The New York Yankees‘ Derek Jeter made the announcement recently that he was retiring from the MLB after this 2014 season. He has been playing for 19 years, and it shouldn’t have been all that surprising. I mean, we knew that he was going to leave someday. However, as a Boston fan, it is quite weird to think that after this season we won’t see Jeter tormenting the Boston Red Sox anymore. He truly is a very special player.
Jeter’s retirement plans made me think about the Red Sox. There is no doubt that he is the face of the Yankees, if not all of baseball. I don’t think any other player can come close to his popularity. But does Boston have a player who is somewhat at least the face of the Red Sox?
There are probably only two players who might even come close to being the face of Boston. One is obvious and that of course is David Ortiz. He usually is the first player who comes to mind when you think of the Red Sox. He is the leader of the team, outgoing and beloved in the community. Every Boston fan loves Big Papi. After last year’s heroics, it appears he can do no wrong. However, I don’t think he is quite the Jeter of Boston.
Here is my thought and it really is one simple reason. He didn’t start his career as a member of the Red Sox. It almost appears forgotten now, but Ortiz came up to the major leagues as a member of the Minnesota Twins, who have to be kicking themselves watching Ortiz blossom into perhaps the greatest designated hitter of all time. No, if I am making this Jeter comparison, it needs to be a player who was drafted and came up in the Boston system. It needs to be a player who we saw grow up in a Boston uniform from day one. That leaves one choice, Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia plays with so much grit and heart. He has won an MVP and been a crucial part of two World Series championships. While Ortiz is an incredible offensive force, he is also just a designated hitter. Pedroia plays the middle of the infield like Jeter and is more of a complete player. While he isn’t as gregarious as Ortiz, Pedroia is absolutely considered one of the leaders of this team and when Ortiz does retire, it will become Pedroia’s team. He also is the type of individual who even if you are an opponent or fan, even if you don’t really like him, you still respect him and how he plays.
Because he is a homegrown Boston player and everything he has accomplished in his career, I feel that Pedroia is the closest that Boston has to Jeter. However, even this die-hard Boston fan knows there really is no comparison to New York’s No. 2.