Before Wednesday, Dustin Pedroia was one of my favorite baseball players. Largely because he's such a baseball player, you know? When he's wearing the uniform, it seems like there's nothing else in the world he cares about. He might be a great husband and father. I hope so, because the world's a slightly better place if he is. But I'm perfectly happy knowing exactly nothing about his off-the-field life. I prefer to appreciate him for what he is: the baseball player who once told David Laurila, "You know what? I'm a guy who doesn't care about numbers and stats. All I care about is W's and L's. I care about wins and losses. Nothing else matters to me."
Granted, a lot of players will say exactly the same thing. But now Pedroia's really one of my favorite baseball players. Because very few players in the history of the game have proved that like Dustin Pedroia proved it, Wednesday when he signed a contract extension with the . Because, as a few thousand pundits have punditized, Pedroia could have waited a spell and, in the absence of some catastrophic injury, gotten a LOT MORE MONEY, whether from the Red Sox or some other club.
Remember what Pedroia said about wins and losses a few years ago? See if this, from Wednesday's press conference, rings a bell:
It was a no-brainer to me. This was a place where they gave me an opportunity to play professional baseball. I want to make sure I do all I can to prove to those people who take a chance on me right. I'm not here to set markets or do anything like that. I want to make sure the team I'm on wins more games than the other team's second baseman. That's the way I look at it.
I don't believe that was exactly a dig at Robinson Cano ... but the fact remains that Cano's going to sign with someone, probably the Yankees, for a LOT MORE MONEY than Pedroia just signed for ... and the difference between Pedroia's salary and Cano's salary will probably make it easier for the Red Sox to win more games than the Yankees.
Believe it or not, he's done something like this before. According to this story, when Pedroia was in college he gave up his scholarship so his coach could sign better pitchers.
And win more games.
Almost every player wants to make Scrooge McDuck-style piles of money, and almost every player wants to play for a winning team. It's just a matter of priorities, and most players will take $12 million from a losing team instead of $8 million from a winning team. Which does seem strange to many of us, right? After all, who can't live on $8 million? Who isn't set for life with $8 million?
But that's easy for us to say. For most athletes, the money isn't about buying stuff; it's about prestige and respect. We care about those things, too. We all like to think we're Dustin Pedroia, but most of us probably wouldn't be.
Pedroia's new contract doesn't make him a great person. It does make him the player we wish played for our favorite team, and the player we wish we would be. Alas, there just aren't enough Dustin Pedroias to go around.
For much more about Pedroia and the first-place Red Sox, please visit SB Nation's Over the Monster.