Pedro Martinez: The Steroid Era's Best Pitcher
[First post. I'm pretty sure I'll get better, thanks for reading]
Dear Fellow BR Readers:
Since we are all caught up in the steroid soap opera of baseball—and it's fairy tale stories about going overseas and buying mysterious products—I want to discuss a very sensitive subject; a subject that will probably be disputed among us; a topic that will fill up the comment boxes at the bottom of this page.
That topic is, who is the pitcher whom best succeeded during the heart of baseball's steroid era?
I'm not talking about the early 1980s, when people around baseball began whispering about a few players coming into Spring Training with hulking frames, but rather when it was going undiscussed, taking over the game so much that it was almost expected for the size of players to nearly double in some instances.
Although this player was around when the whispers started, he would not become a household name until the times of home run chases and rises in explosive stats throughout the game.
I am talking about Pedro Jaime Martinez—signed in 1988 and rising to dominance by 1998—of the Dominican Republic. The same Pedro who threw a old man on the ground—but when Manny does it, it's a bad thing, right? Did anyone find the irony of that besides me?
Anyway, from 1998 to 2004, Martinez became a sports icon, a pitching legend, and a soon-to-be first-ballot Hall of Famer who will don a Red Sox hat on his historical day at Cooperstown—I hate the last part.
But as a fellow Dominican, I couldn't be any happier, or full of any more pride, about the success of Pedro.
Pedro symbolizes hope for those pitchers who are deemed as being too short or lacking too much velocity to make it to the big leagues, much less face the like of an Alex Rodriguez. He showed us how to be effective without lighting up a radar gun.
And he did all of this while playing in the toughest division in all of MLB.
I mean, look at his stats against the biggest steroid users in the game:
Juan Gonzalez (1998-2003) : 18 AB, 4 HITS, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 SO, .222 BA.
Jose Canseco (1998-2000) : 24 AB. 3 HITS, 1 HR, 2 RBIS, 1 BB, 10 SO, .125 BA.
Alex Rodriguez ( 1998-2004) : 58 AB, 17 HITS, 1 HR, 4 RBIS, 20 SO, .293 BA.
Jason Giambi : ( 1998- 004) : 56 AB, 10 HITS, 3 HR, 7 RBIS, 25 SO, .171 BA.
Pedro has always been consistent with his weight, with his performance, and with his passion for the game. Who can forget the six innings of no-hit ball against the Indians in 1998? Relying completely on his curveball, he managed to neutralized the Indians and win it for the Sox.
Yes, I know he didn't face Canseco or Juan Gone much, but from '98-'03, it's a decent amount of at-bats.
Yes, I also know I didn't include his numbers against Pudge, Palmeiro, and others. Feel free to look up stats to compare and post if you see any weird numbers against him.
You mean to tell me this is the same guy who Tommy Lasorda snubbed as an ineffective pitcher and traded to the Expos for Delino Deshields? It seems that next to winning the World Series Championship in 2004, this may be the best thing to happen to Pedro's career.
While those aforementioned guys had stellar years, they always stumbled when Pedro was on the mound.
Now, to be fair, there are still 103 names that have yet to be released to the public. But if Pedro isn't on that list, and other great batters who struggled against Pedro are, then it's fair to say the list may just further solidify his status as one of the all-time greats.
Bud Selig—or maybe we should call him The Tamer of Steroid Users, The Knight in Shining Armor for Baseball—looked for Alex Rodriguez to save baseball, and he didn't. Maybe it's time for Selig to turn to Pedro and thank him for silently becoming one of the game's top three pitchers, staying clean even when his opponents wouldn't.
Although unemployed at the moment, Pedro's recent performance in the World Baseball Classic has demonstrated that he needs to be signed immediately.
Pedro, if you get to read this, although your glory days are behind you and you cannot pitch five-plus innings consistently, please take an incentive-laden deal. Or maybe a two-year deal for not as much money and be a back-end reliever. You can surely help a team in need.
Who agrees? Although we will probably never see a pitcher of his caliber again in the Major Leagues, we can always sit back and think about the great moments he provided for us, and the all-time best quote ever said by a baseball players (sorry Yogi Berra, but he beat you here):
"Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I'll drill him in the ass, pardon me the word."
As I depart from this editorial, I will not say any goodbyes or cheesy final remarks, I would just leave you with this:
Eight-time All-Star Selection
Three-time Cy Young Winner
World Series Champion
AL Pitching Triple Crown Winner
Led AL in wins 1999
Led NL in wins 1997
Led AL in ERA '99-'03
Lead AL in strikeouts '99-'02.
Due to voting rules, he was snubbed out of an MVP award and finished top-three in MVP voting in numerous years.
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