Boston Magazine has a great feature article about Dustin Pedroia. It covers a lot of ground, but two points really struck me:
Firstly, he trashes Woodland:
“[Woodland]’s a dump,” says Pedroia, whose parents run a tire store on Main Street and whose family seems to occupy a position in Woodland roughly equivalent to that enjoyed by the Grimaldis in Monaco. “You can quote me on that. I don’t give a shit.” He shakes his head.
Pedroia acknowledges he’s angry with the town for something he won’t specify, though it’s safe to assume it involves his older brother Brett’s arrest, in January, on child-molestation charges. (Brett has pleaded not guilty.) “Everyone wants to get out of there,” he goes on. “You don’t want to stay in Woodland. What do you want to stay in Woodland for? The place sucks.”
Part of me feels that I should defend Woodland, but it’s hard to argue with Dustin. I’ll just leave it at that before I say something that gets me tarred and feathered.
Secondly, the article talks about Dustin’s tenacity and obsessively competitive nature. I really dug this part:
Pedroia’s coach at Woodland, Rob Rinaldi, likes to tell the story of Chris Patrick and the National Classic. It was 1999, and Rinaldi had recently returned from a major tournament down in Long Beach, where he had coached this Patrick kid, a shortstop. […] Patrick was a soon-to-be senior at a high school near Fresno. Pedroia was a junior-to-be in Woodland. One day, Rinaldi happened to mention to Pedroia just how much he liked Patrick.
“What was so good about him?” Pedroia demanded.
“Great leader. Makes all the plays,” Rinaldi told Pedroia.
“This really bothered him,” Rinaldi recalls today. Pedroia chewed on this for the rest of the year and even into the following high school season, approaching Rinaldi every month or so and asking, “What about Patrick, man? You still think he’s better than me?”
As it happened, the two teams met in the 2000 National Classic, one of the premier events in high school baseball. The squads were booked into the same hotel, and shortly after Woodland checked in, sure enough, in walked Patrick’s team. Pedroia turned to Rinaldi.
“Which guy is he?” he demanded.
“Patrick. Which guy is he?”
Rinaldi pointed him out.
“Go get him right now. Tell him I want to take ground balls in the parking lot right now. We’ll see who’s better.”
In the game, Pedroia gave Woodland its first run when he doubled, stole third, and tagged up on a foul ball on which the pitcher, first baseman, and catcher all converged. (The catcher made the play, but no one covered the plate.) Then, in the seventh, the game’s final inning, Pedroia uncorked a three-run home run to push Woodland to a 4–3 lead. In the bottom half, he flipped a double play. “Dustin single-handedly won the game,” Rinaldi recalls. Afterward, Pedroia gave his coach an earful. “Who you want on your team now?”
That’s the stuff legends are made of.
Anyway, it’s a great read, so be sure to click through and read the whole thing.