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Monday, February 01, 2021

Thanks For the Memories Dustin Pedroia

He arrived with a reputation.  He was too small yes, but he was brash.  He had a confidence bigger than his body, he wasn’t smart enough to know he was too small to hit home runs, he didn’t have an arm strong enough to play shortstop, he wasn’t especially fast.  But everywhere he went, Arizona State, Sarasota, Augusta, Portland and Pawtucket he performed well.  He was the front line for more than a few stats vs. scouts battles.  The end result was not whether the stats or the scouts won but that the Boston Red Sox and their fans won.

If you are a Sox fan you almost certainly love Dustin Pedroia.  I won’t lie, the dude will forever be one of my favorites.  He was a joy to watch play day in and day out when he could.  He became a genuine star winning rookie of the year in his first year and MVP in his second.  He was absolutely integral to two World Series titles.  His game seven performance against the Indians in 2007 was epic, the game one homer in the World Series and he started game seven in 2008 the right way with a first inning homer.  Pedroia never lost that brashness though like so many athletes he learned to tone it down a bit.  That doesn’t mean he became quiet, just more reserved as most of us do as we age.  I remember his postgame interview after game six against the Cardinals in 2013 when he talked about the joy of seeing his younger teammates celebrate the victory and just standing back and soaking that part of the experience in.  He sounded more like a parent than a teammate.

Pedroia was somewhat rarely for a second baseman a legit five tool player.  He could hit for average, he demonstrated decent power as middle infielders go, his throwing arm while probably not sufficient for shortstop became an asset at second base and his glove was velcro.  Pedroia was the guy Sox fans wanted the ball hit too in a key spot and while not fast he was quick enough and a smart base runner and adept base stealer.  Later in his career he maybe didn’t quite realize he had lost a step but as a Sox fan that was part of his charm.  His innate stubborness and self-belief (“ask Jeff Francis if he knows who I am!” and “laser show!”) were part and parcel of the Dustin Pedroia legend.  Hell he gave Don Orsillo a new line to use “La Luna!” for his homers then went out and had a three homer game in Colorado in 2010.

With Pedroia it wasn’t just the performances or the brashness it was the style and the emotion.  I remember so distinctly his leap into the air on Gomes’ three run homer in the 2013 World Series or the way he seemed determined to fling his body to the ground on ground balls or the play in Texas when he contorted his body to grab a ricocheting throw and throw behind the runner at first to get a key out in Texas.  Maybe most Pedroiaesque of all was a game in Houston where he was angry with the home plate umpire and barked a bit.  He then lined a single to right and as he ran down the line he turned and screamed at the home plate ump.  Childish? Probably.  Funny as hell? Oh yeah.

As I think about it Pedroia has a Larry Bird quality to him.  Obviously not the superstar Bird was but like Bird people got so hung up on what he couldn’t do that they neglected what he could do.  Eventually he won everyone over.  Sox fans loved him, fans of other teams hated him but as Keith Primeau said in a playoff series against the Bruins “they don’t boo you if you aren’t any good.”

I love Dustin Pedroia.  He’ll always be on the Jose short list in a way few players are and I make no apologies for that.  He was a great player and he played with a visible passion.  He announced his retirement today (I assume with a fairly sizable payout) and while I suspect there will be discussions of Hall of Fame candidacy and the like I couldn’t care less about that stuff.  I loved watching him play and I will miss him but the memories he made for me and so many Sox fans will live forever.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: February 01, 2021 at 11:20 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 01, 2021 at 12:54 PM (#6003133)
The end of Game 3 in 2013 is the play I always remember from Pedroia. The amazing reaction and dive to field the grounder hit up the middle, and the perfect throw to Salty. Not the best executed play from there, but hey, they won the series.
   2. The Mighty Quintana Posted: February 01, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6003135)
Loved when they threw him into the cleanup spot in 2008 and he promptly went 4 for 4 in back to back games. Leading to Ozzie Guillen saying, "I never thought I'd have to intentionally walk a jockey."
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: February 01, 2021 at 01:13 PM (#6003139)
You summed it nicely Jose.
   4. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: February 01, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6003145)
NESN article about his best moments. Between what I wrote and the first couple of comments we hit everything on the list...except the play in the Buchholz no-no. Can't believe I forgot that. My best friend was going through a divorce and we went out for steak and beer at Longhorn's. Wound up stuck at our table all night because we didn't want to mess it up. I remember for the 9th inning the entire kitchen staff was standing in the bar watching.
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 01, 2021 at 02:33 PM (#6003157)
Jeter always got a good reception in Fenway, and plenty of Yankees fans admired the hell out of Pedroia. He was the ultimate redass player, and the game needs more of those.
   6. villageidiom Posted: February 01, 2021 at 03:03 PM (#6003161)
I know I've mentioned it here before, but one of the things I loved seeing Pedroia do was when he dove for a grounder he would spin his whole body around just right so that once he had the ball in his glove he was perfectly oriented to make the throw.
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 01, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6003197)
Loved when they threw him into the cleanup spot in 2008

IIRC, for awhile there(like 40-50 games type of thing) didn't he have some Ruthian numbers when batting cleanup?
   8. Darren Posted: February 06, 2021 at 04:42 PM (#6004126)
Well, friends, we had quite a ride with our little buddy, didn't we? So many memories to look back on. First there was our pal Rally being livid (IIRC) about Pedroia not being picked until the second round, as he saw him as one of the top talents in the draft. Then we got to follow him through the minors, arguing with other fans about whether he was a future utility player or a starter or an all-star. After his quick ascension through the minors and his arrival in the big leagues, we got our first taste of doubting Dusty (big mistake). A weak initial showing in 2006 then a couple of rough months in 2007 made it look like maybe the naysayers were right. But the diminutive one would not stand for those who say nay. Yay, he said. He claimed the second base job, won the Rookie of the Year and helped the team to a World Championship. The next year: MVP. Yay indeed.

