Pedro Week: The Many Faces of Pedro Martinez

With Pedro Martinez set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, Fenway Pastoral takes a look back at some of the images of a baseball icon’s career in Boston.

When he played for Boston, Pedro was a man who radiated extremes. On the one hand, the man most fans saw the most of – the side we paid to see –  was intensely competitive and bitter. He took everything personally. Pedro once confirmed that, sadistically, he invented reasons to hate the opposition by going so far as to imagine twisted scenarios such as players bounding and gagging his mother and holding a knife to her throat. These were the things he conjured up when he dug deep for extra zip on a fastball.

This brooding made his sense of humor and playfulness all the more stark on those occasions when he’d let it out. Pedro was unapologetic; a man of complexities that, decades from now, will not be lost in the oversimplification that tends to come with the passage of time. He was indeed a pitcher of a thousand scowls on the mound, but he somehow seamlessly transitioned into the man who was infectiously personable off the field.

 

 

 

Pedro Week: The ESPN Sportscenter Ad That Was Way Funnier than Roger’s

With Pedro Martinez set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend, Fenway Pastoral takes a look back at some of the moments and images of a baseball icon’s career in Boston.

Pedro Martinez’s 2002 ESPN Sportscenter ad:

Roger Clemens’ 1995 ESPN Sportscenter ad:

Pedro Week: The Magazine Covers

With Pedro Martinez set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend, Fenway Pastoral takes a look back at some of the moments and images of a baseball icon’s career in Boston.

Sports Illustrated, April 1998

Pedro SI 1998

Beckett Baseball, 1999

Pedro Beckett Magazine 1999

The Sporting News, May 2000

Pedro Sporting News 2000

The SPorting News, February 2001

Pedro Sporting News 2001

Sports Illustrated, October 2003

Pedro SI Oct 2003

Pedro Week: Spring Training Portraits, 1998-2004

With Pedro Martinez set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend, Fenway Pastoral takes a look back at some of the moments and images of a baseball icon’s career in Boston.

The seven-year progression of the “first day of school”-style spring training portraits provides an interesting visual evolution of the dynamics that belied Pedro Martinez’s Boston career.

1998

Pedro shows up in Fort Myers in February 1998 and dons the Red Sox uniform for the first time. He is a signature talent, representing a true rarity in the modern game–a non-homegrown ace changing teams on the cusp of his prime. Still, for all that talent, he wallows in relative obscurity because he had been pitching for the Montreal Expos in the waning days of the franchise’s existence. It may have been unjust, but it isn’t until he arrives in Boston that he will become a household name.

We see a solemn Pedro overwhelming the shadows at his back. There is a hardness, a guile. There is that ruthless intensity even before he’s thrown a meaningful pitch. There is a greatness restrained. It’s maybe easier to see now, in retrospect and with the benefit of knowing what he would do on the mound – particularly in the few years immediately following the taking of this photo. This is the young man coming into his own even as a lingering fear can be detected in his eyes.

1999

Pedro aced his first year in Boston, at the helm of a pitching staff for a team that returned to the playoffs the prior autumn thanks to the newly instituted Wild Card format. The team heads into the ’99 season with glimmering hope and genuine optimism. The city and the fans are on their feet, taking Pedro’s cue. That pesky stool is kicked away and basically nobody will sit down for six-plus months. Things have changed. Fenway hosts the All-Star Game. The team wins a playoff series against the team that had twice dispatched it with ease. Out of the darkness and into the light. The fear evident only a year earlier has struck out. Pedro looks cocky enough to already know what’s ahead.

2000

The Year After. How could any season follow Pedro’s 1999? The ’99 All-Star Game patch on the left sleeve is fittingly in full view. Nobody is quite ready to move on. Every start remains an unequivocal event. Pedro is again seated and there is now a visible weight on his shoulders. An earnest look in his eyes tell it all; they speak out to all those now looking on, paying the utmost attention. They plead, ask us for space. It’s not easy coming to realize you’ve been chosen to be a god.

2001

Slightly apprehensive excitement as Pedro begins what would ultimately be a lost season for the team and by what is now astronomical individual standards, disappointing in its brevity. Even in his 116 innings, he electrifies to the tune of the second-best K/9 rate of his career (12.6, behind only the 13.2 rate in 1999). By this time, he knows the evolution of his brand. The fans, the media, the league expect that his snarl on the mound will be balanced by a good-natured grin off the field. There is a bit less of Pedro to go around. Reservations are setting in.

