As I begin typing this blog entry, the first pitch is 10 hours and 40 minutes away.
38-year-old Pedro Martinez . . . on the mound . . . in the Bronx . . . trying to prevent the New York Yankees from winning their 27th World Series title.
Talk about Must See TV!
Pedro held a news conference on Tuesday that was riveting (you can watch it here) as he discussed the opportunity to add to his Hall of Fame resume.
“I look at this situation as a blessing,” Pedro told reporters. “I mean, what else would I want? I’m doing the job I love. I’m doing something that not everybody gets to do. If you consider the fact that a few months back I was sitting at home not doing anything — none of you were thinking of me whatsoever, none of you were asking me questions — and today I am here, getting ready to pitch in probably one of the biggest games ever in World Series history.”
Pedro pitched well in Game 2 with a repertoire that probably reminded PawSox fans of Abe Alvarez – slow, slower, and slowest. In the first inning, he threw 70 mph curveballs and 78 mph changeups. In his six-plus innings, his fastball topped out around 86 mph.
It’s certainly not the Pedro that won three Cy Young Awards, but he’s been extremely effective since signing with the Phillies on July 15th for $1 million. In 9 regular season starts, Martinez was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA. In 2 postseason starts, he’s 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
“I think what you’re going to see is something close to what you saw the last time out, because the last couple of times he’s pitched he’s been very consistent,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Tuesday. “He’s had tremendous command. He has tremendous feel. He knows how to pitch. He knows more about hitters than probably people give him credit for, because he’ll sit there and study the game and he’ll study the hitters. But also he still has talent. When he executes his pitches as a pitcher should, he’s definitely capable of throwing a very good ballgame. I’d look for him to definitely put us in a place where we can win the game.”
Pedro has an all-time postseason record of 6-3, but all three losses have been to the Yankees – he’s 1-3 with a 4.69 ERA vs. New York and hasn’t won a playoff start against the Yanks since 1999.
Those numbers bring to mind his famous quote during the pennant race of 2004:
“I can’t find a way to beat them at this point,” Pedro said at the time. “You have to give them credit. They didn’t beat my team. They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot. I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.”
That’s why a sold-out Yankee Stadium will serenade him with “Who’s your daddy?” chants tonight. But Pedro knows that he’ll have Red Sox Nation rooting for him.
“I know that they don’t like the Yankees to win, not even in Nintendo games,” Martinez said. “And knowing that I am part of Boston, I consider myself a Bostonian, as well, too, I’ve been a Montrealer, a Bostonian, and now a New Yorker, and somehow I might become a Philadelphian now. But I’ve only been there for a short period. It’s something that’s a work in progress, and 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.”
He’ll certainly have our undivided attention tonight.
The first pitch is now 9 hours and 50 minutes away.