And now...your 2008 AL MVP!!
There hasn't been a young player like this for the Red Sox since the rookie and sophomore campaigns of Nomar Garciaparra. Pedroia is arguably even better; while Nomar finished high in MVP voting his second year, he did not capture the award.
In honor of Pedey, then, a 2007-2008 digital scrapbook below the fold.
2007 World Series
Dustin Pedroia smashed the fastball right back into CC Sabathia’s face.
Much is made of the size of both men, who occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. CC is listed at 6’ 7” and, charitably, at 290 pounds. He’s not only towering in stature but thick, carrying around a paunch low-slung on his midsection like a kangaroo. Dustin, as we know, is undersized.
Sabathia started Dustin off in the first inning of Game 1 with straight heat, feeding him fastball after fastball just to see what Pedroia would be able to do with the pitch. Dustin finally answered by getting his bat around on a heater, sending a screaming liner straight back toward Sabathia’s head. Though CC would safely glove the returning missile, the point was across: CC fed Dustin fastballs, and Dustin took his bat and brushed him back.
The Sox, as represented by Pedroia, would come out swinging in this series, and through the first 19 innings looked as though they meant to continue piloting the steamroller they’d fired up against the Angels on a straight course for the awaiting NL pennant winner. But somewhere in the midst of game 2, something odd happened. The bullpen uncharacteristically broke down. Well, uncharacteristically except for Eric Gagne, whom everyone in Boston agreed the next day had been the official Least Valuable Player of the night, since he put the two men on that started the Indians’ 7-run rally in the 11th.
Pedroia would also embody the fate of the Red Sox as the pennant series drew to a close. He was just 3 for 17 going in to Game 5, and had spent the ALDS in a two-fer slump as well, and then as the Sox surged to take the last three games, began mashing the ball, finishing with a series average of .345 and a 5 RBI effort in Game 7. Pedroia’s entire season, in fact, was an encapsulation of this concept—from struggles in April to red hot in June and beyond on the way to Rookie of the Year. Tough breaks, followed by breaking out."Still, Pretty Good Year: Part IV ALCS"
Of course in Red Sox Nation we are not surprised that our Happy Scrappy Hero Pup has been named Rookie of the Year for the American League. From the moment his bat woke up in May to the revelation that he played the end of the season and postseason with a broken hamate bone, we've known Dustin was the real deal.
But it's always nice to see the rest of the league acknowledge that, too.
Pedroia doubled in two runs in the second, then was replaced by Granadillo.
The scrappy Pedroia said he never played an exhibition game against a major league team when he was at Arizona State.
But, if he did, "we might have put a whupping on somebody," he said with a smile as he left the clubhouse. "That's how I'd have handled it." AP, Feb. 28, 2008
The first time I saw this, I literally shrieked out loud. I could not believe the way they suddenly seemed to break through the TV barrier and wave hi to us at home, and then to see the cuddling...? It was too much all at once. Seriously.--"Manny Magic," April 18, 2008
5. Dustin Pedroia's double - It's funny how the news of the Bruins' hard-fought win against Montreal (we even switched back and forth to the hockey game during the baseball game, something we never do) seemed to energize the Sox Saturday night. The Sox only began their comeback in the eighth after the news about the B's was announced, and Fenway stirred to life again. You're not supposed to put any stock in coincidences like that, but it's hard to ignore that in this case, the crowd came alive just before the team did, and the cause and effect seemed to be there - you could even see it in the way the players moved around more busily in the dugout as the crowd got louder.
With one out in the eighth and the Sox still down by a run, Pedroia got the run-scoring party started with a double off the top of the Green Monster that just barely missed being a home run. Undaunted (as always), Pedroia cruised into second with a message for Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler: "I crushed that one."
In addition to instantly becoming my favorite Pedroia moment since his "That fuckin hurt!" reaction to sliding into third last year, Pedroia's intimidation strategy also seemed to be effective. Clearly thrown by Pedroia's aggressive style, Kinsler dove and missed the next liner from Papi, which scored the Happy Scrappy Hero Pup to tie the game, and earned him more cuddles from Manny in the dugout, which is either the source of Pedroia's power, or its reward, and frankly, I don't give a damn which one it is.
4. Dustin Pedroia's triple - Okay, not really a triple, but as the little big man himself would probably say, same dif. Once again it was the eighth; this time it was Josh Hamilton who did the flubbing in center field, allowing Pedroia to reach third, score David Ortiz, and tie the game. Said Pedroia afterwards: "Manny gave me a big hug when I got in here, but he hugs me every day, so I don't know what that means."
To say I am enjoying this new subplot to the clubhouse chemistry would be a vast, vast understatement. "Papelbon is my Co-Pilot: Top Ten Moments of the Rangers Series", April 21, 2008
This information was news to me last night, when Jason Varitek was still not back from the flu, and they pointed out that if Kevin Cash was for some reason unable to perform his duties, Dustin Pedroia, of all people, would be the runner-up.
