Monday, May 01, 2006

Pedro is a God

by Doug Silversten

I admit it. I was one of them.

When the Mets signed Pedro Martinez to a 4-year, $53 million contract following the 2004 season, I, like countless other Met fans, questioned the move. While this clearly wasn't going to be the second-coming of Bobby Bonilla, this wasn't as sure of a thing that it now seems in retrospect. People with selective memories may forgot, but there were plenty of people calling WFAN and worrying that the Mets had once again paid too much and committed to too many years for an aging, past his prime superstar.

And I was one of them.

And I was wrong.

Pedro is a god. Yes, that's right: a god. Blasphemy? Heck no. Have you seen Pedro pitch? Even the God that parted the Red Sea can't dominate a game, and play with a crowd of 50,000-plus at the same time, like Pedro Martinez can.

With apologies to Mike Piazza, the Mets haven't had a superstar like this since Dwight Gooden. A player you can’t take your eyes off. Social calendars throughout the tri-state area are revolving around this guy. Mr. and Mrs. Smith invited you and your wife to dinner on Friday? Oh, sorry. We can’t make it. It's a Pedro night.

All the possible negatives people were discussing at the time of his signing have turned out to be way off the mark. Fans were worried that he was a ticking time bomb, that his right arm was going to fall off one day soon. Well, I realize we are only a little more than a year into the 4-year contract, but I haven't read too many arm concerns lately. In fact, for some reason people seem to think Pedro has this long injury history, when in reality he is one of the most durable pitchers out there. Only once in last 10 years has Pedro failed to reach 180 innings. Six times during that stretch he was in the top 10 for the league in innings pitched. Oh, and during that time he also won 3 Cy Young Awards, led the league in ERA 5 times, strikeouts 3 times, WHIP 6 times, and even complete games once. Injury history? Baloney.

The next fear was that Pedro was going to be a "cancer in the clubhouse." At least I can proudly say that I never bought into this one. It's funny that Met fans even brought this up, considering we were only a few years after Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson playing cards in the clubhouse during the Mets ouster in the 1999 playoffs. Whatever the opposite of "cancer" is, that's Pedro. He has livened up this clubhouse, this team, this franchise, and this city like no Mets player has ever has.

I love how he plays with the crowd. I love that you can't knock that smile off his face. I love how he handles the media. Yes, it's a man-crush.

Pedro is a god.

Doug Silversten's column appears alternate Mondays


Blogger Alan Eliot said...

Pedro is a guy you can't help but like- but when you have one of the greatest pitchers of all time leading the charge for your team, what's not to like?

2.94 ERA, .89 WHIP, 33K, 5-0. I'd say he's having a pretty good year. 34 year-old Pedro may not be 28-year-old Pedro, but he's still one of the best.

That being said, I wouldn't rush to crown him God. He's proven all-too-mortal recently, with his toe pain (not something that will go away) and a rotator-cuff that may or may not hold up. True, his stats this year belie the fact that he may be suffering from a minor injury, but remember his bad first start (5ER, 6BB, 4H- 6IP) and his decent third start (3ER, 2BB, 6H albeit with 8K in 6.2IP) to go with his three "Pedro" starts this year. You hope for the best, but one shouldn't poo-poo his pain.

Pedro's barely a year into a 4 year contract. So far, he's been worth every penny and more. However, there are three long seasons ahead-and those will dictate how history will view the signing of Pedro.

Pedro was a God, and in most ways still is a God, but the more pertinent question is: will Pedro continue to be a God for three more seasons? Everyone declines at some point, and you hope that the Mets don't have to be the ones to witness that with him on their side.

Monday, May 01, 2006  

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"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
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