Saturday, April 11, 2009

Woodland, he's just not that into you.

As someone who did not grow up in Woodland, I may not have the proper hometown perspective in the "Dumpgate" issue, but I will offer up my thoughts anyway.

If you are reader of my blog, you will remember my posts on the Red Sox World Series titles and Dustin's MVP award. Although I did not grow up in Woodland, a local guy making the majors and becoming the MVP is a pretty big deal. Not knowing Dustin personally, I could only watch him play and watch the interviews with him to get a sense of the guy. I love the way he plays, scrappy, determined, hair on fire, and excuse my language, but the term red-ass seems to fit the Woodland native.

When I first saw the comments made by Pedroia about Woodland, I thought I had better read the entire interview to see if he was misquoted or if his comments were taken out of context. It does not seem that he was. If you read the entire interview, Pedroia seems to be fueled by a personal sense of anger, a need to succeed and to prove other people wrong. Maybe Dustin is a sweet guy and his friends would say he has a heart of gold, but from the outside, its hard to come away with any other impression.

"It's a dump. You can quote me on that. I don't give a s---- Everyone wants to get out of there. You don't want to stay in Woodland. What do you want to stay in Woodland for? …

"The newspaper there, I don't really get along with. I come from your town. You should embrace me. I play for the Boston Red Sox. You haven't had a lot of major leaguers come out of your city."

It's not just one sentence, it's not just the 'dump' comment, I hate to say it Woodland, but he's just not that into you.

I remember Woodland celebrating his accomplishments and the headlines in the Democrat. The naming of a baseball field in his honor was a pretty nice gesture. I was writing about Dustin's career and thought he was a great player. What about the other side of coin?

Maybe I missed this living in Esparto, but I don't remember the annual Dustin Pedroia charity baseball camp, or bowling night to benefit Woodland little league or the YMCA. I would think that if you loved your hometown, every charity in the city could count on you for signed memorabilia or attendance at charity events.

Having lived in Sacramento, Kings center Vlade Devac was everywhere, donating his time, his memorabilia and even dragging his teammates to community fundraisers. It was easy to tell that Vlade loved his adopted hometown. I realize that not every person may be comfortable in the spotlight, but if your deeds are not speaking for you, your words will.

After the story came out, Pedroia started backpedaling. As a professional athlete, Pedroia's image as a spoiled kid who hates his hometown could cost him lucrative endorsements. I am sure his agent has pointed out to him. It’s a no win situation for everyone. Woodland has its feelings hurt, the Pedroia family must be shocked by the community's reaction, and everyone would just like this whole thing to go away.

The legal trouble facing the Pedroia family could be a major part of Dustin's issues with Woodland. Brett Pedroia will have his day in court, and that is how it should be. No one would consider local news coverage of a family member's arrest and legal problems as a good thing, or think that coverage as particularly fair. Being a public figure dragged into the news by a family member cannot be an easy thing to handle, and maybe this is the lens we need to view Dustin's comments through. Just when he is trying to enjoy a MVP season, the stresses of his family’s struggles are pulling him down.

Dustin does not need Woodland. He has enough money and security to live anywhere he wants and not give a rip about what his hometown thinks. This is his right. Woodland does not need Dustin, but it sure could use his popularity and celebrity for community fundraising and civic pride. I would love to see Dustin come to Woodland and really give back to it. Even if he has to endure a few jeers, he could show everyone where his heart is.

Here is the one thing I would say to everyone. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and realize that we all say things we regret, not very many of us have it printed for the world to read.

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