Pedro Martinez killed it.
Martinez danced his way to the podium, delivered an all-time speech, captivated the audience and entertained the masses Sunday at the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.
One could say it was “Pedro being Pedro.”
No disrespect to Craig Biggio, John Smoltz or Randy Johnson — three fine gentlemen who provided their own highlights Sunday — but Martinez stole the show, just like he did amid a cast of superstars at the 1999 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Fenway Park.
Pedro is, was and always will be a showstopper. The other guys made for a nice undercard, sure. But Pedro was the main event Sunday.
Everyone there knew it. Everyone at home knew it. Everyone tweeting until their fingers bled knew it.
Even Biggio, who gave the first speech of the afternoon, knew it, as he implored the Houston Astros fans in attendance to make noise, with the disclaimer: “Pedro’s going to give you a run for your money.”
Forget that. The main eventer scored a first-round knockout before he ever said a word.
It might have been the suit.
It might have been the goofy fist pump.
Big Unit bunny ears, maybe?
Heck, we’ll just say it was a combination of everything that had the crowd eating out of the palm of Pedro’s hand. That OK with you, wig-wearing John Smoltz? Rock on!
Few athletes — or humans in general, really — have Pedro’s ability to work a room. And I use “room” as an all-encompassing term.
He could toe a mound at Yankee Stadium in front of 60,000 people screaming, “Who’s your daddy?”
He could threaten to drill a dead guy in the ass with a fastball because reporters won’t shut up with questions about curses and other non-existent things that aim to evoke some heebie-jeebies.
He could joke and laugh with a Dominican actor dubbed the Red Sox’s “lucky charm” in large — pun very much intended — because of the man’s small, 2-foot-4 stature.
He could articulate the finer points of pitching.
Or, in the case of Sunday’s ceremony, he could stand in front some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen and somehow manage to grab everyone’s attention.
Regardless of the situation, the spotlight follows Pedro — not the other way around — and he has an uncanny knack for delivering the goods.
He’s the class clown, the jock, the rebel, the valedictorian and the sentimental drama geek all wrapped in one. You could hate the guy, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
Look, is Pedro perfect? No, despite all you’ve just read and all you might hear from his Dominican flag-waving supporters in Cooperstown. But he doesn’t claim to be. For all of his admirable qualities, his imperfections are just as much a part of who he is and why he’s so fascinating.
There have been blow-ups. There have been disputes. There have been times when he’s crossed the fine line separating confident and cocky, and other times when he’s seemed downright arrogant.
But like Vince Vaughn said in “Wedding Crashers,” “I’m not perfect. But who are we kidding? Neither are you. And you want to know what? I dig it.”
Pedro seemed anything but human on the field during his playing days, when he posted otherworldly numbers in what his Hall of Fame plaque conveniently describes as “an era of high octane offense.” But off the field, he’s always carried himself with a distinct charm and a realistic sense of self-worth.
At a time when so many other athletes, past and present, try to lock the doors to their true identities, Pedro continues to open his world to outsiders, even if it means exposing the bad with the good.
That “take me or leave me” ultimatum is the whole deal with Pedro. It’s genuine. And with genuineness often comes approval, evident by Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, when the greatest pitcher of the modern era simultaneously tugged on heartstrings and hurt stomachs with laughter.
I’d ask you, “are you not entertained?” But I already know the answer.
Thumbnail photo via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images