Scalpers had it easy. It didn’t matter who the opposing team was. It didn’t matter who the other stars in the game were. It didn’t matter who the opposing pitcher was. If Pedro Martinez was on the mound, that’s all that mattered. Pedro made it a must-see game. If Pedro was pitching, you scheduled your day around the game. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I’ve mentioned before that the Red Sox have been blessed with quite a few talented pitchers in recent years. Roger Clemens, Josh Beckett, and Curt Schilling have all toed the Fenway rubber. Pedro was just different. I’ve always wondered how unique the feeling was to Pedro. Did any other pitchers invoke the same feelings? How much better than everyone else was he?
Take Josh Beckett. He’s a great pitcher. He’s the ace of the staff, and would be the ace of most staffs. When I look at the schedule, and see he’s supposed to pitch I feel good about the game. I know that the Sox should have a shot to win. I check the opposing team. If it’s the Yankees, I know it will be closer. If it’s the Royals, I feel even better. I check the opposing pitcher. If it’s Pettitte, I feel better about his chances. If it’s Grienkie, I feel much worse. But with Pedro, I didn’t do any of that.
If I looked at the schedule and saw Pedro listed, I knew the Sox would win. Not have a shot at winning. Will win. If I saw it was the Yankees, I assumed it would be a closer victory. If I saw it was the Royals, I wondered if Pedro would finally get his no-hitter. I felt bad for the opposing pitcher. If it was a poor pitcher, he was about to get thumped. If it was another ace, he was about to lose a close game where it probably wasn’t his fault. He just ran into Pedro. The only time I’ve felt even close to that was Josh Beckett during the 2007 playoffs. He was dominant. When the Sox trailed in the ALCS, I knew that they would at least win Beckett’s start. It wasn’t a should. It was a will. Beckett gave me that feeling for a couple weeks. Pedro’s lasted a few years.
When Pedro was on the mound, you started counting for records in the first inning. If the first guy made an out, it was only 26 more for the perfect game. If he struck out one guy in the first inning, he was a bit off pace to get to 21. I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t even know Derek Lowe had a no-hitter going until the sixth inning. With Pedro I would have known. I would have been tracking it for six innings by then.
Pedro has ruined other pitchers for me. How can Beckett be an ace? He had like 16 wins. How can Lester be having a great game? He’s given up two runs already. Pedro has set the bar so high, nobody can ever reach it.
So I need to ask fans from other teams and generations. Did other pitchers give such a feeling of confidence? When Clemens was on the mound, did you mark down the win before the game started? Does it matter to Phillies fans who Cole Hamels is facing? When Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia pitched for Cleveland, did you need to check the other line-up? If Tim Lincecum gives up a run in the first inning, is it cause for concern or par for the course? The Red Sox have had three other 20-game winners in the last ten years. None of them gave me the Pedro feeling of confidence. If they didn’t do it, does anyone?
M is for Martinez, Pedro.