When Brilliance Hits a Slump

Part of the pleasure in watching David Ortiz, the great designated hitter of the Boston Red Sox, play baseball is the physical exuding of a captivating personality; everything this large and gregarious man does makes you think of something else lively and loud. When he walks towards the plate for his turn at bat, a massive girth taking tiny steps on well-tapered legs, he resembles a sea lion maneuvering through a rocky surf. At the batter’s box, he spits purposefully into each gloved palm, claps a single, mighty optimistic clap, and positions himself into a wide, menacing crouch that brings to mind a self-propelled field artillery piece—with an irresistible gap-toothed smile.