Sep
09

The end of an era

By

While waiting for the Sunday afternoon Yankee affair to begin in Seattle, I flipped on the first game of the Mets-Phillies day-night doubleheader. As I watched that Phillies’ victory unfold, my thoughts landed on the Mets’ starter, not long for the game, and I thought that I could be watching the end of an era.

Pedro Martinez didn’t make it into the fifth inning on Sunday. He threw just four innings and allowed six earned runs on seven hits and a walk. In a very un-Pedro-like fashion, he struck out just one Phillie. That loss would drop Pedro to 5-4 on the season with a 5.44 ERA. In 91 innings, he has allowed 18 home runs while striking out just 68, and he is Pedro in name only.

In two months, Pedro Martinez will be out of a job. His four-year deal with the Mets expires at the end of the season, and after various injuries and surgeries, he will have made around 80 starts for the Mets. For $53 million, they probably expected more.

Now, Pedro will probably get a decent enough contract offer for next year. He’ll be 37 come opening day, and this year’s troubles could be attributed to his rebounding from arm surgery. But no matter what, Pedro is not the Pedro from the days of Who’s Your Daddy? chants. He’s a different pitcher, no longer feared and not nearly as effective as he was while on Boston.

For me, this realization that Pedro is nearing the end is a somber one. In a way, it’s just a part of the changing of the guard in baseball. The kids grow up, they get old and they lose it. Baseball is fleeting; it takes away the skills of the very best after just a few years, and all that’s left are shells of what they once were. Rare are the Jamie Moyer’s, Mike Mussina’s and Mariano Rivera‘s, pitchers who have maintained their effectiveness and, in Rivera’s case, dominance well past the usual expiration point.

When Pedro was on the Red Sox, I always wanted the Yankees to face him, and it wasn’t because they somehow managed to find ways to beat him. I wanted to watch Pedro pitch because what he did was an art. Remember September 10, 1999, nine years ago from tomorrow? That was the day the Yanks went 1 for 27 against Pedro, and he struck out 17 hitters. The Yanks scored a run on a Chili Davis home run, and Chuck Knoblauch reached on an HBP only to get caught stealing. It was dominance.

Over the years, Pedro would win some and lose some against the Yankees. But always the games would be fun. He would be cocky on the mound and a joker in the dugout when he wasn’t pitching. Pedro, a member of the hated Red Sox, will always be a part of the years of Yankee dominance. He was the best pitcher in the league during the years when the Yanks were the best in the biz, and he couldn’t do anything about it. But he gave it his all every time out much to my delight.

While Pedro once said that, to the Yankees, he just tips his cap and calls them daddy, I’ll have to tip my cap to Pedro when he finally retires. It was a pleasure watching him do his thing against the Yankees during his heydays on the Red Sox, and I’m sorry to see this era end as Pedro’s flame is seemingly dying in a hurry.

Categories : Analysis

51 Comments»

  1. steve (different one) says:

    at his peak, Pedro was the best ever.

    or at least the best i have ever seen.

    the dominance in that era, in that division, in that ballpark is just stunning.

    • radnom says:

      He had a few of the best pitching seasons in modern baseball history in the late 90′s. Absolutely sick. Maddux as well.

      • Best single season Adjusted ERA+ in the Live Ball Era:

        1.) P.Martinez, ’00 – 291
        2.) G.Maddux, ’94 – 271
        3.) G.Maddux, ’95 – 262
        4.) B.Gibson, ’68 – 258
        5.) P.Martinez, ’99 – 243
        6.) D.Gooden, ’85 – 228
        7.) R.Clemens, ’05 – 226
        8.) R.Clemens, ’97 – 221
        9.) L.Grove, ’31 – 219
        10.) P.Martinez, ’97 – 219
        11.) K.Brown, ’96 – 216
        12.) R.Clemens, ’90 – 213
        13.) P.Martinez, ’03 – 210
        14.) R.Guidry, ’78 – 208
        15.) P.Martinez, ’02 – 202

        In a seven year span, Pedro Martinez had FIVE OF THE BEST FIFTEEN seasons in the history of baseball as we know it. (With the other two seasons mixed in, his year by year ERA+ is 219, 163, 243, 291, 189, 202, 210. Yeesh.)

        In 2000 he was almost THREE TIMES AS GOOD as the league average.

        Great googily moogily.

        http://www.baseball-reference......ason.shtml

  2. dan says:

    He is the best pitcher of all time, and I will argue with anyone saying otherwise. Video games don’t even let you make guys that good.

  3. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Fuck Pedro. He was a dity-playing, head-hunting little bitch.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

      and we has dirt too. Not sure what kind of dity he was known for.

    • Manimal says:

      Nuff said.

