Do we openly root for the man who was once the very best pitcher in the world?
Do we silently pull for the jeri-curled Phillie because those same locks helped save us all in 2004?
Do we secretly smile when he wins, or wince when he fails, while wearing the red pinstripes because he beat the navy pinstripes so often?
Do we ignore him, because divas crave attention, and he was the biggest diva to grace Fenway’s stage?
Do we root against him because the guy had a penchant for throwing gerbil-like elderly men to the ground by their heads, or maybe should have taken himself out of the cursed Grady game?
Do we even care? After all, he’s just not one of our boys anymore and hasn’t been since he took the money and ran to New York.
Well, I, for one, am pulling for the man from Manoguayabo. With his brother, Ramon, foreshadowing what he would become — a testament to the fact that the Martinez brothers only had so many bullets in the powerful arms on their slight frames — Pedro still pitched. He offered the very best of those bullets for us during what would otherwise be an insignificant period in Red Sox baseball.
He created moments when there would not have been any. He gave us the ’99 All-Star Game, the relief stint against the playoff Indians, a fight or two at the Trop and a warning to Babe Ruth’s arse. He brought Dominican flags and electricity to the stands and forced us to cross-reference our game tickets with the calendar to see if we timed it right.
He gave us personality, the Idiot before the rest of the team followed suit. The man allowed himself to be taped to a pole for comedy’s sake. He turned giant glow-in-the-dark gloves and a Gatorade container into the instrument of a rally cry. He brought us Nelson, the world’s smallest Red Sox fan. And when he was on the mound, the buffoonery was dispelled by intimidation, and you were glad your team didn’t have to deal with it.
At the very least, it will be interesting to see what he has left for these playoffs. I wish him well, no matter what uniform he wears, because his very best came while wearing ours.
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