CHICAGO -- Will or won't he?
It's the first week of May, and already the question is being asked. Sure, David Ortiz said he was retiring after this season. But will he stick to his word or change his mind? Inquiring minds want to know.
The questions get louder with every homer hit, every run knocked in, every milestone reached.
When Ortiz homered off Carlos Rodon Wednesday night, becoming the first lefty hitter to ever do so, the chatter began again.
It's unlikely to stop much in the coming months, especially if Ortiz continues to hit at this sort of pace. If Ortiz continues to produce like he has in the first five weeks, like he did a year ago, why would he walk away from a game he can still dominate?
But that's missing the point.
Ortiz isn't retiring because he can't perform any longer. Remember, he made the announcement last November, weeks after he finished 2015 with 37 homers, the most he's had in a single season since his club-record 54 in 2006.
Ortiz couldn't have had any sense that he was nearing the end after what he achieved last year. And he can't be motivated financially, either; the Red Sox hold a $15 million option for 2017, meaning he knew he was walking away from that when he decided to quit.
So maybe, just maybe, Ortiz is retiring because he doesn't want to play any more.
He may still love the game and enjoy the lifestyle, but he's played professional baseball for the last 23 years, or more than half of his life. That's a lot of plane rides, bus rides and time away home and family.
And even though he's essentially been a DH for virtually all of his Red Sox career, there's still a physical price to play. The Achilles injury he suffered several years ago still affects him.
It was telling that Ortiz was out of the lineup for both games in Atlanta, a National League city where the Red Sox can't use the DH. In the past, he would have started at least one game at first base. But this time he pinch-hit in the first and didn't appear at all in the second.
Then there's the matter of the hype surrounding The Long Goodbye. Three franchises -- including the White Sox Thursday night -- have held ceremonies to honor Ortiz's last visit to their ballpark. In the coming weeks there will be pregame tributes in Kansas City, San Francisco, and Minneapolis, with many more to follow.
It would be pretty awkward for Ortiz for shrug his shoulders, announce he's had a change of heart, and give back those gifts.
There are planned promotions at Fenway, with sponsors cued up to take part in various events.
Ortiz has also agreed to be the subject of a season-long documentary by a production company that followed him around on Opening Day, the home opener at Fenway and will be around periodically throughout the season. What happens to that project? Does it become an inside look at the next-to-last season for David Ortiz? Would anyone watch "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Year David Ortiz Gave Careful Consideration To Retiring Before Changing His Mind?''
And while it's true Ortiz has developed a good relationship with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a short period of time, and Dombrowski would undoubtedly welcome Ortiz back next season, it's highly unlikely Dombrowski's presence could bring about a change of heart.
After all, Ortiz has had a very good relationship with John Farrell and enjoys playing for him. So if Farrell, whose history with Ortiz dates back to 2007, can't sway Ortiz, it's highly doubtful Dombrowski could.
Mostly, this talk has surfaced because of the Sports Talk Industrial Complex, a business that traffics in conspiracy theories and is in dire need of debate and hot takes 24-7.
Noted player evalautor Sigmund Freud, however, once sagely noted: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
And sometimes, a retirement is just a retirement.
Nothing more, nothing less.