Apparently, a new contract extension isn't enough money for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
There is no doubt Ortiz will go down as one of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history. He has been the common thread through Boston's three championships in the last decade. But his off-the-field antics have worn thin on some people, myself included.
Ortiz has busted into manager's press conferences whining about scoring decisions which cost him an RBI. It's an annual right of passage to hear Ortiz whine about the Red Sox disrespecting him by not committing to long-term contract extensions.
Well, guess what? Ortiz got his extension-- a healthy one at that. The Red Sox didn't have to do it. The 38-year-old Ortiz had one year left on his contract. The Red Sox agreed to pay Ortiz $16 million in 2015. Good luck finding a DH who makes half that much. The contract also has provisions in it which could keep Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform through 2017 allowing him, for all intensive purposes, to retire as a member of the Red Sox.
But I guess that wasn't enough.
On Tuesday the World Champion Red Sox visited the White House and President Barack Obama. It was a great day. Everyone was smiling, joking. Jonny Gomes was wearing a U.S. flag suit. OK. The President mispronounced Mike Napoli's name. Giggle.
The President finished his remarks and turned to David Ortiz who presented Obama with a jersey (at least three sizes too big) with the number 44 (representing Obama being the 44th President-- not a tribute to Jason Bay).
The President held out the jersey and, being the consummate professional, asked Ortiz to pose with him for photos from the assembled media. Ortiz paused, reached in his pocket (where was the Secret Service?), and asked if he could take his own personal photo with his phone.
"He wants to do a selfie. It's the Big Papi selfie," the President joked. The President, unwittingly, perhaps wrote the perfect caption for the ad campaign. It wouldn't be the first time that the words "Big Papi" and "self" would appear in the same sentence, nor will it be the last.
"Yes, sir. Yes, sir," Papi replied, knowing a little secret that was so classified that not even the President knew about it.
A couple of teammates behing Ortiz could be heard saying, "Cha-ching," as Ortiz snapped a picture which would go on to be retweeted over 45,000 times.
It was a funny moment. Everyone laughed. I waited for the picture to show up on Twitter. A few minutes later, there it was-- sent from Ortiz' twitter account. Great picture. A few moments later, I saw a certain smartphone company tweet out the same picture under the moniker "promoted tweet." Hmmm. One of my eyebrows perked up.
Sure enough, the next day, the Boston Globe revealed the "spontaneous" Presidential selfie wasn't so spontaneous after all. The ink was barely dry on an endorsement deal that Ortiz had finished signing with the aforementioned cellphone company (which I refuse to mention-- they've received enough publicity) when Ortiz snapped the photo which would go viral.
It wasn't the first time that same company has pulled this kind of a stunt. At the Oscars just last month, host Ellen DeGeneres, under the ruse of wanting to break the record for most retweets, "spontaneously" decided to take a selfie of herself surrounded by an assortment of celebrities. I guess, to use the correct lingo, that is referred to as an "usie."
Again, not spontaneous. Again, it was another promotional stunt. Well done.
It is one thing to pull that stunt with a bunch of celebrities at an awards ceremony, but it is another thing to do it with the President of the United States on the lawn of the White House.
The White House wasn't very happy about it. "As a rule, the White House objects to attempts to use the president's likeness for commercial purposes," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "And we certainly object in this case."
Ortiz has denied it was anything planned. "It just came out right in the moment when I gave him the jersey and he asked to take pictures."
Ortiz went on to defend himself, "It wasn't anything promotional or anything like that. I mean, who knows that you're going to get a picture with the president, a selfie? You can't guarantee that."
True. But when the opportunity presented itself, Ortiz was quick to dupe the President. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Cha-ching.
That phone company doesn't deny they assisted Ortiz on how to use the phone just in case the opportunity arose. They have been quick to mention their name in every denial they have made.
That's fine. Golf clap to their marketing department on a job well done.
I just wouldn't want any part of it. It seems dirty to me. Meeting the President of the Untied States, the Leader of the Free World, is an honor of the highest order. To exploit the situation for personal gain is to belittle the Office of President and all those who have served. You would think Ortiz is an expert on the topic of respect.
Ortiz, again, took an occasion which was supposed to be about the team and made it about himself. Hey, look at me. Good try with the suit, Jonny, but I won't be upstaged.
Sadly, we should come to expect this from David Ortiz. Oh, by the way, if you're looking for a celebrity endorsement, contact David Ortiz' agent. Ortiz will be more than happy to do it for you, but it will cost you.