2002

Pedro returns to form with a cool 199 innings. By this time at odds with various media and division foes, Pedro is still as charismatic as ever. He even bumps heads with his old pitching coach and (briefly) manager and comes out virtually unscathed. His name and popularity at this point are now in another stratosphere.

He shows a two-seam grip on the baseball in the shot, almost as though by default. Like it’s just easier to walk around this way so he can merely lift his arm when he is next asked to demonstrate it–a favorite go-to visual for countless unimaginative reporters during interviews.

2003

Pedro Martinez, prior to the final season when he was truly jaw-dropping (his ERA and home runs allowed totals would make their way north in 2004). On an individual level, this is the final year when it could be All About Pedro for any length of time. There was already Manny and, soon enough, there is also Ortiz. He is still the head honcho of the pitching staff and that is undisputed. But even that would change within a year. We were all better off for the evolution of it. As it turned out, Pedro couldn’t do it all himself even though he gave it about as noble an effort as he possibly could. This is his brightest, most polished look yet.

2004

Apprehension lurks behind the grin. Things are infinitely more complicated. Pedro’s legacy is even beginning to come into question by some looking for cheap bursts of attention. The naysayers come out, predictably in sync with his obvious mortality on the mound. He would finish fourth in the Cy Young voting–second fiddle even on his own team with Cy runner-up Curt Schilling now in the picture. His departure at the end of this year would be bittersweet for everyone.

He has the look here of someone who knows there are end points on the horizon. But it is not a look of unrest. He is at peace with his place. World Series title or not, Pedro’s status in Red Sox lore has already more or less been decided even if nobody can truly say that for sure.

Scrollable Photo Gallery: Recognitions of the Beauty that is Hanley Ramirez’s Left Field

If there is anything in the baseball world that is so obviously wrong, it has been Hanley Ramirez’s first three months in left field for the Boston Red Sox. For those unimaginative Red Sox fans out there still growling over the reality that the team probably isn’t winning the World Series, the only thing left to say is, Why so serious?

There is a growing contingent of observers (we’d estimate roughly 90% of the media; maybe 25% of fans) proving to be dead inside, who want to take it all away from us. They want to kill the laughter – they want HanRam and his bulky contract gone. They want the Red Sox to swallow a chunk of the deal and essentially pay one of the most entertaining players in baseball to DH for some other club. They say, “Cut bait now or pay the price later! He’s a clubhouse chemistry nightmare!”

They are what is wrong with modern professional sporting culture. If this is what this team is going to be, why not keep letting HanRam do what he does? Keep him where he is, in this awkward angular space, creating offense with his glove, teaching us all the joy of laughter during a season otherwise destined to be wrought with despair.

Red Sox fans ecstatic they’ll no longer have to sneak contraband veggies into Fenway Park

Fenway Farms photo

Photograph from @FreshNewEngland

Season ticket-holder Edith Coakley knows the feeling all too well. The nervous anticipation, ticket in hand, as she nears a turnstile to enter Boston’s baseball cathedral, Fenway Park on many a warm summer’s day.

It should be a feeling of excitement and euphoria. Instead, all she can do is fret anxiously as the gate attendant goes through her canvas carryall. Don’t find the eggplant, please. For the love of God, take away my carrots, but stay away from the eggplant. 

“I find the ballpark food options to be a bit too predictable,” Coakley explains. “So I’ve been bringing in my own vegetables for years. Fresh cherry tomatoes that you can pop in your mouth instead of stale Cracker Jacks or peanuts. Trust me, on a hot summer’s day, munching down crispy cucumber dices is so much more refreshing than eating some $5 frankfurter that’s been soaking in lukewarm toilet water for the past four hours.”

Her wisdom may be far from conventional, but the organization has finally caught on. The ballpark vegetable craze is no longer mere fad, limited to the over-industrious, enterprising health-nut minority.

Earlier this week, the team announced that this season will serve as the inaugural year for “Fenway Farms,” an on-site vegetable garden that will grow all the family favorite herbs and vegetables: green beans, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, pea shoots, parsley, oregano, cilantro, mint and countless other edibles.

Fenway Farms rendering

Homegrown products from Fenway Farms will be sold at concession stands and used as ingredients in food offerings. The team will also donate some beans and leaves to local needy school children.

For most fans such as Coakley, this is welcome news.

