Question: You've had a unique relationship with the fans in the Bronx over the years. Why do you think that is? Have you thought about that over your career? And what about it do you enjoy?
PEDRO MARTINEZ: I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that. I mean, I have been a big fan of baseball for a long time, since I was a kid. My first ball I ever got from a Big League player I actually got to purchase in Dodger Stadium in a silent auction, was Reggie Jackson. I was actually a big fan of the Yankees, too.
For some reason with all the hype and different players that have passed by, maybe because I played for the Red Sox is probably why you guys made it such a big deal every time I came in, but you know, I have a good bond with the people. After playing in New York, I went to realize something: New York fans are very passionate and very aggressive. But after it all, after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they're real human beings. It's all just being fans.
I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you're wearing. All those things you can hear when you're a fan. But at the end of the day, they're just great fans that want to see the team win. I don't have any problem with that.
As a Yankee fan, I will be the first to say that most Yankee fans are not good fans.
Everyone booed as Pedro walked off the mound last night when they really should have applauded. This is a guy, as he said, who is one of the most influential players to step into Yankee Stadium. He discussed how he understands the fans and appreciates their passion, yet after throwing a gem, and still walking off leaving his team behind, and eventually getting the loss, the Yankee fans boo him.
Looking at his career stats against the Yankees, he is 11-11, 216 innings pitched with 4 complete games, 1 shutout, 261 strikeouts, 63 walks with an ERA of 3.20, a WHIP of 1.08 and a .211 BAA. Although these may not be dominant stats, but it must be noted that this is strictlyagainst Yankee line-ups from 1998 on, which have had some of the best and most patient hitters of our time. These stats include his 17 strikeout game in 1999 against The Yankees, and his great outing in the ALCS against The Yankees which resulted in the Red Sox only win in that series.
However, he has never had that key playoff moment to propel his team over the Yankees like Curt Schilling (with the Red Sox and Diamondbacks), or Josh Beckett and his series clinching game in 2003 for the Marlins. This is a guy who admit that The Yankees, at times (and last night not being one of those times), have owned him. He really gives us no reason dislike him with such passion, other than the fact that he was a member of the Red Sox.
People will point to the Don Zimmer incident, but at the end of the day, Pedro got that loss that day (and honestly what would you do if an old man is charging at you like a bull). You can point to his 2003 ALCS game 7 performance where he pitched extremely well, but was left in just a little too long, which overshadowed his solid outing. That could have been the key moment he needed.
If anything, his career should be applauded. He was a power pitcher, who deteriorated, rehabbed, and came back to be a crafty, smart and still dominant pitcher. There has never been any reason to believe that he used PED's at any point in his career, and yet he still finds ways to pitch well at 38. That is not something that can be said about some of The Yankees own!
I was not at the game last night, but I applauded Pedro (from my couch) and his performance, unlike most Yankee "fans" at the stadium.
As he walked off the mound, he looked down at the ground and appeared defeated at first. I almost felt bad for him at that moment. However, as you can see in the picture above, he flashed a smirk at the fans which is consistent with what he said pre-game. He appreciates our passion, even if we may not appreciate his efforts.
Hey, maybe I am being too hard on Yankee fans and in some weird way, the booing is New York's way of saluting and thanking Pedro for all he has done. Maybe in some weird way, Pedro knows this.
Like he said post-game, "If I was with The Yankees, I would probably be king over here..." He is right.