Dear David Ortiz,
You might not remember me, but you once took a bat to my face three years ago. My beautiful, plastic face.
I remember. It was a beautiful July day at the ballpark. Seventh inning. Your team was up big. Scott Feldman and Troy Patton had pitched, and they weren’t very good. Buck had used one of my friends to call for Jairo Asencio. Jairo wasn’t good at all, and the first three pitches you saw were balls. So was the fourth, probably, but I didn’t have a good view from the dugout; after all, I’m a landline phone.
You thought you could big-time your way to a walk, and in hindsight, I wish you had. My life would be a lot simpler now. You struck out instead. Three straight strikes. Against Jairo. Did you know Jairo was sent to the minors literally the next day? Bet you didn’t know that, Big Papi. I’m a phone. I know these kinds of things.
Anyway, back to the dugout. You looked ticked off. Like someone had just told you that Kenan Thompson would spoof you on “SNL” for three seasons: Three seasons — that seems like a long time for a spoof, no? You were holding your bat. Your helmet was off. Dustin Pedroia was sitting next to me. I wasn’t doing anything, nothing except looking at his bald head. Just kind of hanging out. Life as the dugout press-box line is uncomplicated. The dugout bullpen line — he’s the one with the TV spots and sponsorships. A little bit of a showoff, if you ask me.
I didn’t put together what happened next until I was physically put together again the next day, like some kind of Alexander Graham Bell Humpty Dumpty. To recap: You choked up on the grip and swung your bat, swung it hard, and took off much of my face, my beautiful, plastic face. Still I could see the monster that lay within. You, an All-Star — allegedly — swung again, missing me, a stationary object. Your last swing was backhanded and ugly, and it ripped clean off whatever was left of my once-beautiful visage. I don’t remember feeling pain because I was in shock instead. Also, because I’m a phone.
You left my outsides as broken as a middle-schooler’s Motorola Razr phone screen. (Yes, that’s a dated joke. No, I will not apologize. Phone jokes are my thing.) Inside, however, I was still the same, still a functioning part of the dugout. You could take my cover, but my dial tone? Never my dial tone.
Our lives changed that day. I underwent plastic surgery almost immediately, in that I got a new cover. But no amount of plastic could hide me from the waking fear and torment I would endure as ballplayers continued to stroll by me during the coming years, heavy wood bats in hand. Every day of the season, every game, became hell. Sometimes I even wished I had been a fax machine, such was my sorrow.
You never apologized to me, at least not publicly. It didn’t matter. Any compassion, I'm sure, would have been phone-y. (That’s another phone joke.) You avoided suspension and were fined just $5,000; you appealed anyway. Do you know how many phones $5,000 buys in a third-world country? More than enough to call you cheap.
Karma didn’t care. While I remained in Baltimore, never even seeing an American League pennant, you were named World Series Most Valuable Player a couple of months after our run-in. You moved on from thrashing me to tormenting my beloved Birds. Before the day of the attack, you were perfectly fine against the Orioles: .250 batting average, 126 RBIs and 38 homers in 187 meetings. After? In just 58 games, it’s .303, 50 RBIs and 20 home runs.
That’s why I’m glad to see you go, David, seeing as how this week is probably our last together. I wasn’t laughing when you jokingly threatened to dial up 1-800-MORE-PAIN the day after the onslaught. I wasn’t laughing when a reporter asked you about getting a bronzed bullpen phone as a retirement gift this week. You laughed, but I didn’t. I was going to the beep.
That’s more phone humor. It involves swear words and a deep, abiding contempt for your mistreatment of opposing-dugout press-box phones.
Camden Yards Opposing Dugout Press-Box Phone