So, on an afternoon that David Ortiz hit his career-best 48th home run to draw within two of the club record held by Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, what did he think of his chances of winning the American League's Most Valuable Player award?
Ortiz formed a circle with his giant right hand, held it in front of his face, and shrugged. On a scale of 1 to 100, that would be a zero, which is also the number of home runs Ortiz had hit since connecting Aug. 27 in Seattle, his season interrupted by a heart scare that he now insists wasn't about his heart at all.
``I don't worry about [the MVP]," he said after his two-run home run in the sixth inning, off Royals lefthanded reliever Andy Sisco, helped the Sox to a 9-3 win yesterday over Kansas City, ending Boston's improbable -- and lethal -- five-game losing streak against the team with the worst record in baseball.
``All I like to do is have a good season," he said. ``If I have a good season, that's my MVP."
But as Ortiz continued to share his thoughts on the topic, it became increasingly apparent he believes Boston's fall from playoff contention shouldn't disqualify him from MVP consideration, not when he is a virtual lock to lead the AL in home runs and is odds-on to lead in RBIs as well.
``I'm right there," he said, ``but I'm not going to win it. They give it to Alex [Rodriguez] one year, even though his team was in last place, so now they can't play that BS anymore, just because your team didn't make it. They gave it to Alex that year because of his numbers. But they always have a reason to vote for whatever, so that's why I don't worry about it."
Rodriguez won his first MVP award in 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers, who finished last in the AL West even though Rodriguez hit 47 home runs and knocked in 118 runs while batting .298. Rodriguez actually had better numbers the year before, hitting 57 home runs while knocking in 142 runs, leading the league in both categories, but finished second to Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada, the difference, of course, being that A-Rod's Rangers finished last and Miggy's Athletics went to the playoffs.
Rodriguez, incidentally, is the last AL player to hit 50 or more home runs in a season. Now it is one of his Yankee teammates, Derek Jeter, who is receiving considerable support in this year's MVP race. But he wouldn't get Ortiz's vote.
``I'll tell you one thing," Ortiz said, ``if I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBIs, that's going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have [Ortiz has 127 RBIs after driving in two yesterday].
``But they'll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse. They're talking about Jeter a lot, right? He's done a great job, he's having a great season, but Jeter is not a 40-homer hitter or an RBI guy. It doesn't matter how much you've done for your ball club, the bottom line is, the guy who hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that's the guy you know helped your team win games.
``Don't get me wrong -- he's a great player, having a great season, but he's got a lot of guys in that lineup. Top to bottom, you've got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be."
Who would Ortiz vote for if he's not going to win it? He mentioned three sluggers -- Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Justin Morneau of the Twins.
``All depends on who makes the playoffs," he said. ``[Jermaine] Dye is having an unbelievable season, an incredible year. Konerko, too.
``Morneau, he's having a great season, but in Minnesota, there's no publicity. I bet you nobody knows who he is."
Morneau has 33 home runs, most by a Twins player since Kent Hrbek hit 34 in 1987, the last season any Twins player has hit 30 or more home runs. But Morneau's Minnesota teammate, Joe Mauer, has gotten the majority of the publicity, because of his bid to become the first catcher to lead the AL in hitting. (An absence of publicity is not likely to cost Johan Santana of the Twins the AL's Cy Young Award.)
But Mauer's high average doesn't cut it for Ortiz.
``Tell me about the guy bringing him in," Ortiz said. ``I'm not saying anything about my man [Mauer], I love that kid, but you've got to talk about Morneau because he's the guy who's done what people haven't done in years there."
As for the other league, Ortiz said that should be a no-brainer. ``Ryan Howard," he said of the Phillies slugger. ``I don't care what anyone says, he's going to finish with 60 home runs. Dude, he's going to have 150 RBIs. How can you take away the MVP from a guy like that?"
Ortiz's numbers likely would even be better if he hadn't missed eight games after what were described as heart palpitations. He now insists those weren't palpitations at all.
``That thing that happened had nothing to do with my heart," he said, ``not at all. I was diving, I was swinging, it was like some muscular thing around here [he circled an area in his chest]. It was like there was a nerve shaking there and everybody thought it had to do with my heart. But it wasn't. There's nobody in my family that has a history of heart trouble, nobody at all."
But will Ortiz be the first in his family to bring home an MVP award? Again, he shook his head.
``I'm doing what I can do," he said.