October 30, 2009
NEW YORK — The crowd at Yankee Stadium was booing like only the Bronx can, but Pedro Martinez(notes) walked off the field with his head high. As he neared the Phillies' dugout, the 38-year-old pitcher looked down, then quickly looked up. He broke out into a smile, drank in the scene for an extended moment and then disappeared down the steps.
It's not every day that you see a pitcher grinning while still on the hook for a World Series loss. Then again, we haven't seen many pitchers like Pedro, who added another great chapter to his memorable career in Thursday night's 3-1 Game 2 loss to the Yankees.
Despite battling a cold, the self-described old goat kept the Phillies in the game by striking out eight batters over six innings. Martinez gave up a total of three earned runs — including solo shots to Mark Teixeira(notes) and Hideki Matsui(notes) — before departing with no outs in the seventh. It wasn't his greatest outing, but with just a little more offense from his teammates, a good start would have been validated with a victory.
Instead, Martinez's consolation prize was showing his old friends at Yankee Stadium that he can still get people out and then skewer them a bit through the media. The great rivalry between the righty and Yankees fan is alive and well.
To prove it, here's a selection of Pedro's best quotes from his big night in the Big Apple:
• "I remember one guy sitting right in the front row ... with his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, 'Your daughter is right beside you. It's a little girl. It's a shame you're saying all these things.' I had to stop and tell him because I'm a father myself, and God, how can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?"
• "But the fans, I enjoy that, because at the bottom, I know I played for the Mets. I know they really want to root for me. It's just that I don't play for the Yankees, that's all. I've always been a good competitor and they love that. They love the fact that I compete. I'm a New Yorker as well. If I was on the Yankees, I'd probably be like a king over here."
• "I wasn't going to give anybody the opportunity to take me out, regardless of how much I coughed and how much my chest hurt and sore throat or whatever. It doesn't matter. I was going to take this start, because there was something I had in mind when I first chose that team. It was to pitch a game in the World Series ... I got it. I can finally say I got it."
When asked by a reporter, Pedro said he wasn't sure about retirement just yet, but he strongly hinted it might be dependent on if the Phillies win the World Series this season. Considering that he might still get the Game 6 start, he could have a direct hand in that.
And should he decide to hang them up, I can only hope that he'll end up in broadcasting sooner rather than later. At this late point in his career, Pedro has evolved into a player who knows that the game is supposed to be entertaining and that there's nothing more entertaining than a good rivalry. Baseball would be a lesser place without him needling New Yorkers and hopefully NESN or WEEI will recognize that and give him a job.