For at least a half-dozen years we pretty figured that Nomar Garciaparra was the Boston Red Sox’s answer for Derek Jeter.
The dynamic duo/counterparts weren’t always the most productive guys -- though they were close -- but they appeared to represent their fans and their franchises better than anybody in some time.
To steal a line from New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, we were duped.
While Garciaparra was as tightly-wound as most of us life-long New Englanders, he eventually wilted under the difficult pressure. You can’t blame him totally, because we are tough to play in front of. Our passion and cynicism is off the charts.
But we got a second chance at finding Jeter’s “equal,” deep into the back nine holes of Jeter’s career, an antsy, 5-foot-8-ish, dirt-dog with a massive chip on his shoulder.
We got Dustin Pedroia.
And yesterday, he officially became our Derek Jeter as the Red Sox paid (maybe slightly overpaid) the second baseman with a $100 million deal over seven seasons.
This was a long time coming. Of course, it took some house cleaning, too, as in the departure of some influential players in the Red Sox clubhouse, players who were more concerned with whining than about winning.
The influx of the new Boston Red Sox -- i.e. the fun-loving bald guys wearing those ugly, bushy beards -- set the table for management to officially hand this team over to Pedroia, which is where it has belonged for at least two or three years.
We know by know that Pedroia’s worth to this franchise and region can not be quantified by Bill James and his entertainment company. No matter what the stats say, Pedroia is the most important player on the Red Sox roster and he has been since he arrived.