The Bruins were about to wrap up their Game 6 win over the St. Louis Blues Sunday night, and the predominant emotion was to get a good gloat on.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had committed a classic “Dewey Defeats Truman” gaffe by running an advertisement that congratulated the hockey team for winning the Stanley Cup — before the game even started. I have a friend out that way, and I was busy thinking of some Grade-A insults I could send to her via Facebook.
Then, word began filtering down that David Ortiz was shot in the Dominican Republic. At first, it didn’t sound all that terrible as the reports said he took a bullet in his leg. Of course, all of this is relative. He got shot. That’s terrible enough.
We managed to get a story in the paper prior to deadline, but it was short and incomplete, as most all breaking news stories are while they’re developing.
Soon enough, those reports started to change. Now, they say he was shot in the back, and the bullet penetrated some vital organs.
It sets your head spinning, doesn’t it?
This wasn’t some drug feud, where gun violence seems to be the preferred method of retribution. At first, it was thought Ortiz was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. But now we know he was targeted, or appeared to have been targeted, and this was no accident.
Most of the time, someone gets shot in some far-off place and we shake our heads sadly and turn the page of the newspaper, or, perhaps, resume surfing our TV sets with the remote.
But this is the type of thing that stops you in your tracks because it just seems so impossible. To use an interjection that he himself used after the Boston Marathon bombing, this is David F. Ortiz we’re talking about. Big Papi. The man who not only carried the Boston Red Sox on his back as they won three World Series championships, but was the visible symbol of a city desperate to heal after the terrorist attack on the marathon.
Didn’t you feel just a hint of civic pride when Ortiz addressed the Fenway Park faithful? Didn’t you choose to ignore the obvious F-bomb he dropped and, instead, revel in the simplicity and bluntness of his short speech?
And didn’t you, six months later, shake your head in awe as the same guy who implored fans not to let terrorists dictate their freedom turned in an otherworldly performance to will the Red Sox to the championship that did so much to help the city heal?
These are the things I thought of Sunday and Monday as reports trickled in, each one worse than the last.
You hope, when you hear these things, that — just once — the victim has been struck with a glancing blow. I remember George Harrison saying once that when he first heard that John Lennon was shot, he thought (hoped may be more like it) that Lennon was merely wounded and that he’d be all right. But as we know, that wasn’t the case.
It’s never the case. We’re talking about guns and shooting people at close range. Bullets are not designed to inflict flesh wounds. They’re designed to inflict serious damage.
And it’s apparent that’s what has happened to Ortiz. Doctors seem certain he will live, and he may even emerge from this whole. But whatever the real story is, it’s obvious his condition is serious enough that the Red Sox sent a plane down there to fly him back to Boston and Mass. General.
For a man who spent so much of his time here as a larger-than-life icon, it’s amazing how one small projectile can render all of that irrelevant. In the amount of time it took for the perpetrator to pull a trigger, David Ortiz, the man who helped heal Boston during one of its darkest times, has been reduced to being a statistic.
Whatever else you think about gun violence, please think about that. In the end, whatever great things you have accomplished in your life don’t mean a whole lot when you’re fighting for your life because someone tried to shoot you to death.
Sorry, Bruins. I really hope you guys win Wednesday. But I just can’t get too wrapped up in that right now.