[editor's note, by Randy Booth] This article is courtesy of Ryan Brodeur, author of the Red Sox blog The Hot Corner. Thanks, Ryan!
Once every long while in baseball there comes along a personality so great that it swallows up all those that encounter it, and even change the way The Game is viewed by it's fans. Across the decades baseball fans young and old can recall the childish energy of Ted Williams ("Christ, Ced, it's great to be young and full of vinegar." "Sure, Ted, but not at six o'clock in the morning."), the collected majesty of Joe DiMaggio, the enigmatic grace of Sandy Koufax, and the dirt-covered face and reputation of Pete Rose. The stories are forever young and the truths ever-burgeoning, but regardless of accuracy or proximity, the magic of these rare individuals becomes one of the many facets used to characterize The Game.
Pedro Jaime Martinez is one such personality. From the now famous shade of his mango tree in Manoguayabo, Dominican Republic, to the autumn obsession of Boston, and now the obscurity of celebrity on the Biggest Stage On Earth, this slight-framed pitcher has woven his way into the hearts and minds of baseball fans everywhere.
It was in Boston that Pedro made his most enduring mark, where he polished his legend with Koufaxian performances in an era renowned for it's affinity for the home run. A fastball that singed the very air through which it passed and a changeup that waded through what seemed like an eternity of minutes to arrive at home plate allowed Pedro to make lineups of All-Stars seem like bushers up for their first cup of coffee. It was also in Boston that Martinez stamped out his reputation as a head-hunter, an unimposing man unafraid of the largest of bashers, his fastball certainly more lethal than any home run they could hit. It was there, inside the well-worn walls of the clubhouse that Pedro spoke at times without any regard for logic or timeliness, where up was sometimes down and white was sometimes black, but Pedro was always Pedro and seemed forever a Red Sox.
He's a Metropolitan now.
After his part in the 2004 World Series run, Pedro was one of several long-term members of the Sox to depart for greener pastures, choosing the four-year contract of Queens over the smaller deal in the Fens. Safe in the National League and presented with unfamiliar lineups, Pedro reasserted his dominance by winning 15 games and posting a 2.82 ERA for New York's JV team. Comments by the ace after his signing led to bitterness in The Hub, but as time went on and the distance became greater, It's fans began to bury the hard feelings and remember him as one of their own.
This Wednesday, Pedro will return to that lyrical little bandbox swathed in orange and royal blue in an attempt to show the ownership that had (ahem) disrespected him what they had passed up. Many of the media moguls in Boston feel that the fans at the park on Wednesday should shower Pedro with boos and jeers in an attempt to shame him into submission. Such a reaction would be wholly unjustified, and would do nothing but reflect poorly upon the city and it's team.
Williams, DiMaggio, Koufax were part of one team from the beginning until the very end, and even Rose was completely Cincinnati, despite a brief stint north of the border. Unlike the players that reside in our sepia-toned memories today's ballplayers have the ability to seek their fortune wherever it may lead them. Rare is the player who remains in one place for more than a handful of years. Fans now have little choice but to cheer them while they have them and lament them when they're gone. Sure, Pedro broke our hearts, but he also lent the Red Sox an aura of legitimacy and weight in an area that had been devoid of such clout since the Rocket departed. This is not to say that the Red Sox should roll over in reverence to Pedro's majesty, but in no way should Pedro be booed in the way Johnny Damon was. Pedro never came out on the record against signing with the Yankees and then signed with them.
When #45 first takes the hill on Wednesday night, every fan should be standing and applauding the body of work that Pedro Martinez compiled during his time in Boston. They should cheer because they had the chance to witness one of the greatest pitchers of all time in his prime, and for that they should be grateful.
And when a current Red Sox connects for the first base hit of the Olde Towne Team the fans should cheer once more, because the Red Sox, with or without Pedro Martinez, are here to stay.