As we approach the end of the J.D. Drew era, what can we conclude about the enigmatic right fielder? His Churchillian 'finest hour' came during the 2007 post-season, with a critical grand slam against Fausto Carmona. At other times, he was capable of carrying the team with mercurial, epic heights; occasionally, although playing hard he seemed indifferent.
We love guys who wear their heart on their sleeve. Kevin Youkilis disappoints. He punishes equipment and looks penitent and fretful. Dustin Pedroia strikes out and curses the day he was born. He even gets a base hit and spins around while running to scream at the umpire over perceived indignity. But Drew approaches the marathon with as even-temper as is humanly possible. He seems to be a machine, one that gets good jumps on balls hit his way, throws accurately and well, hits the cutoff man, and runs the bases with quiet efficiency.
Baseball is a game of failure. Three successes of ten at the plate make you an all-star. Four of ten hasn't occurred for seventy years. We have blown saves, caught stealing, missed signs and other transgressions. And to quote George Carlin, the game is played at the park, not War Memorial Stadium. Every player has a finite playing mortality and Drew's seems to have come prematurely.
Or not. I don't think for a minute Drew used performance-enhancing drugs. But Peter Gammons cautioned that after drug testing came on the scene, mid 30's guys would start playing like, well, older players. The immutable (unenhanced) laws of physiology and aging have returned to the game. Home runs are down, scoring is down.
We need shed no tears for J.D. Drew, and in fact, part of his problem emanates from our expectation of performance per year...PER DOLLAR. And most of us contend, with statistical support, that even at his best, Drew didn't match OUR expectations. We want to compare the contemporary player's salary to our heroes, reminiscing that Drew was no Yaz or Lynn or Dewey.
Did Drew give ever not give an honest effort, play hard, or shirk any of his duties? I think not. But maybe he never was one of "our guys"; as Shakespeare would remind, "the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves."