Obviously this will not be a popular pick for this list. Getting straight down to brass tacks, I have never been a huge “Dustin Pedroia” guy from a character standpoint.
These observations got started at the beginning of the 2012 season when he engaged in a public spat with Bobby Valentine due to some negative comments the manager had made about third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
It was a terrible look as the team got off to a tumultuous start to the season. Many fans were still frustrated with the historic collapse the Red Sox had the previous September when they blew a playoff berth in game 162.
The most controversial incident of Pedroia’s career came on April 23, 2017 moments after reliever Matt Barnes let a fastball sail high towards the head of Manny Machado. Barnes was immediately ejected.
John Farrell sprinted out of the dugout to argue with the umpires that the ball had initially made contact with the barrel of the bat, was actually a foul ball. While both parties were discussing that possibility, Pedroia was clearly caught on camera pointing to the direction of the Red Sox bullpen and telling Machado, “It wasn’t me, that was them.” Repeating those sentiments multiple times.
It put Pedroia die-hards in the awkward position of having to sell their souls and defend Machado. Many of whom were hypocritically calling for the Orioles third baseman’s head only a couple days earlier when he executed a dirty, cleat first slide into Pedey’s leg, which might have subsequently ended his career from a competitive aspect.
To this day, those same people will insist the decade long second baseman wasn’t actually ratting out his own bullpen, but the coaching staff for ordering the retaliation. However, even after being afforded several moments after the game, as well as final five outs, rather than distance himself from the situation or attempting any damage control, Pedroia doubled down by telling the media, “That’s not how you do that.”
It should be noted, this incident took place less than 30 games into the season, which was the first in 14 years that David Ortiz was not a player in the Boston dugout. Under his leadership, would Big Papi have allowed a member of the Red Sox to take the side of a hated division rival had he still been an active player? I find that hard to believe, but Pedroia huggers essentially would have no choice but to cop out to it.
Every aspect of this incident was handled as poorly as possible. In a moment when the Woodland California native should have been a leader, he seemed to decide he was bigger than the game and bigger than his allegiance to his team, and the Boston fanbase as a whole.
In late July, Pedroia once again found himself in a cloud of controversy when there were rampant rumors that he egged on David Price against Dennis Eckersley in the infamous charter plane incident. Several conflicting reports were published as to how prominent his role actually was.
Nonetheless, the defacto “Leader of the Red Sox” did not apologize to Eckersley for what took place on that plane, nor did he condemn the actions of his teammate. Instead, he waited only until the backlash reached the intensity of a full-blown national story to attempt to address the situation. Half of Red Sox Nation never bought it, and the embattled 2008 American League MVP subsequently deleted his Twitter account.
And finally, during the 2017 ALDS in what would end up being one of the last meaningful at-bats in Pedroia’s career, he struck out with the bases loaded in the second inning and accosted the umpire. John Farrell came out to protect his second baseman but was consequently ejected by the home plate umpire, effectively being the final act of his own tenure with the Red Sox.
It was a moment when everyone on the team needed to be sharply focused to avoid being eliminated from the postseason, but Pedroia again failed as a leader by completely losing his composure.
Oh and by the way, how come he was a no-show at Johnny Pesky‘s funeral? Pedroia makes number two on my list.