May 6, 2004
Enjoy The Drama While It Lasts
If indeed this is Pedro Martinez's last year with the Red Sox, like many I will certainly miss him. I'll miss his strikeouts, his wins, and his overall panache. But, most of all, I will miss the drama. Pedro, please don't go. We might be able to replace the wins, but we'll never be able to replace the entertaining tantrums.
I'll especially miss his confrontations with the Boston media. Who else basically calls a press conference to announce that he's no longer talking to the media? I also love it that occasionally when he's fed up he'll threaten to give everything up and just go back to the Dominican Republic. First, he acts like a pre-teen giving everyone the silent treatment, and then he threatens to run away.
Pedro: "I'm leaving right now, and I'm never coming back!"
Red Sox Nation: "Would you like us to pack you a lunch for your trip?"
Pedro: "Well, okay."
I'll miss the fact that with just a five-minute interview Pedro can create seven days of sports radio fodder. Let's face it. Pedro just likes to wind up the media, and if he goes to another city, he'll never again be able to do it so easily. He only talks to the media about once a month, and really with all the material he provides he doesn't need to talk any more than that. If only he could be that efficient with his pitch count....
I'll miss his feistiness. I love it that when questioned about his velocity this spring, he threatened to throw a fast ball at anyone who doubted him. "Ninety, ninety-one [MPH], that's a good fastball," he said. "If anyone wants to test it, let them stand in there with a bat and I'll hit them at 91. Isn't that a good trick?" One wonders whether he was directing this comment at any specific reporter or whether it was meant for the entire press corps as a whole.
I like it that he keeps track of everyone who has ever slighted him. Remember the guy who heckled Pedro from the front row the night after he signed his contract extension last year? Well, Pedro does too. If that guy ever shows up at a game again, chances are that Pedro will be launching a wild pitch at him in the crowd.
I'll miss just knowing that he cares. Here's my favorite quote from last week when Pedro announced that he was breaking off contract talks with the team until after the season. "I'm just really sad for the fans in New England who had high hopes that at this time I could say, truly, that I was going to stay in Boston, but now they're going to have to compete with the rest of the league." It's nice of Pedro to be thinking of us fans at a time like this. If I'm ever trying to negotiate a multi-million dollar contract with my employer, I hope I can be just as gracious.
I'll miss his quirky quotes. At one point in the 2000 season, Pedro was asked how he felt about a game being rained out. "I think it's romantic, the rain," he said. "On rainy days, it's good to cuddle, it's good to stay home." David Ortiz recently said that part of the reason Pedro gets so upset about criticism is that "he's got feelings." I think Ortiz might be right.
Finally, I'll miss that extra bit of excitement and anticipation on the days when Pedro is pitching. The Boston Globe Magazine has a feature called "Only in Boston" where readers send in short pieces that are representative of Boston. Tara Pierson sent in an item about a day last year when the terror alert was raised to orange.
That afternoon, Boston.com had a "breaking news" box announcing the new terror alert. Three minutes later, it was replaced by another piece of breaking news. This one read, "Pedro Martinez will not be starting tonight's game. Details to come."
A raised terror alert is one thing, but Pedro missing a start? Now, that's serious. It may be a long time before we feel that same way about another pitcher.
©2004 Joe Lavin
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