Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Thoughts on Pedro Martinez

1999 was a special year.  The Red Sox, despite three appearances since Bill Buckner, had not won a play off game in 12 tries over 3 playoff series.  The Indians and the Red Sox were facing each other in the ALDS and in a normal year, I would not expect anything different.  The Indians were led by a (still normal) Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Roberto Alomar and Harold Baines.  The Red Sox had Nomar, and really not much else.  It seemed so long ago.

The difference this year was palpable.  One thing, I mean one Pitcher, slighter than my 13 year old son made this all different, all special.  Pedro Martinez won 23 games, had an ERA of 2.07 and led the league in Strikeouts with 313.  He won the Cy Young that year and was second in the MVP only because a couple of sportswriters decided not to put him on the MVP ballot (Thanks George King!!).  He was the difference this year that we did not have in 1986, 1988, 1990 or 1995.  Yes we had Roger Clemens, but he usually shrunk in the playoffs.  Not Pedro.

His Game 5 appearance, while hurt, while on fumes after leading the team this far, was one of the greatest performances in big league history.

That's what I was thinking while watching his Hall of Fame Speech and number retirement 16 years later.  He's a little pudgier.  He's a little more humble.  But Number 45 was still his huge personality self.  He was speaking off the cuff.  People hated that he didn't seem prepared.  He was still pissed about that 1999 vote and people were pissed about that.  But he was being himself and that what most of us loved.

Although he was only with the Red Sox for 7 years, they were 7 ELECTRIC years that we will never experience again.  Not many righthanders could do that.  And that is when the boys perked up.  All of a sudden, they were interested in Pedro.  The best righthander in Red Sox history?  All of a sudden, 1999 doesn't seem so long ago, when the boys are interested.

More importantly, he is a Red Sox for life.  And that is what's important to me.

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