Thursday, October 31, 2013
For Pedroia, second title is especially sweet
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was an important member of the Boston Red Sox during their 2007 World Series title run, but as a rookie on a team loaded with big names, he was down the chain of command.
The roller-coaster ride that Pedroia has endured since then is almost difficult to comprehend. So, when the organization came together in shocking, almost magical fashion to pick up the second World Series triumph of Pedroia's career, this time with the star second baseman leading the way, he was able to reflect on an extraordinary journey.
Dustin Pedroia rejoices after the final out of the Game 6 World Series-clinching win.
"We're the best team in baseball, we showed it from Day 1," he said, goggles perched on his head inside the Red Sox's clubhouse after the World Series-clinching 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "Came out, played the right way. We changed a lot of things after the last couple of years. It's a pretty special group. Proud of everybody. Everybody worked so hard, put all their focus on the team and what they needed to do in certain roles. It's pretty special."
Pedroia felt that the assessment of the team's transformation last offseason was off the mark. This was not just going to be a lovey-dovey group that sang "Kumbaya" after games in an effort to simply prove that the negative sentiments lingering from 2011 and 2012 were gone.
No, this was a unit built in the mold of Pedroia.
"That's the thing. I think at the beginning of the year everybody thought that we just brought good guys here. The reality is those guys can flat out play baseball," he said. "That's the reason why we're here. We didn't just get nice guys that are fun to be around, the guys we got stepped up huge and everybody did something that brought something special to the team."
Imports such as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and others meshed seamlessly in the clubhouse. While some of that is a testament to their character, none of it would be possible if the leaders who had been through the ups and downs with the organization did not set such a definitive tone. Pedroia did so off the bat, shrugging aside a thumb injury suffered on Opening Day to put together another All-Star campaign, complete with his third Gold Glove and a career-high 160 games.
Knowing he finally had the right mix around him certainly helped.
"It's kind of funny," he said. "When you're in college and everybody talks about being a team and this and that. That's what we were. That's why this is so special."
Indeed, Pedroia was able, through a remarkable kinship with his teammates, to feel young again. Just like in 2007.