I remember, not too long ago, when Pedro Martinez seemed like the happiest guy on the team. Granted, I only see games on tv (and not on a daily basis anymore), but it just seemed like he was always smiling and goofing. His pitching was effortless and magical.
Nowadays, every time I see him, he looks brooding and whiny. He’s gone from a so-so reliever with the Dodgers to a so-so (then suddenly brilliant) starter with the Expos and finally to the Sox. Somewhere along the way, he changed from being “Ramon’s little brother” to another ego-filled ass out for himself alone. Somehow, he went from the skinny kid who made everyone forget there ever was a Roger Clemens to the “oh not him again!” postseason disaster who decked an old man and gave the Yankees hope.
I don’t know if any of this is fair from this distance. I doubt that it is. But at this point I’d rather see the Sox let him go quietly at the end of his contract. We don’t need any more superstars. Theo Epstein proved that to me when he traded away Nomar Garciaparra and created a real team (something I am so glad to have been wrong about).
Tonight, however, Pedro has a chance to do something for himself and his team (and millions of fans). He’s been forced off the stage by guys like Ortiz and Bellhorn, Damon and Varitek, Mueller and Cabrera, Wakefield and Lowe… and, of course, Foulke and Schilling. With one game (his first ever World Series start), he can repair his tarnished image and bring the team closer to the end of an 86-year-old nightmare.
As Bob Ryan says:
One game to out-Curt Curt. One game to say goodbye. One game to say, “Pay me.” One game to show off for his countrymen watching on TV down in the Dominican. One game to have people back home chanting “Pe-dro!” in the living rooms and bars of New England. One game to remind everyone that he still can pitch as well as anyone in the world. One game to put the Boston Red Sox up, 3-0.
Twenty years from now, will fans look back and remember him as a member of one of the greatest teams in Sox history? Or just a brilliant ass who just happened to play for the Sox? Will he be Luis Tiant? Or will he be Babe Ruth*?
*I’d rather he be Loo-ie, but I’ll take Ruth, who pitched a 6-hit shutout in Game One of the 1918 World Series.