truly is David Ortiz's final season, he's going out on a MVP pace. The Red Sox slugger leads the American League in RBIs and is in the Top 10 in batting average and home runs. I spoke with Ortiz last week about Deflategate, Statues and his new Buffalo Wild Wings ad.
SI.com: How did this new Buffalo Wild Wings ad come about? Were the fans cool with you?
David Ortiz: They reached out through my agent and asked if I wanted to have some fun with the fans in New York. I wasn't sure what to expect but it was really fun.
SI.com: In general, how are New Yorkers treating you these days now that the rivalry has cooled off?
Ortiz: You know how it is when you play for the Red Sox. It doesn’t matter how much things have cooled off. If you don’t play for the Yankees, you don’t matter. But I have been lucky somehow, someway with the Yankees fan. Whenever I’m in New York and I decide to go to public places, they are all cool with me. They can’t wait for me to retire, obviously. I fooled some of them good in this ad and they were surprised.
SI.com: Now that some time has passed since the Pedro Martinez-Don Zimmer incident, would you say that was the wildest thing you’ve encountered on a baseball field?
Ortiz: Probably. Don Zimmer, rest in peace, he is a really good human being and a great representative for baseball. The situation that happened between him and Pedro was bad, but Pedro apologized. It was a rivalry thing and he did something that he shouldn’t. And me knowing Pedro and the type of human being that he is, I know he didn’t mean anything bad. It’s part of what we did on the field. But it happens and afterwards, everyone got on the same page. Zimmer knew that as a coach, he shouldn’t have gotten involved in something involving players. But everyone is good now.
SI.com: There’s been a lot of talk around Boston about a David Ortiz statue. Would you like to see that someday?
Ortiz: I have a skill to play baseball and that’s why I’m here. I wasn’t thinking of anything like that. The reality is that I was doing it all for my family. Humbly, I can tell you that I appreciate the fact that fans want that to happen at some point. Whenever you see the fans looking forward to something like that, you know you’ve done things pretty well. If it happens, you know, I’ll be a happy man.
SI.com: Do you think Tom Brady is getting a raw deal with the Deflategate situation?
Ortiz: I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you. Put it this way: You’re talking about the one player that everybody wants to watch play. We’re not just talking about any player. We’re talking about Tom Brady. If I turn on the TV on Sunday to watch a Patriots game and I know that Tom Brady is not playing, I would turn off the TV. I don’t want to watch that game.
SI.com: Have you met Bill Belichick? What was he like?
Ortiz: I’ve met him before. He’s a great guy. The thing is that people watch what we do on the field, they want us to be a nice guy but that's not how it is. When you’re between those lines, you’re trying to beat whatever is in your way. But after, it doesn’t mean you’re that kind of human being. That’s what fans pay to watch. They want you to go out there and get the job done. But that doesn’t mean you’re that type of person. Coach Belichick is a super nice guy. An incredible human being. He’s a guy who in the Boston area is known as a charitable man and a guy who’s doing good things for the community. I don’t really see the point where people want to look at him where’s he’s a bad person.
SI.com: How was it seeing your daughter sing the National Anthem before the first game at Fenway Park this season?
Ortiz: It was very surprising. I had no clue it was going to happen. We have her studying music and taking piano lessons. The school she goes to they work extremely hard on music. I’ve watched her perform in school and in front of 150 people. But not in front of 40,000 people. I was very, very nervous when I found out but it was very emotional. It was something I’ll never forget.
SI.com: Do you have a good voice?
Ortiz:No chance. Well, when I’m taking a shower I do but everyone is a good singer when they're taking a shower.
SI.com: If you were starting a baseball team and could pick anyone right now, who would it be?
Ortiz: I’d definitely go for Bryce Harper
SI.com: Back to the wings. What's the most you've eaten at one time?
Ortiz: Well, going back to my younger day when I could really crush wings, I would say probably 1,000. Now I can only have four or five. No more than that.