"I'm pretty sure my name will be mentioned,” Martinez said of his legacy before his Game 6 start against the Yankees in the World Series. “I don't know in which way. But maybe after I retire, because normally when you die, people tend to actually give you props about the good things. But that's after you die. So I'm hoping to get it before I die. I don't want to die and hear everybody say, 'Oh, there goes one of the best players ever.' If you're going to give me props, just give them to me right now."
He deserves them.
Forget about the way he left Boston on less-than-heroic terms, after some contentious contract negotiations. Baseball is a business, and that aspect of the game can muddy the waters and paint a picture of a player that might not be entirely accurate or that overshadows what he did on the field.
When it comes to free-agent contract negotiations, each side has a job to do. The agent and player are looking to get the best deal possible in terms of dollars and years. The team is looking to spend the least money it can to retain a player, while protecting its investment and limiting future risk. Sometimes, an agreement can be reached. Other times, the whole thing blows up.
Pedro’s departure rubbed some people the wrong way. But that should not discredit what he meant to the Red Sox or take away from what he is doing with the Phillies.
The veteran right-hander has reinvented himself.
His heater no longer gives off as much heat as it once did, but he still controls the strike zone like a lion patrols the jungle. He can still strike fear into opposing hitters. Instead of winning through intimidation, he’s found success through guile, deception and smarts. His motto has gone from “I dare you to hit this” to “Now you see it, now you don’t.”
Pedro has become a magician on the mound. His fastball is his setup pitch, and he keeps hitters off balance and guessing with a dizzying array of curves and changeups that defy physics. By changing speeds and moving the ball in and out, up and down, he can make the best hitters in the world look like cartoon characters swinging at air.
Pedro’s still got it. He remains Picasso with a paintbrush, Stravinsky with a violin, Scorcese with a camera. He’s the maestro, the conductor, the star.
Watching him pitch now in the sunset of his career is like watching a sunset. It inspires awe and wonder. If you don’t find yourself saying, “How’d he do that?” at least once over the course of a start these days, you’re not paying attention.
When the 38-year-old Dominican stands on the hill, it’s still must-see theater. He commands the moment like few players ever have or ever will again.
Pedro is one of a kind. He’s an endangered species.
He knows how to pitch as well as anyone who’s ever thrown a ball 60 feet, 6 inches, and will be remembered as one of the most compelling figures in sports off the field when he decides to hang up his spikes.
He appreciates having the opportunity to be in the spotlight again.
We should appreciate having him.
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