(Photo Credit: Masslive.com)
By Ted Gay – @TedG63
It has been a quiet spring for Dustin Pedroia as he rehabilitates his surgically repaired knee with the intensity he has brought to the Sox since his rookie year. In the distance, he can hear the sound of knives being sharpened by the negative trolls awaiting his return.
After two World Series rings, an MVP, and a ROY, Pedroia had a spectacular fall from grace last year.
It began in spring training when it was assumed that Pedroia would replace David Ortiz as the team leader. Red Sox fans and players quickly found out there was no replacing Ortiz’s power or his clubhouse presence. Talent and tenure do not equal leadership. It is something you are born with. Someone can try to lead but if no one follows they’re alone.
Pedroia’s failure to lead was evident during the foolish beanball, high slide war with the Orioles. When Matt Barnes nearly hit Manny Machado, and tempers flared Pedroia yelled across the field “It’s not me, it’s them.” For a leader, there is no “them” or “me” just “us.” Pedroia, in the heat of battle, perhaps striving for a role that did not suit him, made a mistake, but he still stood taller than Machado who acted at that time, and subsequently, as a whiny little bitch destined to destroy a team once he inks his ten-year deal after the season.
When David Price confronted Dennis Eckersley on a plane, Pedroia was heavily criticized for backing Price. It has been my experience, having been in the workforce for 35 years, when a coworker acts inappropriately, you chastise them privately, not publically. David Ortiz, Larry Bird, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Tom Brady would have handled Price behind closed doors, not on the plane. I have no idea if any Sox player upbraided Price privately, but Pedroia was being a good teammate when he didn’t do it in public and has not deserved the vitriol spewed at him by people more likely to throw a colleague under a moving train than shield them from their own inadequacies.
The diminutive second baseman was guilty of something else. He played hurt. Boston’s sports beliefs have blossomed from the minds of out of shape men in the media who rarely leave the safety of their office or studio and continuously complain that certain players don’t have “sack.” Playing in pain is the ultimate show of toughness. But it isn’t smart. Pedroia should have benched himself because his presence in the lineup hurt the team. Unfortunately, the Sox were at a point where no one could tell him to sit.
If the biggest complaint we have with a player is that he tries too hard, then we don’t have much to bitch about.
Red Sox Nation has changed with success. If, when Pedroia was drafted in June of 2004, we were told that he would be a perpetual all-star and a key part of two championship teams he would never have had to pay for a drink in Boston in his lifetime. We would have planned to erect a statue of him.
But now we only want to tear him down. I guess that is the price of success.
I don’t know how Pedroia will perform this year. He put every ounce of effort into each at-bat, every ground ball, and all his trips around the bases. There have been few more talented Red Sox during their glorious run and none that have tried harder, given as much, or left more on the field.
But too many of us judge Pedroia for what he did while standing in the dugout, or sitting on a plane, and not on what he did on the field.
Yes, Dustin Pedroia is not perfect, far from it, he will be the first to tell you that, but after everything he has given us, he deserves so much better than he is getting.
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