Just remember, years from now, how much you love Dustin Pedroia. These are the days he’s building a tremendous cache of goodwill. He’s clutch. He’s intense. He cares, and he gets it.

There’s nothing not to like about Pedroia. Throw in the fact that he’s relatively small, yet powerful, and he appears to love his wife very much and treats everyone with respect and wears his good heart on his sleeve, and it all adds up to one of the most lovable Red Sox players in history.

Move over Big Papi, the little guy is moving in!

Ah, Big Papi. He was once all those things that Pedroia is, and he was much loved for a long time. Then his name was linked to?PEDs. His production went down. And he started hearing boos at Fenway Park. Now, he’s just a guy. The love that remains has waned. His fountain of goodwill is running dry. He no longer receives unconditional adoration. Instead, love is only given on the condition that he hits. His wonder years are over. If he were to say something outrageous or controversial, he’d be lit up by angry fans like a Christmas tree.

And almost certainly, Pedroia will eventually say something that will open him up to a world of criticism. Maybe he’ll mock his manager and the intended sarcasm will miss its mark. Maybe he’ll call out a teammate for lack of hustle or commitment, and it will happen at a time when such honesty is less appreciated than he calculated. Maybe it’ll simply be a matter of fans complaining that he curses a little too much when he’s surrounded by microphones — which he does.

It’s almost inevitable that Pedroia will put his size 9 (guessing) foot in his mouth someday. He’s cocky. He’s edgy. He’s got an attitude. He’s honest. He talks a lot, and he’s got a sense of humor. All those things that are working for him now could one day betray him. And that’s when you need to remember how much you love him, or else you’ll end up betraying him, too. Stay loyal.

Don’t forget how much you appreciate his glibness, or how much you overlook his impatience, or how you believe his appropriate level of cockiness doesn’t cross the line to unacceptable arrogance. Basically, don’t let the love fade. Don’t judge a comment today differently than you judge a similar comment years from now.

Pedroia is everything we say we want our athletes to be. So if he doesn’t change, why should your feelings for him change? Because his production declines? That would be pretty uncool.

—Bob Halloran is a sports anchor and author. Follow him on Twitter @BobHalloran63.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send submissions to letters@metro.us.

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