October 28, 2009
Game 1 of the World Series has yet to arrive, but leave it to Pedro Martinez(notes) to shift a little of the focus to Game 2 as only he can. In the pregame press conference designed to give writers advance quotes for their previews, the Phillies pitcher went on an extended riff on his contentious relationship with the New York media over the years.
Here's a portion what he said, straight from the transcript:
"I think in every aspect, the way you guys have used me and abused me since I've been coming to Dodger Stadium (sic), just because I wore actually a red uniform just like this one while playing for Boston, it's been like — I remember quotes in the paper, 'Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.' Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things.
"There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That's a sign of the devil. I'm a Christian man. I don't like those things. I take those things very serious.
"Those are the kind of things that the fans actually get used to seeing, and actually sometimes influence those people to believe that you are a bad person, that you are like an ogre. I see Mariano (Rivera), and that's probably the player I admire the most because of how he goes about his business, how he does it, and he remains a humble Christian man admired by everyone in baseball.
"The way people perceive me in New York, I don't know if they got to know me a little bit better after I got to the Mets. It's totally different than the way I am; I just compete. And yes, I will do whatever it takes to beat you. But I'm a human being after I take my clothes off. A lot of people can witness that any time, anywhere, any moment."
I'll pass on Pedro's invitation to watch him undress, but you can understand a bit where he's coming from. No one wants to be called the devil.
Of course, he's also the pitcher who prefaced the comments above by saying that he "might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium," so you can't say that he also doesn't bring a lot of it on himself.
Whatever the case, the comments should make for better newspaper previews that we're used to. Let's just get Game 1 out of the way first.