tclakin

Daddy’s Home.

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Pedro Martinez will be back where he belongs tonight:

On the mound, with the ball in his hand, in Yankee Stadium.

Sure, a few things have changed since the last time our Old Friend was in this position. He’s a lot older now, for one. He relies more on guile and precision these days, topping out at 91-92 mph on a good night. And Yankee Stadium looks a little different than it used to. It’s a little flashier, a lot newer, and there are empty seats everywhere.

But the general idea is still the same:

Pedro wants to win. Yankees fans desperately want him to lose.

Whether Martinez wants to win because he loves the Phillies or because he hates New York, however, isn’t totally clear. I tend to think he still has the best interests of Red Sox fans in mind:

““It wouldn’t surprise me at all,’’ Martinez said yesterday, when he was reminded that Sox fans are rooting for him. “I know they don’t like the Yankees to win, not even in Nintendo games. And knowing that I am part of Boston, I consider myself a Bostonian . . . I’m pretty sure that every Boston fan out there can feel proud that I’m going to try to beat the Yankees, and I’m going to give just the same effort I always did for them. They’re special fans, and they will always have my respect.’’

Doesn’t that sound like a guy who might be wearing the old gray No. 45 under his Phillies jersey?

It begs the question – why exactly wasn’t Pedro pitching for the Red Sox this season?

Theo Epstein rolled the dice with plenty of aging reclamation projects last winter. First there was Brad Penny – that didn’t work out. Then there was John Smoltz – hell, he’s 42! Would it have killed Theo to give 38-year-old Pedro a second shot at Boston glory?

I understand baseball is a ruthless business, but is there really zero room for good memories? Not even for karma’s sake?

But bringing back Pedro wouldn’t have been merely a nostalgia move. As we’ve seen this postseason, the guy can still pitch. He’s just more crafty today, unable to rely on upper-90’s heat. But the talent, the swagger, the unavoidable gift is still there. Sure, he’s been injured a lot, but that never stopped him before. Remember the ’99 ALDS against the Indians when an ailing Pedro shook off a back injury and threw six hitless relief innings, striking out 8 and walking 3? That game told us all we needed to know about whether an aging Martinez could still be effective. He was hard-pressed to hit 90 mph that night. But his brilliant performance served as the perfect blueprint for the pitching style he would have to adopt later in his career – a clever, artful technique based largely off his extensive knowledge of the game.

And he’s done it. He’ll do it again tonight.

But that’s neither here nor there now.

Pedro Martinez belongs to Philadelphia now, and tonight he’s hoping to help them towards their second World Series title in two years.

But, by acknowledging us, his old loyal fans, he’s also given Red Sox Nation a little more of a stake in tonight’s Game 6 in the Bronx.

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