I’m almost positive I’ve told this story before. But, hey, it’s my blog. A while ago, a friend of mine was mentioning one of the pitchers on his fantasy team. He wondered how he had pitched the night before. I told him I didn’t know how he finished, but remember seeing some in-game stats and he wasn’t doing well. He had already given up a run or two in the first few innings or so. My friend just looked at me and sighed. He said, “Boy. Pedro just ruined you for other pitchers, didn’t he.”
That’s exactly what Pedro Martinez did. He ruined me for anyone else. How can I appreciate Curt Schilling and his 20 wins? The guy’s giving up runs and baserunners all over the place. How can a 3.50 ERA be your ace? What do you mean the guy didn’t strike out 15 batters?
That’s why Pedro’s going into the Hall of Fame.
It’s all been told and retold countless times. There was Pedro, and there was everyone else. I remember when Curt Schilling was traded to the Sox, there was a lot of talk about having a co-ace. So, I decided to make a list, and find ten stats where Pedro was better than Schilling. It didn’t take long. Over and over again, Pedro’s worst numbers for the previous five years were better than Schilling’s best numbers over that timeframe. There’s Pedro, and then way down there, Schilling. I already mentioned how Pedro made almost any other starter on the Red Sox staff part of the best duo in baseball. He could make a mediocre staff lead the AL in ERA, just about by himself. If he was on your fantasy team, you really didn’t need any other quality pitchers.
But, those are just the numbers. They only tell half the story. Granted, it’s a really nice half of a story.
I always loved Pedro’s swagger. And, not just because he wanted to drill the Bambino in the ass. But, watch Pedro after he strikes a guy out. He doesn’t pump his fist. He doesn’t jump in the air. He just walks off the mound in a circle looking disgusted. As if he can’t believe he actually had to waste time throwing the batter three strikes. Everyone knew the guy had no chance…even the batter himself.
Pedro changed bathroom breaks. When you were in the stands watching the game, people didn’t file down the stairs after the Red Sox finished batting. When Pedro was on the mound, you went to the bathroom when the Red Sox were batting. I saw a great picture once of a lonely guy waiting in line at a concession stand in an empty concourse. Then you saw Pedro on the mound in the monitor over his shoulder. Pedro was pitching. You sit down and watch.
Because, you never knew when Pedro would make history. I’ve mentioned before that when Derek Lowe threw his no-hitter, I didn’t even know he had one going until the seventh or eighth inning. When Pedro was on the mound, you started counting down immediately. The number of outs remaining for him to finally get his no-hitter, or maybe the number of strikeouts left for him to finally reach 21.
Pedro was the first Hall of Famer I was really a fan of. I was too young for Yaz, or Rice. Even Boggs wasn’t in my wheelhouse, even though I saw him play at Fenway once or twice. But, Pedro was the first one who I got to really enjoy at the time. To appreciate what I was looking at in real time…if you can ever fully appreciate what Pedro accomplished every fifth day. It was something else.
And I can’t wait for my first visit to the Hall of Fame with him in it.