“What can I say? I tip my hat and call the Yankees my Daddy.”
The greatest pitcher, at his peak, in the history of baseball, said this after yet another frustrating outing against the vaunted New York Yankees. And Pedro hasn’t had much redemption on a personal level since, he hasn’t had many chances. Because while Wins and Losses don’t mean much when evaluating a pitchers true performance. I am almost positive they matter on a personal level. I have a difficult time believing that a pitcher doesn’t enjoy earning a “W” next to his name, rather than a “no decision (ND),” or even worse, a “Loss.” And Pedro has beaten the New York Yankees only once since that emotion-rattling 2004 season. A 2-0 victory on April 25, 2004 was the last time that he (Pedro) walked off the mound victorious as a member of the Red Sox against the team that he personally declared to be his “Daddy” (But winning once as a member of the Mets).
We all know how that 2004 season played out. The Red Sox had the last laugh and Pedro had the ultimate revenge. Yet he never actually earned a “W” against them after he spit out the quote mentioned above, even though they won game 5 with him the starting pitcher that day. And a World Series title means more than one win, no matter who the team is. But on a small personal level, I have a strong feeling that Pedro really wants to beat those same Yankees. And he gets another shot at it tonight. With diminished velocity and an injury seemingly lingering just around the corner with every pitch, he GETS HIS CHANCE…again.
Pedro has had three chances to redeem himself on a personal level since he joined the New York Mets. In 2005, Pedro pitched seven strong, giving up one earned, allowing five baserunners, and watching six Yankee hitters walk back to the dugout with their heads down. But the Mets lost the game. Later that season, Pedro finally earned a win against his biggest personal rival (on the baseball field): Eight innings, eight runners occupying a base, and three K’s (not particularly impressive in the strikeout category). But the Mets beat the Yankees. And Pedro finally received some closure. In 2006, the Yankees beat the Mets…again. But Pedro was as good as he had been against the Yankees in a long time. Not 17 K, one-hit good. But good regardless: 7 innings, 4 hits, 1BB, and 8 K’s. Oh, and ZERO runs, zero earned, and zero unearned. But the Yankees rallied, off the good, but overrated Billy Wagner, to scored four in the ninth, and 1 more in the eleventh to earn a victory.
But Pedro has been pretty close to idle the past year and a half, making five appearences in 2007, and five more in 2008. So he hasn’t had a chance to face them in a while. I am sure that his emotions will be stirring a little. He may end up saying that it is “Just another game.” But it isn’t. This was his greatest rival for many years, and he had some incidents against them. I think that it is safe to say that, Martinez and the Yankees have a “history.”
But one thing that I kind of enjoy is the notion that Pedro hasn’t fared well against the New York Yankees. Some want to remember what happened the last few seasons in Boston, when Pedro was very good, but not incredible as he was before. In 31 career starts against the Yanks, Pedro has a 3.03 ERA in the regular season. In 211 innings he has wiffed 257 Yankee hitters, while walking only 58. Pedro has a WHIP of 1.00. That is completely dominant. This is not only the most successful franchise in the history of the sport, but is also the most successful of the past 12 seasons as well, seasons in which Pedro has taken the mound against them. The fact is, Pedro Martinez has actually been the Yankees’ “Daddy.” The Red Sox haven’t, but Pedro has. He is only 11-10 against them, but those aforementioned numbers tell us how he has actually performed, and that is simply GREAT.
Memories are stronger the later something occurs, or closer to the present. Some fail to remember what he was, and what he did the majority of his career against the Yankees. So remember 2004, if you wish. But 1999 happened too.
And Pedro takes the mound, against the Yankees tonight. He may get shelled, he may not. But it is Pedro against the Yankees, and I will be watching.