Monday, October 19, 2009

Red Sox A-Z: J is for…

J.D. Drew

JD Drew is one of those players I wish I knew personally. I can’t help but wonder if the personality he projects is even close to what it really is. He’s a bit of an enigma for Sox fans, and that has led to a polarizing treatment from the fan base.

The Sox Signed Drew prior to the 2007 season, but most fans knew a lot about him before that. Everyone knew he was the guy who refused to sign with the Phillies after being selected second overall in the draft. He played independent ball for a year, rather than succumb to their contract demands. He was drafted the following year by the Cardinals, as the fifth overall selection. He ended up signing with St Louis, and made his major league debut the night McGwire hit his 62nd homer. He bounced around to Atlanta, and signed a big contract with LA. It was this big contract that he opted out of to allow the Sox to sign him.

Just that quick bio was enough for some fans to make up their minds about him. He was greedy, selfish. All he cared about was the money. Add that to the fact that he tends to miss a lot of games with injuries, and he wasn’t exactly the ideal player for many Boston fans. He was lazy, and didn’t really want to play. I have no idea if any of that is true. I’m also not sure I care.

Can I really blame the guy if he wants to get the most money he can? Why does everyone assume that because he “plays a game for a living” he should take whatever contract is offered him? Just because they’d like to play, he should act like it’s not a job? I’d really like to swim with Shamu every day, and wouldn’t really call that work. It’s just swimming all day, and that’s fun. Does that mean no whale trainer is allowed to ask for a raise? I say good for him. He had the leverage, and used it perfectly.

What is the fascination with playing hurt? Everyone always thinks that it’s a sign of weakness if a player sits out with a hamstring pull, or back tweak. Players should be on the field as long as all of their limbs are attached. After all 80% of so-and-so is better than the guy they put in his place. Is it? People like to point to Curt Schilling’s bloody sock game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. That’s how the game is supposed to be. He was out there outing it all on the line for his team. He’s a warrior. How come nobody brings up his game 1 start? He was still hobbled. He was still a warrior. But, he stunk up the joint. The Sox ended up scoring seven runs that game, but couldn’t dig themselves out of the six-run hole that Schilling put them in. It wouldn’t have been better for the Sox if Schilling hadn’t toughed it out? Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone else took the hill that game in his place? Could we expect his replacement to give up less than 6 runs in three innings? Why is it never honorable to remove yourself from a game for the good of the team? Can’t drew look at the bench and say, “If I’m half a step slower, and have trouble putting my normal swing on the ball, then the Sox are better off with Baldelli in right. He’s a good player after all.” Isn’t that selfishly sacrificing his personal stats for the good of the team? Isn’t that a good thing?

I like JD Drew. He’s a great player, and a great guy in the line-up. Do I think he’s overpaid? Probably. But, it’s not my money. At the end of the day, you look back at JD Drew and see that he contributes to an awful lot of Red Sox victories. That’s about all I expect out of a player.

J is for JD Drew.

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