“No more weird glances when I pull a big-ass squash out of the front of my half-unbuttoned Nomar Garciparra jersey!” she rejoices.

As Loraine Smith from Seekonk put it, “Raw vegetables chock full of vitamins and a revamped Sox lineup chock full of raw power. What more can we ask for as Boston fans?”

John Hammond from Wellesley: “Some people are saying kale is just having its moment right now. That it’s a fad. That it’s a fluke or whatever. Well guess what, people said the same thing about David Ortiz in 2003.”

head of lettuce

One club official also confirmed to Fenway Pastoral that there is serious charity auction potential with Fenway Farms. “We have some stuff up our sleeves. For example, fans may enjoy our plan to sell to the highest bidder all heads of lettuce resembling Mark Bellhorn. These will become instant collector’s items and a portion of the sale proceeds will go to the Jimmy Fund.”

Fenway Farms is a worthy endeavor indeed. However, as with everything good in life there are drawbacks. As part of the team’s plan to enter the lucrative farmer’s market industry, it confirmed it will be forced to crack down on fans that continue to insist on bringing outside veggies  into the park on gameday.

“We cannot have unauthorized contraband cauliflower and cukes floating around the bleachers,” said one club official. “It will compromise our business model and I think fans will hopefully understand and accept that.”

Unfortunately, with Opening Day looming on Monday, some fans are planning to fight back.

“These damn big government liberal hippies want to control my every move. This is Agricultural Big Brother gone mad,” said Pete James of Hanson. “I have a right to choose where I acquire and consume my veggies. This is un-American and wrong. So long as this is still the U.S. of A., I plan on chopping my own broccoli fresh in the comfort of my grandstand seat. I’d just like to see them come try to stop me.”

Ray Holtz from Framingham: “This is your garden variety capitalistic get-rich quick scheme. Entice a captive audience with delicious vegetables and make them pay an exorbitant mark-up. Seen it a thousand times. John Henry is just lining his pockets with the money he prints and you just know he’s keeping his pretty fancy boy self trim and his bowels regular with all that free kale.”

The Youker Files: Going AWOL from Cubs camp in Arizona to wave this new penis size study in Terry Francona’s face

Former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis played in the major leagues from 2004-2013 before spending last year in Japan. He announced his retirement last fall and subsequently took a job with Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs as a special assistant.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for years, you guys.

Scientists finally did it. I’m sure we’re all aware of the fact that back when Terry Francona was my coach with the Red Sox, he made some incredibly insensitive remarks about my penis length. He didn’t exactly term it that way, but we all know what he meant. He said I wasn’t a Greek god of anything because he’d apparently stole a few glances of my hog while I was in the locker room. Just ignorant.

So yeah yeah yeah, he was obviously kidding around. But that kind of colorful quote is the thing media types run with. I’ve never lived it down.

Until now.

I’ll admit, when I first glanced at the story my heart sank. See, the first article I read off the Internet earlier this week was from some British newspaper in England and numbers like 13 and 11 jumped off the computer screen at me. The pit of my stomach burned with a flurry of feelings I can’t even describe.

I guess my new boss Theo Epstein caught wind that I was moping around the Chicago Cubs’ spring training complex in Mesa (Arizona). All of a sudden I got a little sticky note inside my locker saying he wanted to see me. Now, I’ve seen the movie Major League about 40,000 times so this slip hanging in my locker scared the hell out of me.

I’m glad I didn’t barge into his office and tear the sticky into a thousand little pieces like I planned at first. Theo sat me down and explained something to me in layman’s terms – chiefly, the whole metric system.

Let me just say first off I don’t get Europe – why do they have to reinvent the wheel and fix things that ain’t broken? They can’t just use inches?

But I’m getting off track here.

Theo’s math lesson was a lot confusing and I stopped paying attention after a while, but not before doing a little math with Boy Wonder and figuring something out – Terry shortchanged me and it was time to formally seek his apology.

Now, mind you, I haven’t been a special assistant for the Cubs for very long. Less than a month, counting weekends and some personal time. I’m not really sure I’ve accrued a hell of a lot of vaca.