      • Whitey14 says:

        Nice try Andy, but he’s hit just one batter in the head in 17 years.
        He’s hit the same number of batters in his career, 137, as the second best pitcher of his era Greg Maddux. He hit a career high 16 batters in 2004 which rates that season as tied for 209th most ever in a season by a pitcher, along with 65 other guys.

        Plain and simply, he was a pitcher who knew how to pitch inside and also knew when it was necessary to brush back, or even intentionally hit a batter. If you hit one of ours you could be damn sure he was going to hit one of yours. He was just smarter than most pitchers and struck first, knowing the guy who retaliates typically looks like a douchebag to the uneducated fan. If he had been traded to New York instead of Boston, you’d be clamoring for him to get a monument.

        • Travis G. says:

          Nice try Whitey. not to go into a long thing – Maddux has thrown 5000 innings. Pedro: 2750. what you failed to mention is that Maddux began his career 7 years earlier.

          what you really have to do is see who’s hit the most batters since Pedro began. in that case, the top 3 are RJ, Wakefield and Pedro. but RJ has 650 more ip, and Wakefield (as you know) has no clue where the ball is going.

          • Whitey14 says:

            Sorry for the poor comparison, but my main pont was that it’s ignorant to call a pitcher a head hunter when he’s only hit one batter in the head in 17 years.
            The equivalent may be calling somebody a horrible driver because they had one accident in 17 years when in fact that’s a pretty decent record.

            • Travis G. says:

              well, imo the term ‘head hunter’ doesn’t specifically mean a pitcher that hits players in the head, but goes up and in a lot (with a lot of HBP in the arms, hands, back, etc). iirc, the game when he hit Soriano and DJ were both up and in pitches that might’ve hit them in the head – but they were able to pull their head away (and hence their hands were put into harm’s way, sending them from the game).

              just bc someone’s been in one accident in 17 years doesn’t inherently mean they’re not a bad driver.

              • Whitey14 says:

                I also recall the instance you mention, but I seem to remember him going right in on their hands, which he always did with Jeter in particular, and not up at their heads. We all know that if Pedro had wanted to hit guys in the head, he could have.

                Folks will argue it whichever way they choose as is their right. They’ll remember things they way they chose to see them in the moment. I still maintain, if he’d have played for the Yankees, most Yankees fans would be clamoring for a monument, which means many fans (of all teams) only view the game through their team-colored glasses, instead of trying to view things without a bias.
                I think Ben showed some cajones to write the piece and it’s unfortunate that people instead wanted to try and shit on Pedro for a few instances in his career where he may have been less than the model citizen instead of just agreeing that he was a craftsman on the mound and truly one of the greats of his era. It became all about discrediting him because he played for Boston and the Mets.

  4. Peedlum says:

    Watching those great 90′s Yankee teams beat some of the best pitchers of all time in the playoffs and some guys at the peak of their dominance was a treat–Off the top of my head Pedro, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Hoffman, Mussina (as on Oriole), Kevin Brown. Randy Johnson always got the best of them though. And we all know about Curt Schilling.

    On a side note, I was in Boston for the Sunday game of the 5 game Fenway sweep in 2006 with my buddy who’s a sux fan, and he took me to Curt Schilling’s house (which apparently used to be Drew Bledsoe’s house) and despite the fact that it was night and raining, there was a large American flag hanging over the driveway–Not in a patriotic way (no spotlight, inclement weather, not on a flagpole), but in a we’re rednecks with automatic weapons kind of way.

  5. james says:

    “will always be a part of the years of Yankee dominance. He was the best pitcher in the league during the years when the Yanks were the best in the biz, and he couldn’t do anything about it.”

    He was also there when everything changed (2004).

    “Fuck Pedro. He was a dity-playing, head-hunting little bitch.”

    Clemens, Joba, glass houses.

  6. nick blasioli says:

    good riddence……

  7. Frank says:

    Both sides of the story here are true.

    He’s going to go down as one of the most dominant pitchers in history. Period.

    But he was one of the most despicable players both on and off the field. I know I would be biased b/c I’m a Yankees fan, but that’s just what I’ve seen from him, both on the field and in interviews I’ve seen.

    • Ben K. says:

      How exactly was Pedro despicable on and off the field? He was never associated with steroids. So he liked to goof around in the dugout. Big deal.

      On the field, he supposedly threw at people. So did Clemens. So has, as was rightly pointed out, Joba (think Kevin Youkilis). So have hundreds of successful pitchers throughout baseball. It’s part of the game. That’s just a line that people who are trying to find reasons to hate him use. I don’t particularly buy it.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

        I could care less about it, but I’m sure a lot of people don’t like the cock fighting that he is involved in.

