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Big Papi's 0 for 7; Media Goes "(Expletive)" Crazy

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, left, flips his bat after striking out against New York Yankees starter A.J. Burnett in the fifth inning of a baseball game April 6, 2010, in Boston. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

That didn't take long.

Just two games into the baseball season, we've got our first dust-up between a player and reporters.

The Red Sox's David Ortiz is 0 for 7 (gasp!) through the opening days of the 2010 campaign and the famously harsh Boston sports media is already pondering whether the beloved Big Papi could more effectively contribute to the team by watching from the dugout.

Enter Papi's post-game rant Tuesday, following a 6-4 loss to the archrival New York Yankees, :

"(Expletive) happens. Then you guys talk (expletive). Two (expletive) games already. You (expletives) going crazy. What's up with that, man? (Expletive). There's 160 games left. Ain't that a (expletive)."

Of course, it is only two games into the season and it's generally good policy not to jump to any conclusions before Memorial Day, but the media's concerns aren't completely out of the blue.

As the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley reminds us, Ortiz struggled mightily at the beginning of last year, failing to hit his first homer until May 20 and knocking in just 18 runs through the Boston's first 47 games.

Through the end of May he was a veritable black hole in the middle of the normally potent Red Sox lineup (.185 BA, .278 OBP, .286 SLG). That's a far cry from the player who had garnered the reputation as one of the game's most fearsome sluggers and perhaps the greatest clutch performer in Red Sox history.

Yes, Ortiz did rebound after his horrid 2009 start to hit 28 home runs and tally 99 RBI (though he still finished with a scant .238 batting average). That's probably enough to buy him at least a few months before we start shoveling dirt onto his professional grave.

But there are still those who hear the Fat Lady singing Big Papi's name. The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy seems to be one:

Ortiz can't hit lefties anymore. He says he has nothing to prove. He's wrong. He says he's going to be here next year. Wrong again. We love the Big Fella, but it looks very much like it's over.

What are we supposed to make out of this? Is it an object lesson on the inevitable, though still messy, declines of superstars/cult heroes? Probably. But it's just as likely another manifestation of playing baseball in the A.L. East, where the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays are all capable of winning more than 90 games and contending for a World Series title.

And hey, it's April 7 - we've got to talk about something.