Later tonight, the Yankees and Phillies will take to the field in the Bronx for Game 6 of what has been a very compelling World Series. Tonight’s game will pit Andy Pettitte and his 17 postseason victories against a reinvented Pedro Martinez. During the regular season, these two pitchers have faced each other six times, and the Yankees were 4-2 in those games.
For the Yankees, this will be their second crack against Pedro, and tomorrow’s game should be a bit more serious than the Game 2 pitcher’s duel. During Game 2, the crowd soaked up Pedro Martinez, and Pedro Martinez soaked up the crowd. Chants of “Who’s your daddy?” rang through Yankee Stadium from the first pitch to the last, and as Pedro left the mound, he smirked at adoration from the crowd.
After the game, Pedro’s press conference featured Pedro being Pedro. He talked at length about his relationship with the Yankees and New York. “If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here,” he said after Game 2. “I know they really want to root for me. It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees. I’ve always been a good competitor and they love that. They love the fact that I compete.”
In addition to these hyperbolic comments, Pedro gave his thoughts on New York parenting. Although FOX replays showed no words coming out of Pedro, the Phillies’ right-hander claims he was shocked at the words spewed forth from the stands. “It’s a new Yankee Stadium, but the fans remain the fans,” Pedro said during a rambling post-game press conference. “I remember one guy sitting right in front, in the front row, with his daughter. He had his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. 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 kinds of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?”
Pedro didn’t stop to tell anyone anything. Instead, he embellished to seem more like an entertainer than a pitcher. We go to the park to see Pedro pitch, win, lose or draw, he thinks.
That has to end tomorrow. As 7:57 p.m. rolls around, Yankee fans can’t let Pedro enjoy himself on the mound. He is expecting a world of “Who’s your daddy?” and he is expecting to be half-loved and half-jeered. Let’s give him a proper Bronx jeer. Let’s just boo and boo and boo. The love-hate relationship should disappear into the meaning of Game 6, and we should remember the Pedro who went head-hunting against Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, not the Pedro who wishes he could have been a Yankee.
Nearly 11 months ago, I called upon the Yankees to sign Pedro Martinez. At the time, I judged it to be a low-risk, high-reward signing that would have given the Yanks a veteran arm mid-way through the season. Now, with the World Series in the balance, the Yankees will face off against Pedro Martinez. Once, we might have wanted Pedro Martinez. Tonight, we want to beat him. Let’s do it — and show him New York’s tough love. No one deserves it more.