Most of Dustin Pedroia's best quotes never saw sunshine, because he reserved his most pointed barbs for teammates, opponents, and especially former manager Terry Francona, and he kept them mostly behind closed doors.
But when you talk non-stop motormouthed crap like Pedroia did, even the B material occasionally bestowed upon the rest of us qualified as solid gold.
And so in that spirit, here are my 10 favorite Pedroia quotes one day after he announced his retirement, as well as a little of what they told us about him.
1. "Couple years ago, I had 60 at-bats, I was hitting .170 and everyone was ready to kill me, too. What happened? Laser Show."
The Laser Show is probably the first phrase that comes to mind when considering Pedroia's winkingly performative braggadocio, but the context of this quote tells us as much about him as the vivid imagery it conjures.
He said it in 2010 when franchise icon David Ortiz was enduring one of the few rough patches of his Red Sox career, hitting just .149 in early May. Pedroia rose to the defense of an embattled teammate and maybe it's just a coincidence, but Ortiz responded with two hits the next day and hit .288 for the rest of the season with 29 homers and 96 RBIs.
We remember that quote for what it said about Pedroia's confidence, but by the end of that campaign, Ortiz was Big Papi again.
2. "What do I care? I'm rich as (expletive)."
I was in the midst of conducting what I suspected would be a bit of a contentious interview when Pedroia dropped this gem. His $110 million extension in 2013 was generally viewed as team-friendly, a criticism that had also been leveled at the $40.5 million deal he had signed five years earlier.
Now, early in 2014, I was asking him about the $240 million extension his former Yankees rival, Robinson Cano, had signed with the Mariners. In light of their respective career accomplishments, did Pedroia feel underpaid?
Nope. He had already guaranteed he would retire with more than $150 million to his name. How much more did he need? And the best part is, he clearly meant it.
Pedroia loved himself some Nature Boy Ric Flair, and I happened to be standing at his locker when the signature screecher of that exhortation surprised Pedroia in 2011, rendering the former MVP dumbstruck and momentarily speechless. It only took Pedroia a split second to drop a, "Whooo!" on his hero.
What made this quote was the way Pedroia could use it at any moment, typically on a sleepy morning before a matinee in, like, SkyDome. It would put a jolt in teammates, coaches, and reporters before we all returned to our haze and Pedroia, in full uniform, would sprint out to the cage, maybe stopping to slam his bat on a trash can on his way out the door.
He had a natural WWE presence and would've made an incredible heel of a manager who occasionally got body slammed when his mouth got him in trouble.
4. "Tito, am I a table setter or a table?"
Another personal favorite, Pedroia relayed this one to Francona in 2011, when injuries forced him into the cleanup spot for 25 games. Pedroia considered himself the spark plug who fought his way on base for the Ortizes of the world to drive in, but necessity forced him into a new role and he liked complaining about it.
Here's the thing, though. Pedroia started 34 games at cleanup over his career, and he was an absolute monster, hitting .369 with seven homers and a 1.036 OPS. Extrapolate that home run rate over his full career, and he would've finished with 304 long balls instead of 140.
The Red Sox needed it, so he delivered.
5. "Ask Jeff Francis. I'm the guy who took him onto the Mass. Pike."
There are a million different versions of this quote, usually with more colorful language, but I'll go with the rendition Pedroia joked about delivering after the fact. It came after a security guard asked to see his pass when he tried to enter Coors Field before Game 3 of the 2007 World Series.
Pedroia had led off Game 1 with a homer to left off the Rockies ace, kickstarting a sweep. Deep down, I'm sure Pedroia actually loved the disrespect, because nobody played that card better.
6. "I'm the strongest 160 pounds in baseball. You're looking at 160 pounds of USDA Grade A beef!"
When Pedroia reached the big leagues in 2006, he wasn't exactly cut. He still had some baby fat, and he didn't necessarily look like Rookie of the Year material. We quickly came to recognize that he played so far beyond the sum of his parts, it hardly mattered that he wouldn't win any bodybuilding competitions.
Except as the years passed and Pedroia became fanatical about his offseason conditioning, he developed into a chiseled little machine. And he never missed an opportunity to flaunt his biceps in the face of bigger, more naturally muscular teammates.
That dedication to strength and conditioning would've extended his prime, at least until one bad slide started him on the road to retirement in 2017.
7. "You thought my parents would name me (bleeping) Peewee?"
At a roast of David Ortiz after the legend's retirement, Pedroia relayed the story of the man he called "Big Pun" -- short for "Big Punisher" -- not actually knowing his first name until nearly a decade into his Red Sox career.
In Pedroia's retelling, the Red Sox were playing the Indians when the rival catcher said, "What's going on, Dustin?" in the on-deck circle. Ortiz demanded to know what he had called him, and when Pedroia informed him he had called him by his name, Ortiz said, "I though your name was PeeWee."
When Pedroia told a joke, he liked nothing more than being the put-upon butt of it.
8. "That's not how we do things around here."
The marriage of Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox in 2012 was doomed from the start, a cartoonish overreaction to the failures of 2011. It didn't take long for Pedroia to make that clear to the world when he called out Valentine for publicly rebuking Kevin Youkilis in a TV interview.
While a case could be made that Pedroia acted inappropriately towards a superior, the reality was Valentine never should've occupied the manager's office to begin with, and the Red Sox righted that mistake a year later by hiring John Farrell and winning a World Series.
Leave it to Pedroia to speak for his teammates, the fans, and the media in sending a clear message -- the man is unfit for the job.
9. "You owe Dylan an apology. You cost his daddy an RBI. That's the worst baserunning I've ever seen."
That was Pedroia to right-hander Josh Beckett in 2012, after the latter ran into an out on the bases in a 5-1 victory over the Phillies. Pedroia loved going after sacred cows, and Beckett was the alpha male of the pitching staff, a swaggering Texan who carried himself like some kind of sheriff. That's exactly the kind of guy Pedroia enjoyed cutting down to size, but the beauty of Pedroia is that Beckett loved it.
Oh, and Dylan was his then-2-year-old son.
10. "There's one guy on planet earth who could turn it. And you're talking to him."
We'll take this one from Pedroia's retirement press conference. He sent most of the 45 minutes reflecting on his career and humbly thanking the coaches, doctors, and teammates who'd help him spend such a rewarding 14 years in the big leagues.
But he couldn't resist one final bit of bravado, when asked if he harbors any resentment over the play that ended his career, a bad slide up the back of his leg by Baltimore's Manny Machado while stretching to anchor his foot to the bag.
"I'm not upset about anything anymore," he said. "That play could've happened my rookie year. When you play second base and you play second like me, you hang on the last possible second to get the ball because, you watched it, if there's a slim chance at a double play, there's one guy on planet earth who could turn it. And you're talking to him."
That seems as fitting a sendoff as any.