BALTIMORE — We all felt the same way when it happened, a selfie with President Obama at the White House. Here we go, another Big Papi moment to add to the list.
And maybe it was a big moment, even if David Ortiz had signed a deal with Samsung to take these types of photos with a new product the company is promoting.
On Wednesday, Ortiz made it sound as if it was a very genuine moment that had nothing to do with the Samsung contract. There were no orders to get the shot, he said.
It’s not that we shouldn’t believe Ortiz, it’s just that the circumstances make it all look fishy.
I asked him straight out, “Did Samsung pay you any more money for taking that photo?”
“No way, man,” he said. “I don’t understand where that stuff is coming from.
“I guess people are always going to have their opinions. I learned a long time ago, I’m not going to make everybody happy.
“That was one of those things that just happened. I gave him the jersey, and the photographers were going to take their pictures and I thought, really at the last second, maybe I should snap a shot with my phone while I have the chance.
“It had nothing to do with no deals.”
Your first thought is that Ortiz duped the president, but after talking to him face-to-face, I don’t get the impression that was the case. I certainly understand people feeling that way, because I did before speaking to him.
Ortiz boasted that he got more than 40,000 retweets of the photo.
“I got famous yesterday,” Ortiz said. “You don’t get a chance to get a photo with the president every day. That’s one thing in life . . . it happened and I appreciate it.
“It’s an honor for us to get to hang out with him for a short period of time.
“I did take a lot of pictures of the White House, but it wasn’t anything on purpose. Went around like everyone else.”
Ortiz was kidded by teammates that when he reached into his pocket for the phone, the Secret Service may have pounced on him.
“We were talking about it afterward,” Ortiz said. “But it was super cool the way everybody was at the White House. The president came off as the person we all know, how humble and how cool he is. It was a great experience.”
Ortiz never blinked about the awkwardness about the photo or the semi-controversy it caused, with Samsung pounding its chest that Ortiz got a selfie, much like Ellen DeGeneres did at the Oscars. But she did hers with actors; this was the President of the United States. A little bigger stage, as popular as the Oscars are.
In the big scheme of things, this isn’t a huge story. Just a curious one.
The scenarios are these: Ortiz did it because of the Samsung deal. If that’s the case, shame on him. If he was genuine in how he explained it to this reporter, then he gets a pass.
All I keep hearing is the “cha-ching” yelled out by Jonny Gomes in the background as the selfie was taken. Ortiz told Boston.com’s Steve Silva that it’s a term the players use in the clubhouse to signify, “Got it!”
Ortiz himself put this story in the proper context when he spoke about meeting with a soldier at Walter Reed Medical Center after the White House visit.
“One thing that happened to me is one young man, 26 right now,” he said. “He got both of his legs blown up with a bomb. His spirit was so good. Me and [Dustin] Pedroia were looking at each other like, ‘Seriously?’ There are so many people complaining about stupid things in life.
“The best thing that happened to me is going to look at this guy because it made me a better human being. I had a really good time there yesterday and getting to hang out with him and people doing their thing for all of us.
“Everybody should go hang out with these people. This guy is sitting on the bed with no legs and he was acting like he was the happiest man on planet Earth just because we went out and saw him and talked to him.”
Ortiz said the whole experience Tuesday — the White House, the president, the selfie, the retweets, the Walter Reed visit — gives him more motivation to go out and help the Red Sox win again, so they can get back to the White House for yet another visit.
Ortiz also is excited about getting home and receiving his ring at Fenway Park Friday.
“I have an appreciation of how things happened last year,” he said.
Ortiz is still one of the most beloved Red Sox. A recent poll conducted by Saint Leo University had him pegged second behind Derek Jeter among the most popular players in baseball. The selfie with the president just made him more popular. That is not lost on Ortiz.
So was this a Big Papi Moment to add to the hundreds of others? Or was it manufactured and disingenuous?
Ortiz walked around before Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles game with a big smile on his face, looking as though he had nothing to hide.
We will all have our opinions.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.