One thing, among many, that I would like to know about this is whether or not Pedroia has any actual experience catching anywhere near the big-league level. Or when the clubhouse was surveyed for volunteers, did he just say "Fuck it, how hard can it be?"
Considering Josh Beckett was slated to pitch last night, it's quite a thing to nominate yourself for. But we know that's never stopped Dustin.
While I want Tek to come back approximately yesterday, and wish no ill on Kevin Cash, a perverse part of me hoped last night that there was some way we could see Pedroia behind the plate. If for no other reason than to see just how tiny he'd be all hunkered down in a crouch, and also to see him approach the position with enough audacity to make up for whatever he lacked in skill.
Instead, Pedroia contented himself with going 4 for 5 last night, which included the go-ahead run. He also stole a base, which only leads me to believe that in addition to expanding his skills as a catcher, he's probably begun challenging Jacoby Ellsbury to footraces during workouts, the better to beat his records this year.
I mean, why not? If Pedroia thinks he could offer a pitcher a target bigger than a teacup or stand a chance against a runner charging from third, why wouldn't he dream big there, too?
Quoth Beckett: "Dustin Pedroia is one of the best baseball players I’ve ever seen.” And Dustin's apparently begun a list of everyone who didn't believe in him. The better, I'd imagine, to find them all and kick them in the kneecaps. So if you're skeptical about any of these new revelations regarding Pedroia, beware. "Raise your hand if you knew Pedroia is our backup backup catcher," April 23, 2008"Pedroia and Youkilis: Enough with this 'Rays sweeping us' crap", May 5, 2008
Pedroia's bat has gone somewhat limp, like many of his teammates over the last seven games, where he's hitting .185/.214/.333. His superpower in this series against the Orioles has been defense--he's a 5' 7" one-man Iron Curtain on the right side of the infield. Yesterday, Pedroia also made the highlight reel with a diving, scrambling putout from one knee in the sixth inning. "If he can get to it," was Remy's conclusion watching him vacuum up grounders at second for another night, "You're out."
In addition to his own fielding prowess, this series his tandem with Julio Lugo has been greater than the sum of its parts. Saturday night, Lugo's midair feed to Pedroia ended the game and a threat against Papelbon, who couldn't seem to locate the plate.
Pedroia also had his own adventures on the basepaths. During the Sox rally in the third inning, Pedroia coasted into third on his stomach on a Kevin Youkilis single, flinging himself with such abandon over the ground that he actually spun about 180 degrees before washing up on third base. Sometimes when he's flopping himself around as baseman or baserunner, I get worried that he's going to break himself one of these days. Most of the time, though, I just figure playing with abandon is what's gotten him here, and it's just too fun to watch. "Ellsbury 'n' Elf", June 2, 2008
Baltimore pitcher Lance Cormier fumbled on the mound, distracted by Jacoby. Then he finally came home with a pitch low and away. Pedroia checked his swing (or so it seemed) for ball four, and trotted toward first base.
And that's when the real shenanigans kicked off. First-base umpire Alfonso Marquez called it strike two, saying Pedroia had gone around. Pedroia, having ignored the appeal to first from the catcher behind him as he took his presumptive walk, looked at Marquez, deadpan, and then, tilting his head just so, mimicked Marquez's gesture.
It was a breathtaking moment of audacity, its acid calm a sharper insult than a shout would have been, and it left Marquez muttering. The ump returned the disrespect with a flip of his hand, waving Pedroia off.
"Right now, I'd get thrown out of the game if I was Pedroia," Remy broke in, giggling. "I would, honest to God, I don't think I could control myself."
Pedroia grounded out to shortstop, turned, and walked toward the dugout, not saying a word. "Well, that is clearly the difference between you and Dustin," Don Orsillo said. "Dustin just walks away."
Not two seconds later, just as he hit the warning track, a "FUCK!" that was audible on camera burst out of Pedroia. He turned back toward the field to puimp out more expletives like bullets.
The umpires fired back. Bob Davidson made the international sign for ejection from the ball game. F bombs continued launching themselves from Pedroia's mouth as Tito herded him into the dugout. Youkilis looked after him as he fled into the tunnel and shook his head. "Go drink some decaf", August 19, 2008
Between the triple in Game 4 and the homer in Game 5, the Large Father may in fact be back, in which case, let us rejoice.Mightily, even. But also not to be overlooked is Dustin Pedroia, who has continued to hit defiantly throughout this series, and with two outs in that seventh inning, singled home the game's first run.
One of my lasting memories of this postseason no matter what happens will be the sight of Dustin Pedroia on the top step of the dugout during the rally, all but glowing with energy, hungry to get back in the box and prove to the pitcher that he ain't shit."Comeback", October 17, 2008