A View From Studio 3: Pedroia refreshing in contrast
Somewhere between the news of the Royal Baby and the infantile behavior exhibited by Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, this week's story involving Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia slipped through the cracks a bit.
It shouldn't have.
If ever there was a nine-figure contract that was treated as an afterthought, this was it. Maybe it was because it came to pass in a week that featured more dramatic news. Maybe it was because the deal had been in the works for a while. Maybe it's because very few expected Pedroia to ever test free agency.
The former MVP's $100 million contract extension with Boston is reason for baseball fans from all corners of the world to celebrate.
Pedroia is the polar opposite of Rodriguez and Braun in both style and reputation. He's an athlete you want your children to emulate on the field, a player who talks about his team with the same enthusiasm he talks about his parents being role models. He's a regular guy who likely forfeited tens of millions of dollars by extending his deal before reaching free agency.
"It was no-brainer to me," he said Wednesday after the deal was announced. "This was the place where they gave me an opportunity to play professional baseball, so I want to make sure I do all I can to prove those people who took a chance on me right".
Loyalty coupled with a discount rate. Refreshing.
"I'm not here to set the market or do anything like that," Pedroia said. "I want to make sure the team I'm on wins more games than the other team's second baseman. That's how I look at it. That's what I play for."
And he plays the game the way it was intended to be played.
The 160-pound star never changes his style. Winning or losing, healthy or injured. It's down and dirty, with maximum effort in every at-bat and every play. He leads by example and offered a humble response when asked if he has thought about possibly being named captain of the Red Sox.
"I really don't think about it," he said. "Every day I get here, I'm focused and I believe we have a ton of leaders on our team. It's not just me.
"There are tons of guys that are leaders and impact our team in a huge way, so I don't feel there's one guy who should have a voice on this team or anything like that. It should be everybody to hold each other accountable."
Players with the ability, attitude and work ethic of Pedroia don't come around very often. When they do, you hold onto them. Tight. It's great for all involved this deal got done.
Without drama and nonsense.
There was plenty of drama 30 years ago this week. Perhaps the most famous argument in the history of the game took place on the infield at the old Yankee stadium. Watching video of the Pine Tar Game brought back memories of a simpler time.
It was July 24, 1983, and Royals star George Brett hit what appeared to be a go-ahead home run off Yankees star closer Goose Gossage. Facing their bitter rivals and doing anything to gain a physical or mental edge, Yankees manager Billy Martin challenged that the pine tar on Brett's bat was too high up the barrel.
Brett was called out.
He promptly lost his mind, had to be held back by umpires and teammates. Arms and legs flailing. Tobacco juice flying out of his mouth. It looked too wild to be real.
It was. And it was completely out of control.
In a recent interview, Brett recalled going into the locker room after the game and he couldn't breathe. He was hyperventilating. He needed a brown paper bag in which to breathe. It was angriest he'd been in his entire life.
The game was over. The Royals appealed the ruling and won. The game was completed about a month later. Brett, who was ejected from the game in the original incident, watched the completion of the contest from an airport bar stool.
The Yankees made a mockery out of the game by using players out of their natural positions. Martin even protested that Brett never touched first base when rounding the bases a month earlier.
He was shot down. The Royals won, 5-4.
Matt Yallof is the co-host of The Rundown on MLB Network from 2-4 p.m. ET. Follow him on twitter @mattyallofmlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.