Editor’s note: This week, I’m running a week-long tribute to some of my favorite players, stretching from my earliest days to the present.
What’s to like about Dustin Pedroia? Let us make a list, as the kids are wont to do these days:
- He’s short. Not weird short, but certainly short for a baseball player. He’s one of the few shorter than me in the Majors, at least.
- His swing. His swing is viscious and whips his entire body into unnatural contortions. He doesn’t merely swing for the fences, he swings for Canada.
- His glove. He plays the field with his entire body, launching himself at line drives and leaping high above runners crashing into second base. His plays are routinely highlights, and he fields the position better than any second baseman in the game today.
- He’s funny. The funny quotes that have come out of his mouth in post-game interviews seems to be an endless stream.
- He’s tenacious. Through thick and thin, he’s been at the center of the Red Sox attack, pacing in the dugout, screaming at umpires and delivering hits that turn into runs and wins.
There isn’t a player like Dustin Pedroia in the game today. The combination of guts, ability, consistency and power recall a young Pete Rose or Joe Morgan. But what makes him a special player goes beyond that, to the point that he’s his own man, the face of the Red Sox.
Jason Varitek, the Red Sox’ captain, has likely played his last game with the team. But even if he comes back, the shift towards Pedroia as the unquestioned leader had begun in 2008, when Pedroia put the team on his back in August, pushing them towards the American League wild card and himself towards the MVP award.
He’s a joy to watch. And with the likely need for a new favorite player this season and in seasons to come, there wasn’t much fretting in this decision.
Baseball is special partly because of how its history is celebrated. But what keeps baseball special are the players adding to its history today. Dustin Pedroia, certainly, is carving out his place in the game and should continue to do so.
So here’s to following Pedey, or the Laser Show, or whatever they’re calling him these days.
This is the sixth and final entry in a series chronicling my timeline of favorite players.
Monday: Dwight Evans
Tuesday: Mike Greenwell
Wednesday: Tim Naehring
Thursday: Pedro Martinez
Friday: Jason Varitek