BOSTON - I'm never going to forgive Manny Machado. For as long as I can remember, my favorite baseball player and favorite athlete overall has been Dustin Pedroia. At the beginning of the 2017 Boston Red Sox season, I can still remember doing immense amounts of research to see if Pedroia had a shot at making the Hall of Fame, if he was able to maintain his current levels of production. After a couple injury-plagued months during his career, Pedroia seemed to have returned to the groove that made him a perennial All-Star when the 2017 season was underway.

But Machado ruined all of that. His slide spiked Pedroia in the back of the knee and the beloved Red Sox second baseman has never been the same since. On and off the injured list during 2017, Pedroia only managed 105 games of play, but he still hit .293, a testament to his natural talent. Off-season surgery resulted in Pedroia missing all but three games during the 2018 season and he was relegated to the role of a player-coach during the stretch run of the playoffs. And he worked so hard to get ready for the 2019 season, only for his knee to act up again and send him on the sixty day injured list.After beginning rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues, Pedroia was eventually transferred to that list on May 27, when he said he wanted to spend some time away from baseball with his family, contemplate his future, and determine if he would ever play again. He has yet to come to a decision on that matter.

But I’ve seen a lot of people clamoring for Boston to cut ties with the Laser Show and move on from him without so much as a second glance. I just don’t get it. The past “controversies” with Pedroia have been proven as entirely misinterpreted and he's done nothing but lead this team and give every ounce of hustle he can muster every time he stops onto the diamond. He's someone who has embodied what it means to play baseball in Boston for his entire career, if that's his decision. MVPs and All-Star Games aside, Pedroia has been a part of three championship teams. That’s not just a coincidence.

Pedroia is someone who has played the game the way it was meant to be played and never left anything on the field. The Hall of Fame trajectory may have been derailed (hell, his career is likely derailed), but if Pedroia needs more time to decide what his future is, then he deserves to be given as much as he wants. He’s given nothing but love and greatness to the Boston fanbase and I believe it’s time we give more respect back to him.

Image via Flickr / Bart Hanlon