Jeter Downs, left, and the Red Sox were swept by the Blue Jays this weekend, extending their losing streak to five games. Thankfully, David Ortiz, right, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, providing a distraction. Associated Press photos

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The Baseball Hall of Fame is a four-hour drive from Fenway Park.

This weekend, it might have been a million miles away.

Tens of thousands of Red Sox fans descended on this quiet village in upstate New York to celebrate the induction of David Ortiz. It was a memorable weekend filled with laughter, song and even a few tears.

Meantime, back in Boston, the Sox were being swept by the Toronto Blue Jays in a series that included a record-setting 28-5 loss on Friday night. By the time the Ortiz plaque was hung in the Hall of Fame Gallery the Sox had lost five straight games and nine of 10. They were 17 1/2 games behind the Yankees, and 3 games out of the wild-card race.

They were just a 1/2-game ahead of the last-place Orioles.

Big Papi’s induction could not have come at a better time. With the Red Sox reeling, fans needed something to distract them from the mess at Fenway. Ortiz delivered with his usual flair, taking the limelight and making us all feel that everything was going to be all right.


That’s what he did in 2013, when he helped Boston take a step back toward normalcy with his speech just days after the bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s what he did Sunday, when the Hall of Fame held its first full ceremony in three years, with an estimated 35,000 fans in attendance.

“Standing on the field of Fenway Park it felt like the whole cities of New England and each and every one of you was surrounding me and showing me all your love,” Ortiz told the masses on the lawn of the Clark Sports Center. “I will always be (of) Boston and I will always be there for you Boston. I love you Boston.”

Back in Boston, Big Papi’s former team is in disarray. Injuries were piling up with Rafael Devers joining Trevor Story on the IL and J.D. Martinez missing the whole series with back spasms.

All due respect to Jeter Downs, Yolmer Sanchez and Rob Refsnyder, but the Sox didn’t have the lineup to compete with the surging Blue Jays. The timing, with the trade deadline now just over a week away, couldn’t be worse.

“We’re playing bad baseball,” said Red Sox Manager Alex Cora after Sunday’s game. “We’re back to where we were in April. The brand of baseball we have been playing is awful.”

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom was in Cooperstown, joining Principal Owner John Henry and Chairman Tom Werner in celebrating Ortiz. One can only imagine the conversations they were having in private. It’s hard to imagine the Sox are big-time buyers at the deadline. Will they go into sell mode?


Even that is becoming difficult. Martinez is injured. Nathan Eovaldi is back from injury but his velocity is down and it doesn’t look like he’s 100%. Kiké Hernández is on the 60-day IL.

Meantime, Terry Francona’s Guardians are in town for four games, followed by the NL Central-leading Brewers. The deadline will pass with the Sox in the midst of a four-game series against the scalding hot Astros.

Expanded playoff field or not, the Sox will be hard pressed to navigate through the next 11 games with the current roster. They could well be under .500 when the deadline comes. And David Ortiz won’t be around to distract fans from a season that has gotten hard to watch.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. He is a graduate of Lewiston High School.

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