For video game aficionados like myself (or so I'd like to think), the news that Dustin Pedroia will be on the cover of MLB 2K9 should not come as a surprise. The undersized second baseman from the Boston Red Sox was the heart and soul of the 2008 Red Sox and put up big numbers to boot (.326, 17 HR, 54 doubles, 118 runs). Not surprisingly, Pedroia won the 2008 AL MVP award for his stellar play and inspired performance.
So by now it's been established that Pedroia is very deserving candidate and has every right to be on the cover. However, I must admit that the selection of Pedroia disappointed me because there was someone else who obviously deserved to be front and center.
No other athlete that I can remember defied both rational thought and the laws of physics in the same season. 2008 was clearly the year of Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton turned what every cynic and critic thought was impossible into the improbable by coming back from severe drug addiction to become one of the best players in the American League. Starting for the first time in his major league career in 2008, Hamilton put up huge numbers by hitting 32 home runs and driving in an incredible 130 RBIs. It's impossible to fathom that Hamilton never played above AA ball (besides 40 ABs in 2007) and is putting up such ridiculous numbers in the majors.
And as we all know, Hamilton turned the home run derby at Yankee Stadium into his own coming out party by hitting a miraculous 28 home runs in the first round. But folks, these were not your ordinary home runs. These were long, majestic fly balls that seemed to have no place to go but up and out. Hell, a few of Hamilton's big flies came close to going over the old Yankee Stadium. To me, it was the most amazing moment of the 2008 season and left me with chills going down my spine.
If there was ever a time to make Hamilton the cover boy, now would have been the perfect time. And why not, the guy transcended what everyone thought was possible in both life and on the diamond and truly deserves the honor.
But I have my doubts that Hamilton will ever get such an accolade. After all, this is a former drug addict we're talking about, whose body is covered with various tattoos and symbols. While I personally would have no problem with that, I'm sure some of the suits at Sony would have a tough time having a former drug addict on the cover. As we all know, image sells and Sony will do just about anything to protect their brand and their products.
This piece goes far beyond the video game. I just hope that Hamilton gets the recognition that he deserves in the future. Just because Hamilton is a former drug addict, I hope that he receives the same marketing opportunities that the other big stars (Pujols, Jeter, Rodriguez, Mauer, Braun) get. Whether the marketers like it or not, Hamilton is a budding superstar in baseball and has captured the imagination of baseball fans all over the planet because of his story and his amazing talent.