He was without a doubt the most dominant, feared, respected and admired pitcher in all of baseball during the steroid-era. He was the one pitcher that you felt the need to watch every single time he took to the mound.
For seven years, Pedro Martinez was Boston.
The undersized power pitcher from the Dominican Republic, who was acquired from Montreal by Boston prior to the 1998 season for Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano, was the center piece in the baseball mecca that is Boston. Although it's been over five years since Pedro took to the hill for the Sox, all eyes will be on the same man we watched in awe of for nearly a decade.
One can't logically say that Pedro didn't give his heart and soul to the Boston Red Sox when examining the numbers, Martinez went a prolific 117-37 in a Red Sox uniform, including six 200+ strikeout campaigns and an average 2.49 ERA throughout his Boston tenure.
While Pedro is considered a shell of his former self, the feeling that the 38-year old hurler still has that one big game left in him is growing largely as the Philadelphia Phillies head into the heart of the Bronx tonight to take on the Yankees in a must-win game six.
Tonight, Boston, along with Philadelphia, turns to Pedro again for perhaps one final time.
Never one shy of the cameras, or the fans, Boston adored their ace and to this day, most still do. Whether he was striking out the side in an All-Star Game, throwing senior citizens down to the ground or asking Karim Garcia just who he is, the Hub will once again rally behind all 5'11" of Pedro and the rest of the Phillies in their battle tonight against the Evil Empire.
The feeling here? Pedro can do this.
“I respect the Yankees, I love the Yankees, but I would love to beat them as much as I look forward to playing them,” an eager Martinez said prior to the beginning of the World Series showdown against the Bronx Bombers.
For Boston, the pain from Martinez's last must-win start in Yankee Stadium from 2003 still stings, even 1,844 days later. It was Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series when Boston was just five outs away from capturing the American League Pennant and manager Grady Little decided to leave a clearly-gassed Pedro out there for the eighth inning.
The Yankees capitalized, and eventually capitalized off a Tim Wakefield knuckleball that sent them to the World Series.
That was then, this is now.
On the bench for the Phils is veteran manager Charlie Manuel, who will certainly be in the all-systems-go mode tonight with the Phillies standing on their last legs in an attempt to repeat as champions.
Here in Boston, the excitement and anticipation is growing as the Phillies will try to pull off the unexpected and steal a game tonight in New York City to force a decisive Game Seven in the Bronx. While Philadelphia will hope to the tame the free-swingin' Yankees' bats with Martinez, the Yankees will send veteran and proven clutch-pitcher Andy Pettite out to the bump tonight on just three days rest.
Can Pedro finally beat the demons that have haunted him at Yankee Stadium and help the Phillies live for yet another day?
Speaking for Boston, I can only say, help us Pedro Martinez, you're our only hope.