From there, it was just year after year of excellence. Gold glove defense and very good offense, and just an all-around terrific talent to watch on a daily basis. Sure, some people got carried away and compared him to Derek Jeter, even said he was better than Jeter. (Let's not sit around and point fingers about who did these silly things, Google boy.)

In the end, I think it's safe to say that Pedroia had as good or better of a career than any of us could have hoped for. Sure, his career got cut short at age 33 by a dirty slide from a jerkface-dirty-slider-swing-follower-through-basher-foot-stepper-onner-at-first-baser. But really, what did everyone think the Muddy Chicken had left in him? He had missed 27 games in 2014 and 59 games in 2015. He was a small guy playing second base, a position known for cutting careers short (although that's in dispute).

Dustin Pedroia, a teeny tiny little man, played an amazing second base for the Red Sox from 2007 to 2017. He racked up 51.6 WAR during his career, more than 1,800 hits, almost 400 doubles, won 4 gold gloves, took home an MVP and a Rookie of the Year, and played an important role on two world championship teams. I don't know if that gets him into the Hall of Fame, but like my friend Jose, I'm not sure I really care. He was a great player and a joy to watch. Thank you, Dustin Pedroia.
   9. pikepredator Posted: February 07, 2021 at 11:26 AM (#6004177)
Mighty Quintana - Pedey going ape when they put him in the clean-up spot is one of the first things that come to mind for me. It so perfectly sums up the kind of player he was. Along with leading off the 07 WS with a HR.

Unforgettable. Definitely one of those players who it is easiest to appreciate when they are on your team and you get to see their greatness manifest every day in so many different ways, some big and some small. Probably annoying as hell to play against, too.

HOFer in our hearts, anyway. That's what matters.
   10. bachslunch Posted: February 07, 2021 at 04:33 PM (#6004220)
Dustin Pedroia strikes me as one of those players who might sneak into the HoF late in his candidacy, or maybe get waved in with the right Veterans Committee. His career is a bit short, but he still ends up 22nd in BBRef WAR at the position all time, between HoFers Bid McPhee and Bobby Doerr (and ahead of HoFers Fox, Evers, Lazzeri, and Schoendienst) -- plus his OPS+ of 113 is pretty good for a 2B. It won't hurt any that ballot-geddon will be in the rear view mirror when he's eligible. Of course, the inconsistent treatment players at the position get (Whitaker, Grich, and Randolph are still not in, and Kent is likely to join them, all of whom have more WAR, as do Utley and Kinsler who will likely struggle) makes this no slam dunk and then some.

It'll be interesting, for sure.
   11. Rally Posted: February 07, 2021 at 07:41 PM (#6004226)
Pedroia was the rare kind of hitter who could totally sell out, give a max effort swing, and still have good enough bat control that he was tough to strike out. That’s what allowed him to have good power for his size. I always though if he could keep the same skills in a 6 foot plus body, he would have been Pujols. To be clear, I mean STL Pujols, not Angels Pujols.
   12. Toby Posted: February 09, 2021 at 09:21 AM (#6004381)
Whenever I think of Pedroia I think of how he got off to such an incredibly slow start, not unlike the slow start of Willie Mays. And Francona kept saying to the media something like “I can’t wait to start seeing what everybody saw.” It was an impressive show of patience by Francona and resilience by Pedroia — for each man, one of their defining qualities.

For many of us, I think, the grieving over the end of Pedroia’s career ran its course years ago. This is just a paper transaction. It’s like we can finally do what the wife has been after us to do, take the book off the nightstand and put it back on the bookshelf where it belongs, in a position of honor alongside those other great books. On my bookshelf I shelve Pedroia next to Francona.
   13. Rally Posted: February 09, 2021 at 09:08 PM (#6004507)
Francona is too big to fit on your bookshelf.
   14. Darren Posted: February 28, 2021 at 04:11 PM (#6007039)
For those who may not have seen it, Dan S did a Dustin Pedroia timewarp, which uses ZIPS to predict how Pedroia's career might have turned out if not for the injury:

A little disappointing but not surprising that he wasn't exactly likely to be a HOF lock regardless of the injury.

   15. Phil Coorey. Posted: February 28, 2021 at 09:47 PM (#6007056)
The rise of Dusty coincides with some of the best chats we ever had here. I even remember some great comments on him when he was drafted in 05 and the dreaded Eckstein was mentioned.

For me - the Clay no-hit play, a ridiculous opposite-field Fenway homer on a Sunday afternoon once v TB, the Game 3 2013 WS play was insane as well as his 07 and 08 season, and just his general awesome play at second

I really thought he was a sure-fire bet for 3000 hits and the HOF 4 years ago.

Loved watching him dearly.

Hope you are all well these days, miss you all like sleep.

Take care
   16. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: March 01, 2021 at 08:30 AM (#6007070)
PHIL! Doing as well as can be expected here. Hope you and yours are well.

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