But Terry Francona’s Indians do their spring training stuff in Goodyear, Arizona – only about 45 minutes west of the Cubs’ facility. So I thought the best course of action would be to steal off for a few hours (it wouldn’t take long – I’d bring a fully printed, professionally bound copy of the penis study and wave it mockingly in Tito’s face). And to be stealth about it, I’d take a rental car and leave my car safely parked at the Cubs’ stadium, hence saving the trouble of having to take a day off yet also maintaining the appearance I was putting in my due time at the office so to speak. For all the Cubs knew, I was teaching my patented upper-hand bat grip slide to a youngster working on his swing timing.

So anyway I got lucky on Wednesday – the Indians were playing the Reds. As a Cincy kid from way back in the day, I figured this was probably a sign that this was my time to strike.

The ride was a breeze – rented a Jeep so that in case things didn’t go well with Terry I could do a little off-roading in the desert somewhere and blow off some of the inevitable steam.

Anyway, I encountered a couple of things of note in the parking lot once I got to Goodyear. The first was some inconsiderate goonball who had taken up two spaces in the garage with a compact car. I wasn’t about to let that go so I ripped a page from the large binder I had with the penis study in it. I figured the thing was so long-winded I could spare a page. I wrote out a long, detailed note to the guy about what a jerk he was to take up a space – what if somebody missed the ballgame looking for a spot because this guy decided he needed two? Et cetera et cetera.

I thought with that minor hurdle out of the way, I’d be able to walk into the Indians locker room and find Tito, show him the evidence about my normal-size member, and drive on back to the Cubs grinning ear to ear for getting the last laugh a decade later.

Unfortunately, I was accosted by several rabid fans in the parking lot. ‘You’re Kevin freaking Youkilis! Hey Kevin, sign me something!’ All these people were just swarming me. I could barely breathe.

The little kids all had hats and gloves and baseballs they wanted signed – lots of Reds fans from Ohio who remember me from my Cincy days. Really flattering and they were all begging me to come out of retirement and whatnot. Told ’em I’d think about it. Can’t say no to kids, you know?

The problem was I couldn’t leave some of the cute ladies who were also fighting for my attention, asking for my autograph. Only none of these girls had anything for me to sign – they didn’t have balls or pennants or my 2004 Red Sox rookie card or any of the typical stuff I expect my true fans to carry on their person. They were real pushy and none of them had a Sharpie either so I couldn’t just sign their breasts or buttocks and be on my way. (Some women like it when I just sign Yoooouk right across the cleavage.)

These chicks were so ill-prepared, but I’ve been turning over a new leaf and mellowing out big time now that I’m retired and married to Tom Brady’s sister. I’m a simple man and don’t want any trouble. So being the people person I am, I ripped some pages from my penis study binder that I had printed for Terry and signed Kevin Youkilis a dozen times and sent them off on their way.

Well, I’m sure you can tell where this is all going, tragically, by now. By the time I made my way to the clubhouse and asked for Terry, I realized basically all of the pages that proved my point about society’s misconceptions about the male hog were gone. The entire meat of the report – missing. Scattered about on car windshields and folded into purses of fickle female fans.

Ugh.

When Tito finally walked out of the clubhouse, he saw me holding the binder and began pointing and laughing hysterically. It was awful. I was in the height of my shame.

I dropped the binder and went after him the same way I did Rick Porcello a few years back. I didn’t care. I was steamed. I was going full bore right at him and was gonna tackle him when out of nowhere my former teammate Mike Aviles cut me off and chipped me off my route. Apparently, he didn’t care much for me during the time we were both in Boston in 2011 and we exchanged some mutual feelings of dislike. I’m glad the other guys there pulled me out of there and restrained me before I completely punked him.

After that, an executive from the Cleveland organization asked me not so politely to leave. What a long lonely walk back to the Jeep. The entire drive back to Mesa, all I could see was that image of Terry Francona pointing and laughing at me. Just a horrible feeling. So bad I forgot to even stop in the desert – I was too depressed for off-roading. Wasn’t up for sighting cacti – I’d dealt with enough pricks for one day. (Specifically, I’d bumped into a cactus grabbing a soda at a gas station and it left some pock-like marks.

So yeah, that’s about it. It’s unfortunate I had to pull a Schilling and take to the Internet. But awareness is important and I’m glad I didn’t back down to his bullying. I guess this beef with Terry Francona talking about my weenie is just going to continue onward into the abyss. So it goes.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to my new role as a special assistant with the Cubs. It’s gonna be like old times – Chicago even signed Manny Ramirez to some sort of a mentor role. I think they probably see the two of us as a good cop (me), bad cop (Manny) kind of dynamic.