Next Friday, the Yankees will invade Fenway Park for a series with the Red Sox. But the rivalry will never be the same without Jeter and Pedroia…
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry remains set in stone. There’s always an edge on both teams when they play each other. Fans scramble for tickets and roar throughout each contest. But it was never as good as when Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia squared off against each other.
Two players from the same mold, scrappy, intense, and often aloof, each player barreling forth with only one thing in mind – winning.
As fans, we would come to understand that aloofness was born from the intensity with which they played the game. The game as it’s supposed to be played.
Jeter left the game after the 2014 season and Dustin Pedroia probably should have followed him. While Jeter has gone on to become a three-percent owner of the Miami Marlins, with a one-way ticket to the Baseball Hall Of Fame next July, Pedroia’s fortune has been something less.
Two Careers Inevitably Separate
Three weeks ago, Pedroia had the latest surgery to repair his mangled left knee at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. This was the last of many operations performed in an attempt to keep Pedroia on the playing field. Mainly, it’s been a losing battle.
Since the year Jeter retired, Dustin Pedroia has managed only one out of five full seasons with the Red Sox.
In 2016, Boston’s second baseman played a full slate of games (154). True to form, Pedroia, batted .318 with 105 runs scored, and 201 hits. Never a slouch in the field, he made only six errors that season while participating in almost 100 double plays (98) — vintage Pedroia.
Pedroia missed all but three games in 2018, and he appeared in only six games this year. Convincingly, at 36, Pedroia understands this is the end of the line for a broken career. More on that later.
But it wasn’t always that way. From 2007-2014, They battled each other whenever the schedule called them together. With similar numbers, the two players created havoc with pitchers across the league.
A career .299 hitter, Pedroia led the league in runs scored twice, while Jeter, a lifetime .310 hitter accomplished the feat once. Pedroia would finish a season with 160 or more hits five times while Jeter bested Pedroia by one, including a league-leading 216 in 2012. In the MVP, Pedroia finished in the top ten of the MVP voting three times to eight for Jeter.
Over time, Jeter clearly was the better player in terms of numbers. Alas, one can only wonder if Pedroia would have reached those heights given better health.
Famously known as a Yankees Killer, some might say that David Ortiz took the mantle from Pedroia, continuing to add a splash to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. But that’s apples and oranges compared to the qualities brought to the field by Pedroia and Jeter.
Looking Ahead – The Bane Of All Players
Today, all Dustin Pedroia wishes for is “normalcy” (For a good read, see Jen McCaffrey‘s story in The Athletic. The glory days are behind Pedroia now, but the surgeries are not. He faces these realities with the stoicism and positive nature he’s always had:
Side By Side – One More Time
In his final season with the Yankees, Derek Jeter reveled in the accolades and response from fans he received from teams and fans around the league. In all likelihood, his cohort will never have the chance for the same.
The Red Sox will find a way to honor the end of Pedroia’s career. It would be fitting, though, if the Yankees can arrange a re-do of the favor Boston extended to Jeter. The Yankees can do this by inviting Pedroia to a game at Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox are visiting.
Derek Jeter’s attendance will add a stamp to the brief ceremony, commemorating a rivalry that once was – and will never be the same.