By now all Yanks fans have had to welcome some new faces to the club and watch the man we thought would take the mantle of Captain from Jeter walk away for a butt ton more money.
There’s bigger implications here than losing one of the best second basemen in the game: the Yanks lost what they thought was the future face of their franchise. This seems like a meaningless thing to an outsider of this great game, but it’s something that affects all facets of a franchise from the win-loss column to the fans to the stands.
Let’s take a quick look at our eternal rivals to see what kid of difference this makes:
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Granted there are a great many young and energetic players on this team, and Ortiz could be argued to be a co-captain, but Pedroia is the soul of the Sox. He plays hard both on defense and on offense, is great with the fans, and most importantly he grows a damn good beard for a small guy. He brings an energy to the team that can’t be calculated but is impossible to be without. This team didn’t go from worst to first for no reason. They had a good team with good players and more importantly a face to rally around. This keeps the fans in coming to the park, enduring extremes of weather any sensible person would avoid, to cheer and root for their team and their man and bring the home field advantage to full steam. It gave them a name they could be proud for years to come to put on their kid’s jersey. It gives the players a reason other than making literal boat loads of money to go out on the field to play with energy, to play to win, to play for fun, and play to make us forget about the asshats at work or the food that has to be put on the table.
…And of course it brings revenue in for the team to spend on players to surround their face with. Which never hurts.
The Red Sox and Pedroia show us what can happen with a talented kid swinging a piece of lumber with the fortitude to carry a team not just statistically, but spiritually. And he can do this every game. Tanaka, who has the potential to be great, can only go out there once a week. CC was a great addition years ago, but the load he had to shoulder through the playoffs was enormous and obviously can’t happen every day. Yes, his spirit helped rally the team around him, but only for a short bit. 162 games is a loooooong season, and having a guy out there 155 of them that everyone can get behind makes a big difference. The team needs a position player captain, and I’m scared to say I don’t know who that will be and is likely no one currently on the team.
Yankees, we need a Pedroia. We need a face of the franchise. Not just so we can win, but so I can love going to the game more than I already do.