The New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry is argued by many to be the best and most bitter rivalry in sports. There is absolutely no love lost between fans of the teams, and the intensity has made its way to the field many times, most recently last year when Tyler Austin charged Joe Kelly after being hit by a pitch following a Yankee slide that Boston deemed questionable. However, when you look at the rivalry over the years, there are some players that demand respect from the opposition. Players who not only produced on the field at an elite level, but also exuded what it meant to be a gentleman off of it. Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Mariano Rivera are among the most notable. Among them as one of the most prominent is Dustin Pedroia.
I am a Yankee fan. I’m supposed to hate every Red Sox player. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of the vast majority of them. But for as long as I can remember, it has been impossible for me to hate Dustin Pedroia. Everytime he took the field, he was the best example of a ballplayer. He was clean, but would always slide hard. He would dive for balls out of his reach. He would give 110% no matter the situation. A cold April day, or the World Series, it didn’t matter to Pedroia.
So when I heard him, Alex Cora, and Dave Dombrowski, were holding a press conference to address his future, I was hoping for good news, even though I knew it was bound to be the opposite. No one holds a press conference to say he’s going to be fine. This one was no different. Pedroia announced that, while he’s hoping for the best, he’s “not sure” if he’ll ever play again, and that he will not go back under the knife. You can’t blame him. He’s 35 years old, with 14 years in the big leagues, although he’s combined for only nine games in the past two years, and doesn’t see the point in getting surgery and starting up another long rehab stint only to pray that he makes it back, which has proven to be difficult.
As a Yankee fan, I will not miss Pedroia’s talent. He was a career .294 hitter against us, and he was always a damn thorn in the team’s side. No matter the spot, it seemed like Pedroia always came up big. But, I will miss the effort he gave. He was the embodiment of what it meant to be a MLB player. He was an idol. He was the type of player you want to lead your team.
It saddens me that the former MVP’s career was cut way too short due to injuries. He deserved better. In his last full season he hit .293 with a .363 OBP. He was far from really falling off. He wasn’t what he used to be, but he could’ve given the Red Sox more years of solid production. But age gets to us all, and when you’re a professional athlete it comes even quicker.
When Ortiz, Jeter, and Rivera went on their farewell tours, they were all welcomed with cheers in the rival ballpark. I hope Yankee fans get the chance to thank Pedroia, and that they come through, because he deserves every bit of love that he’ll get.
Thank you Dustin, I hope retirement treats you well.