Big fun for Big Papi at Fan Cave
If you offer David Ortiz a piece of Pez candy from a Donald Duck Pez dispenser he will give you a peculiar look and politely decline.
This is the kind of thing you learn when you have five minutes with Big Papi at the MLB Fan Cave.
Ortiz, who is in town for a big three-game weekend series versus the Yankees, spent part of his day off hanging out in the swanky, fully decked-out, three-story loft in Greenwich Village. Yes, there was a painting of Brian Wilson's beard hanging by the steps, Ozzie Smith was there and I may have snuck off to take on a squirrely-looking random cameraman in a borderline intense game of air hockey.
But anyway, let's tackle the Fan Cave experience first: "It's where dreams come true -- it's the good life," said Ortiz. And for the most fervent baseball enthusiast, it really is. Yankees fan Mike O'Hara and Orioles diehard Ryan Wagner won the opportunity of a lifetime by winning the MLB Dream Job and will live in the Fan Cave all season long. Their job? To watch as much baseball as humanly possible. And the opportunity to hang out with some of the game's biggest stars -- like Ortiz -- well, it's just gravy.
Not a bad gig at all.
Figuring that Ortiz is always pestered with baseball-related questions, I thought I'd lighten things up and ask the two-time World Series champ, who happens to be a spokesperson for Dunkin Donuts, about the more important things of life, like what his go-to order is at the East Coast coffee Mecca. You'll be surprised to learn that when he isn't gobbling up breaking balls that don't break, Ortiz can be found basking in the deliciousness that is a caramel mocha iced coffee -- his Dunkin weapon of choice.
And don't even get him started on the hash browns. Boston's designated hitter extraordinaire skips the fried potato deliciousness (delicately crafted by angels) because they're just too good: "I try to stay away from trouble." And I'd be the last to question Papi's dietary choices these days, as he looked as svelte as ever, dressed to the nines in his form-fitting, I-wish-I-could-get-away-with-wearing-what-he's-wearing button-down shirt.
The calculus behind Ortiz's new dietary regimen is as simple as his picture-perfect swing: Ortiz attributes his slender physique to simply watching what he eats and counting calories. He doesn't like to eat before games but a good breakfast and good lunch will do and he tries "to stay away from a lot of calories -- life continues after sports." But back off, it'd be tomfoolish to even whisper about Big Papi's post-baseball life since he's positively tearing the cover off the ball at the plate these days.
The 35-year-old six-time All Star is one of the few members of an underperforming Red Sox lineup hitting at the top of his game. Ortiz is currently batting a solid .291 with six homers and 18 RBIs and has been on fire as of late, hitting at a robust .341 clip with four homers and seven RBIs for May. And expect that to continue as the Red Sox hit the Bronx this weekend, as Ortiz is raking at a smooth .300 clip with four homers and seven RBIs on the road this season.
His secret for road success? Let's just say it has a lot to do with not ever rooming with Dustin Pedroia. Ortiz could not have spat out Pedroia's name fast enough when I asked him which Red Sox teammate he'd want least as a roadtrip roommate. "He's always hyper, and so little. And at one point I just want to chill," Ortiz said. "Whenever he comes to my bedroom, I kick him out." Duly noted.
To wrap things up. I had to ask Mr. Big Papi himself if, at a modest 6-2, 190 pounds if I could get away with calling myself, "Big Papi".
"Why not?" he asked, accompanied with his signature 10-dollar laugh, "You could work your way there."
And then I melted on the spot.
The Fan Cave -- where dreams really come true.
Dave Feldman is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.