Older, wiser Pedro grabs World Series spotlight -- even in defeat
As he walked off the mound at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night, what must
And maybe it was just for the spectacle of it all.
When he got near the dugout, he saw a fan was cursing him at with a daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in his other hand "saying all kinds of nasty stuff," said Martinez. "I just told him 'Your daughter is right beside you. It's a little girl. It's a shame you're saying all these things.' I had to stop and tell him because I'm a father myself and God, how can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?"
The example Martinez set in Game 2 was a far more pleasant one. It wasn't the best pitching performance we've seen this postseason -- that honor surely belongs to his teammate
So few players have combined the ability to amaze and entertain in equal measure for as long as Pedro has. His phenomenal pitching has always been admired, but mostly, we were never quite sure what to make of Pedro himself. Was he for real? Now we know. His talent may have eroded, but as the dominant pitcher he was recedes further into the past, he is replaced by an honest and open former superstar who is comfortable with who he is and what he has become, and who manages to make even an event as big as the World Series feel somehow larger. Still, his transformation has not changed this central fact about him: Pedro Martinez is still a heck of a pitcher.
It should have been clear the moment he struck out
This time, it was clear that Martinez was the man in charge. He struck out Jeter and the chant, which had been out of sync anyway, subsided. The Yankee Stadium organist played a tune that could encourage the chant again, but it too died down as Martinez struck out
Perhaps it was out of respect. New York fans have always relished great athletes from rival teams who know how to put on a show, such as
Even on the Phillies, he's been treated something like royalty befitting his status as a three-time Cy Young winner and surefire future Hall of Famer. He has melded seamlessly into their clubhouse, offering pitching tips to the younger members of the staff -- "Pedro's given me some pretty good adjustments," said Game 3 starter
All of this very nearly never happened. The Phillies had scouted Martinez at the World Baseball Classic, but at the time, had no obvious need for more starting pitchers. General manager
Martinez signed in July and after a handful of minor league starts made his debut on Aug. 12. He went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA and then pitched brilliantly in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, tossing seven shutout innings. Leading up to Game 2 of the World Series, Martinez wasn't acting like himself. He revealed after the game that he had been fighting a cold, complete with coughing, sore throat and chest pain, that had affected his eating and sleeping over the past couple days. "Maybe that's why he hasn't been so happy," said Phillies shortstop
Mixing a surprisingly lively fastball with an array of curveballs and a changeup that Lee called "nasty" in only his second start in the past 29 days, Martinez carried a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning when
He left after allowing a pair of singles to start of the seventh inning, having thrown 107 pitches, his third-highest total of the season. He would be stuck with the loss, despite striking out eight and allowing just six hits in six-plus innings, but that was only thing wrong for him on a night that otherwise went so right. "Regardless of what happened, the fact that I'm the loser today for the game, I'm extremely proud and happy being able to participate," he said. "I made the right decision by coming back."
Hamels said after the game that even though the Phillies were in the World Series a year ago, this time it "actually feels like a World Series." That is due to the cities involved, the wondrous traditions of the two teams and rosters stacked with stars of the past, present and future.
Among that constellation of stars, none can match Martinez for his winning mixture of skill, personality and longevity. Which is why when he left the mound, we may not know exactly what he was thinking. But everyone who watched him exit should all have been thinking the same thing: No matter how, or when it ends, this pitcher, this performance, and this Series, should have all of us smiling.