Dustin Pedroia. Latin for "he who gives a damn."
Pedroia is the anti-Beckett. He sleeps with more intensity than Adrian Gonzalez brings to the plate. He's the Pepto-Bismol to all that chicken and beer that made us queasy and ill. The brightest spot on this team remains covered in dirt at second base.
That above photo was taken in the 16th inning of last Sunday's debacle as Pedroia turned a double play. On the next at-bat, he back-pedaled into center field to make a shoestring catch. In the next inning, A-Gonz struck out on three pitches against a DH. Fast-forward a week. Pedroia laced a double Sunday to extend his MLB-leading hitting streak to 14 games. Joe DiMaggio need not worry. But Pedroia had been refreshingly consistent this season - he's hitting .362 in May and had nine RBIs in the past seven games.
As Red Sox fans across the continent vented about 2011 and offered solutions for 2012 – one positive sentiment was universal – Pedroia never quit. He was the "Charlie Hustle" of that broken-down Red Sox Machine – minus the criminal record and baseball banishment. It was his home run gave the Red Sox their final lead of 2011.
Pedroia's uniform is filthy before the National Anthem is finished. “The Laser Show/Muddy Chicken/Dusty Two Sacks looks like he’s 15 with his cap on while clean-shaven and 50 when it’s off and he isn’t. Pedroia's work ethic makes Cal Ripken look lazy. He's so old school he should playing for Boston Latin. He jumps in the field before every pitch – meanwhile Gonzalez has barely moved all season. Has Pedroia ever even taken an off-day, never mind counted them?
The in-game passion we admire in a KG, Tom Brady or Brad Marchand drives Pedroia, as well. Pedroia plays like the guy most fans wanted to be when they were kids. Even with this three-game winning streak, Pedroia's style of play remains an anomaly for this edition of the Red Sox. It's easy to step up when the team is winning, but Pedroia spoke just as loudly after last Sunday's loss as he did after yesterday's victory.
Pedroia's biggest misstep this year was his slapdown of Valentine after the manager dared to question Kevin Youkilis. But even then, Pedroia spoke up out of loyalty to a teammate. And who doesn't complain about their boss or about how things are done at work. The difference here was that Pedroia had the job security to do it publicly. Pedroia is not the manager. He's not even a team captain. But he demonstrated as much leadership potential in that one statement than anyone else at 4 Yawkey Way. Still would love to see him as player manager of this team. I don't think he'd put up with anyone like himself questioning his leadership style. Just imagine the theatrics involved in Pedroia trotting over to the mound to remove Beckett from last Thursday's game? That one moment alone would have been worth it. It's not an issue of age. Pedroia is 28, the same age as Theo Epstein was when he became GM of the Red Sox. Also turning 28 today, Mark Zuckerberg.
Since the Red Sox played Sunday afternoon, Bobby V. got to spent part of his birthday with Beckett's family. Beckett probably celebrated Mother's Day with a quick 18 before lunch at Popeye's. By the way, Bobby V. not only invented birthday cake and candles, but learned how to sing "Happy Birthday to You" in four languages when he was 2.
Valentine isn't the big problem. Organizational leadership, starting pitching, occupied seats in right field, Jenny Dell's on-camera time all remain in limited supply around Red Sox Nation this season.
As of midnight - you could get a ticket in Section 7, Row 12 for tonight's Red Sox game on Stub Hub costing $4.99. The tickets are cheaper than the beer.
The 2012 Red Sox began their season celebrating the 100th birthday of Fenway Park, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's demise. The season crashed and burned eight days ago with that 17-inning loss to the Orioles that fell on the 75th anniversary of the Hindenburg explosion. Things bottomed out with Beckett's golf outing and his spectacular 2.1 inning, seven-run, cascade-of-boos performance on Thursday night. That came 82 years to the day that Winston Churchill became England's prime minister.
Churchill lauded the RAF for its performance against Germany's Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain with these famous words: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few."
The motto of the 2012 Red Sox: "Never was so little accomplished by so few for so much."
Pedroia can't pitch, so 25 Pedroias wouldn't help this team as long as Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz continue to pitch like Beckett, Lester and Buchholz.. And the leadership issues with the Red Sox start at the top. Ownership threw in the towel on the 2012 season last November when Jonathan Papelbon walked without an offer and Valentine was brought in for public-relation purposes over the objections of the rookie general manager. On top of all that, the payroll and roster was left in shambles by the previous GM. It may take another 86 years to repair the damage caused by Theo's legacy.
You have to wonder if John Henry and his pals are starting to get their affairs in order to put the entire monstrosity on the market, Liverpool, Roush-Fenway racing and all those bricks. Several minority partners in Fenway Sports Group reportedly just bought back $63 million worth of themselves from The Parent Company of This Blog (TPCOTB).
(A side note: after reports of Beckett's golf outing last week, I notified the board of directors at TPCOTB that I could no longer be on the same team as Beckett. The ultimatum was simple: One of us had to go. Fortunately, they saw the light and divested themselves of the Red Sox. OK, that did not really happen, but I'm glad it did.)
Overall, TPCOTB ended up with about $288 million for its 17.5 percent stake in Fenway Sports Group. That puts the minimal mathematical worth of Red Sox, Inc. at $1.65 billion. Magic Johnson shelled out $2 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox Empire would fetch at least that, even with this, ahem, sellout streak. If Ben, Larry and Carmine continue to restrain payroll, that value will only increase. The legitimacy of the "sellout" streak could become a material issue for anyone who might be willing to drop a few billion on Wally and Friends; so could the contracts for Carl Crawford, John Lackey's and Gonzalez. A potential deal for the Red Sox could trigger the ugliest fire sale this side of Bear-Stearns.
Those big-picture issues could club fans in the head someday, but they don't immediately matter when the team sits in last place 6.5 games out. Right now, much of Red Sox Nation would simply be happy with four straight wins and a few players like that dirty little guy at second base.
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