        • Colombo says:

          while I am a die hard yankee fan, and i will always regard pedro as a red sock, i have to stick up for the man. he wasn’t involved in cock fighting, he attended a cock fight. and he did so in the Dominican Republic, where it is insanely popular and, more importantly, 100% legal.

      • JeffG says:

        Him grabbing Zimmer by the head and throwing him down was a little much.

        • ceciguante says:

          thank you.
          also, i recall that pedro was #1 all time, by a long stretch, in hit batters per 9.

          lionize the guy if you want, but there’s plenty of things to find despicable about him. i think he’s a punk.

          • While I’m not going to take the time to sit down and make a list, you could probably fill Congress with all the players who have done something either on or off the field that’s more “despicable” than anything Pedro’s done. I never heard of Pedro abusing drugs, beating his wife, refusing autographs, etc. etc. What did he do?

            He hit people with the baseball. That’s what pitchers do. Go back and look at Ben’s link to BR.com, it’s filled with the finest pitchers to play the game.

            He threw down Don Zimmer? Um, maybe I’m misremembering, but wasn’t Don Zimmer charging at Pedro? Takes two to tango, people. If lovable fat old men don’t want to be embarrassed in public, they shouldn’t enter into fights with professional athletes who are 80 years younger than them.

            What am I missing?

      • Frank says:

        It wasn’t just the hit batsmen. It was his attitude. The way he went after guys. Think when Shef stepped out and got beamed on the next pitch. He was a prick. Like Manny except without the goofiness that make people love him.
        I saw an interview of him that completely turned me off. I can’t cite the specific example, but it’s my opinion.

        • Frank says:

          It just didn’t seem to me like he cared about anyone but himself.

          Perhaps despicable was the wrong word, since he never did steroids or anything that we know of. It’s just the word I think of when I think about his attitude. Again it was the impression I got through interviews and his actions on the field.

          To be fair, I’d lump him right in with Clemens as far as attitude. They’re both assholes. They were both great pitchers but dirty ones… for one reason or another.

          And don’t give me that nonsense about Don Zimmer. The sidestep would have been sufficient, thank you. No need to put your hands on an old man.

  8. Batty says:

    Now, Pedro will probably get a decent enough contract offer for next year. He’ll be 37 come opening day, and this year’s troubles could be attributed to his rebounding from arm surgery.

    Sounds like a Cash pickup in the making…

  9. Wayne's World says:

    This is a lovely piece…it speaks to why I’m a passionate, life-long Yankee fan who has actually come to like the Red Sox…when the Yanks are on their game, it’s fun to see them play such a good, colorful, challenging team. It’s not a matter of life and death….the other team doesn’t suck…it’s what great baseball is all about. How can one really hate the likes of Pedro Martinez in his prime? Seeing Pedro pitch was much more fun than beating the lights out of some journeyman pitcher….

  10. jsbrendog says:

    seeing pedro martinez was magic. his ball moved in ways that noe one else’s has since (volquez reminds me of him a bit with the crazy movement on his stuff, that kid is fun to watch pitch). pedro was one of the greatest, if not the greates based on the era he did it in, pitchers of all time and I for one am happy and feel priviledged i got to see him multiple times a year against the yankees.

    Who cares if he fights cocks (o:-)>) throws at people’s heads (bob gibson hit people just because they got to close to “his” plate, so frickin what?) or whatever the hell else he did. He was AMAZING to watch and we should all feel priviledged to have been able to be alive and watch pedro in his prime, nolan ryan beat up robin ventura, and jim abbot throw a no hitter.

    baseball is awesome and no matter what team you root for if you really love baseball watching guys like pedro in his prime, vlad when he was on the expos, or larry walker hit, or albert pujols do anything is what you love to see.

    • I’m jsbrendog, and I approved this message.

      • jsbrendog says:

        hahaha, if i could figure out a way to give a thumbs up, i would. vote brendog 09. Why? cause I’m not them.

        ps, jim abbots no hitter was on msg this weekend and i watched it again all the way through and three things crossed my mind

        1) he only has one hand

        2) matt nokes was god awful, and i mean that bad

        3) jim abbot only has one…..hand……

  11. Glen L says:

    People are giving pedro flack for throwing at batters? Seriously?? Its baseball, grow up you sissies

    And I’d love to see what any of you would have done had Don Zimmer charged at you with the apparent intent to harm you

    Pedro was the best pitcher I’ve ever seen, my old man tells me he’s the best he has ever seen too, over koufax, gibson, seaver, anyone

  12. Pedro says:

    Somebody should try Pedro as their closer, kinda like a Smoltz tipe conversion.

    • jsbrendog says:

      interesting suggestion…..but he can’t get it up over 86 these days…maybe he should learn to pitch like jamie moyer……or mike mussina?

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