I have two Red Sox jerseys in my closet. One is a dark blue batting practice jersey that looks like it came from an All Star game. There is no name on the back, and I got it outside a Red Sox-Orioles game at Camden Yards. The other is a white home Manny Ramirez jersey. As much as I enjoyed Manny Being Manny, that seems a bit 2007. So I’m thinking I need a new jersey, and then the obvious question becomes: Who should it be?
I’m eliminating all of the new guys right off the bat. The free agents the Sox signed have certainly had a major impact on the team. I love the beards and the new clubhouse culture; I love Victorino’s Bob Marley walk up music, Jonny Gomes’ walk-off helmet punt, and the Koji high fives. For a jersey purchase, though, there’s not enough history with these guys.
I’m also eliminating the rookies on the team. I love to follow the minor league prospects, and I’m completely in the bag for Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts. Honestly, though, I think it’s too soon to sport the rookie jerseys. I prefer to let them settle in for a little bit.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Felix Doubront fall into another category: guys who have been on the team for a few years but still haven’t built up enough trust. There are too many hands over the eyes moments for both of these two, despite their strong seasons.
Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury are similar for a different reason. Every time they start to reach another level of performance, they are hampered by injuries. They are both exciting players, but for this purchase they don’t make the cut.
That leaves the Red Sox veterans. I’ve always admired Jon Lester, both for his performances on the mound and his courage in fighting cancer. I work at a cancer hospital for my day job, so to have an athlete who has beaten the disease use his status to raise awareness hits home for me. His uncertain contract status, though, makes a jersey a slightly risky purchase.
So the short list came down to three players. Daniel Nava may have the best story in the major leagues. At every level in his career, from high school to the playing for the Red Sox, people doubted him and he managed to come through. He was certainly in the running.
Then I thought, how could I pick Nava over David Ortiz? He carried the Red Sox on his back in 2004, bringing a World Series title I wasn’t sure I would see in my lifetime. He did it again in 2007. A Big Papi jersey would be a solid choice, and one I may get in the near future.
In the end, I felt that Dustin Pedroia was the way to go. If there is any player that embodies how Red Sox fans want a player to play it’s Pedroia. The deciding factor, though, was his sense of humor. He constantly provides gems for the media, my favorite being the classic “Laser Show” bit. Now that he’s signed long term, I know I’ll feel comfortable wearing my number 15 Dustin Pedroia jersey to ballparks for years to come.