David "Big Papi" Ortiz

ICYMI 2016 is Boston Red Sox designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz’s last season

What’s he known for?  Big Papi is a member of the elite 500+ home run club. He has the 2nd most home runs of any Red Sox player, behind only Ted Williams. And many of those homers came at clutch times; Papi played a key role in each of the Red Sox’s 3 World Series victories since 2004.

What’s with the nickname?  Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins in December 2002. He signed with the Red Sox just a few weeks later and showed up to spring training without knowing many people. He couldn’t remember his new teammates’ names, so he started calling everyone “Papi.” They started calling him Papi back and the nickname stuck.

Why’s he retiring?  At age 40, Papi says he has aches and pains, but you would never know it from watching him play. He’s having the best farewell season in MLB history. So far, he’s already hit 37 home runs, the most of any player in his final year.

Farewell tour. All season long, Big Papi has been given gifts and honored at ballparks across the country. But he shouldn’t expect such a warm welcome from the N.Y. Yankees; one Yankees fan is trying to get the entire stadium to collectively moon him. But when they go low, Papi goes high. He penned a moving letter to Yankees fans saying he’ll miss the rivalry because it made him a better player.

A blemish on the legacy.  Back in 2003, before there were penalties in MLB for doping, Big Papi tested positive for steroids. He said it was an accident and might have come from taking various vitamin supplements. It’s unclear whether the PED allegations will keep him out of the Hall of Fame. It may help that all 10 of Ortiz’s All-Star game selections happened after testing became more stringent in 2004.

Jake Arrieta

Who is Jake Arrieta?  A lot of the Chicago Cubs' success has to do with their ace Jake Arrieta, so we thought it was time for a spotlight.

Don’t mention him to Orioles fans.  Arrieta started off his career with the Baltimore Orioles where he was a mediocre pitcher at best, so they dumped him off in a trade to the Cubs.

Did he get better?  Ohhh boy did he.  Last year, Arrieta won the NL Cy Young award (psst—it’s given to the best pitcher in each league), because of his historically good performance. He had a 0.75 ERA in the 2nd half of the season, which was the lowest 2nd half in the history of baseball. (Psst— ERA stands for earned run average.  If you need some perspective, an ERA under 3 is considered pretty awesome).  He’s known for having a spectacular and wide repertoire of pitches at his command.

How’s he doing this year?  He’s already on a roll.  He is 6-0 to start this season with a 1.13 ERA, and had a no-hitter against the Reds earlier this year.  He is doing so well that some of his fellow players even asked him if he was using PEDs.  He wasn’t. But he was flattered.

That’s great, but how can I use this info to my advantage?  If you’ve been trying to drag your boyfriend to Pilates, just tell him to man up and give it a try like Arrieta.  He’s been using Pilates for the past couple of years to help him with his flexibility and strength, and even got half the players in the clubhouse into it.  Maybe it’s the Cubs’ secret sauce?