Hey, Big Papi, we've been there

By David Filipov
Globe Staff / May 16, 2009
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Note to David Ortiz: Everyone goes through a slump from time to time. And Red Sox Nation is no exception; the faithful feel your pain.

So the day after Big Papi went 0 for 7 and stranded 12 runners in the Red Sox' 5-4 loss to the Angels - the latest power outage in his season of futility - fans from Bangor to Boston chipped in yesterday with their advice for the bummed-out slugger.

They recalled the slumps they have been through in their lives and how they pulled themselves out.

David MacVane knows a thing about setbacks. The 75-year-old Maine lobsterman once fell off a dock onto the deck of his lobster boat, "Empty Pockets," and broke three ribs. He went out lobstering the next day. Then there was the time he lopped off the tip of his right middle finger hauling a trap. He stuck a condom on it and went back out.

The price of lobster is down and the tasty crustaceans are harder to find. Still, MacVane said, "I've never had a slump in my life I couldn't pull out of." On Widgery Wharf in Portland yesterday, as he repaired the mesh on his traps, he offered Ortiz the credo he lives by: "Got to keep going out there."

Closer to the heart of Red Sox Nation, on Franklin Street near Downtown Crossing in Boston, Fladimir Castelly, 24, offered similar advice. He remembered the years of frustration after moving to Boston from Venezuela eight years ago, when he had no friends, no money, and no way to visit his family. He worked through it; now he has a girlfriend, a steady job at a newsstand, and enough money for a trip home later this year.

"If I kept thinking about it, I wouldn't have gotten out of it," said Castelly, his Red Sox jersey gleaming against the multicolored newsstand wall displaying the lottery tickets he sells. Ortiz, he said, "I would tell to concentrate on what he's doing and keep going."

Sometimes just going out there is not enough, Josh Rose, 25, whose family owns Green Mountain Sugar House in Ludlow, Vt., said by phone. His parents, Ann and Doug, never stop going out to their thousands of maple sugar taps, but they have seen seasons go by when drops of syrup are almost as hard to come by as 2009 Ortiz dingers. And Josh Rose had a season working at a ski area in Vail, Colo., a couple of winters back when so little snow fell there was no work.

"I was making no money. I had to leave my apartment. I pretty much couch-surfed from November to April," he said. "I lived off Ramen Noodles."

So Rose diversified. He got a job with the Colorado forest service, then one supporting scientists in Antarctica, and sometimes helps his parents. Maybe Ortiz should try diversification, Rose said. But what would that mean for a lumbering designated hitter whose livelihood relies on mighty swings of the bat?

Dawn Griska, executive assistant for the town of Milford, N.H., knows what it is like when you lose the one thing you love to do.

Griska, 40, wanted to make her living lifting people's moods - as a florist. But the business went bad. Heartbroken, she had to switch careers several times before she discovered a new way to reconnect with her passion for service. In her current job, she said, "I'm the Girl Friday for all things possible and the spin doctor for all things necessary."

Ortiz, she said, has to reconnect with the things about baseball that have always brought him joy. "He has to fall in love with the game again," she said. "He has to remember why he loves baseball. "Remember the game. Remember the ball . . . that should be a focus for Mr. Ortiz."

Mayor Gerry G.M. Palmer Jr. of Bangor acknowledged in a phone interview to being in a bit of a slump: He said he has been having trouble getting his city council to focus on his efforts to build an arena for the city. To cope, he remembers the words sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1936 film "Swing Time" - good words, he said, for Big Papi to remember: "I pick myself up, dust myself off, start all over again."

Back in Boston, Wildie Ceccherini, owner of Boston Hair Design Men's Barbershop on Kingston Street, was prosaic in her counsel and said that when business is slow, as it is in this recession, she works harder.

Ortiz, she said, should "concentrate on his work."

Her client, Aberlardo Garcia de Lorenzo of Madrid, is also trying to hit his way out of a slump. His journalism career in Spain has fizzled, so he has come to Boston to get a master's in business administration. And his advice for the Sox slugger?

"Who," he responded, "is David Ortiz?"