Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I think of him as a Dodger

I am so happy that Pedro Martinez was elected to the Hall of Fame that I haven't bothered to consider anything else about today's announcement. I'm certainly not spending time on which voter picked only eight players, or dissecting someone's ballot reasoning so obsessively that I work myself into a froth.

I'm so happy about Martinez, in fact, that I don't have much to say about fellow selections Randy Johnson or John Smoltz other than "congratulations".  And I almost totally forgot about how pleased I should be that Craig Biggio got in because it means I've interviewed another Hall of Famer.

Biggio couldn't have been more professional to a young and clueless sportswriter than he was answering my questions on an early July day. It's really true what they say about a first impression -- it may be the only impression you get to make. Ever since that moment, I've been a lifelong fan of Biggio, just because he accommodated me.

But back to someone who I've never met, but remains one of my favorite players of all-time. I wrote a tribute to Pedro Martinez a couple of years ago when inducting him into the "I'm Bad Ass And You're Not" Club. My feelings still hold true. I am delighted with how he conducted himself on the mound, his ability and his fearlessness in everything.

I am also delighted that he began as a Dodger. If Fred Claire had never existed, Martinez would always have been a Dodger. But the Dodgers' brass couldn't stop comparing the slight Pedro to his taller and more successful brother Ramon and I'll stop right there before a mention Delino's last name and go down a road I don't want to travel.

I think of Pedro Martinez a Dodger. When I read about Martinez, my first image is him in a Dodger uniform.

That's probably a bit unusual. I would think the majority thinks of him as a Red Sox pitcher. He did his best work there. The more romantic and historic think of him as a Montreal Expo. Fewer think of him as a Met. And those trying to outhipster everyone think of him as a Phillie.

But the Dodgers saw him first and they're my team.

I don't have a lot of cards of Martinez in other uniforms, but I do have 32 cards of him as a Dodger.

I think that's enough to show 10 of my favorites in no particular order.

You knew you had something special in the early '90s when Donruss plastered the word "rookie" on its card -- "The Rookies", "Rated Rookie", it didn't matter. I like that aspect and the fact that the lines above and below are not blue. Yeah, I know Pedro is all in blue. I didn't say it made sense.

These Pinnacle Team 2001 cards are far more regal and beautiful than a scanner can convey. I pulled this card out of a pack of Pinnacle 20 years after I should have, and that only adds to my enjoyment.

Anyone with a mega Pedro Martinez collection has this card. Martinez spent 10 games of the 1991 season in Bakersfield where he went 8-0 with 83 strikeouts and 19 walks. THE DODGERS TRADED THIS GUY.

This card is here because it's 1992 Bowman. If I tried to get another '92 Bowman card of Pedro, someone would make me pay too much money. I just know it.

Upper Deck did it first, but Fleer did the SuperStarSpecial. Both feature a ton of writing on the back. I think a couple of years later, Fred Claire pulled out the Upper Deck card in a meeting and said, "look how much shorter he is than Ramon!"

There are a lot of shots of Martinez in action as a Dodger. This is one of the best. It's a tight shot, but not too tight, and it is abundantly clear.

Not your average 1994 Topps, this is the Spanish-back version. This was sent to me by a Red Sox fan who is no doubt puzzled by me equating Martinez with the Dodgers.

Back before Panini, it wasn't easy finding an unmarked Dodgers cap. Martinez looks like they won't let him play in the game.

Just a beautiful card, from the design to the background to the moment in Martinez's delivery.

Final card. Martinez had style, as evidenced by his blue glove, but he also had character. There was never any doubt from my perspective that Martinez thought the game was fun. I think some players who took the game too seriously couldn't comprehend that side of him.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Martinez's speech during his induction ceremony in July.

But that's all I have to say about the Hall.

Except for this ...

I guess the voters thought one of these guys didn't drum well enough.


  1. I'm happy Martinez got in as well. Not as happy as I am that Biggio got in but Marrinez was always one of my favorite players. I was glad he finished his career with the Phillies.

  2. I don't know why this post made me think of this - I guess it's the Piazza card at the bottom. I heard in one of the HOF shows that Piazza doesn't want to go in as a Dodger (he will almost assuredly be elected next year) because of how the Dodgers treated him on the way out. This makes me kind of sad. I don't even like the Dodgers, but I just think Piazza is venting his anger in the wrong place. When a guy goes into the Hall, it means a lot to the fans who rooted for him. Saying you don't want to be remembered as a Dodger - yeah it's kind of a way to get back at the team, I guess. But other than their announcer - who on the Dodgers is the same? Different ownership, different front office people. But the same fans.

    1. He doesn't get to decide how he goes in, but the Hall will probably make him a Met anyway.

      I think of Piazza as a Dodger even more than I think of Martinez as a Dodger. I don't blame Piazza for being upset, but grudges like that help no one. If that's the way he still feels, he'll come around one day.

  3. Gee I wonder how much better the Dodgers would've been if they had kept both Piazza and Martinez.

  4. When I think of Pedro, I think it's pretty obvious how I see him. He's stopped by the broadcast booth during a few Red Sox games and he is as entertaining up there as he was on the mound. I hated seeing him go after the 2004 World Series, but in hindsight it was probably the right decision. One of my favorite players as well.

    I only think of Piazza as a Dodger. He doesn't look right to me in any other uniform. It's like seeing Frank Thomas in anything other than a White Sox uni.

  5. I heard an interview with Pedro yesterday. I think a lot of his motivation was that he constantly thought he had to prove himself. His experience as a Dodger was a big part of that.

  6. I love Pedro. His 2000 season was about as good as a pitcher could be.

  7. My memory is a little faulty - but I think it was a spring training game - back when Pedro was about to burst out from the Dodgers farm. The hype was a game featuring Pedro vs. his brother Ramon. Ramon, BTW, was no slouch. He was the Dodgers' lights-out ace for years.
    Pedro beat Ramon in that game, and Ramon said he wasn't surprised, as his little brother was an even better pitcher than he was. Boy, what an understatement that was. How I wish Lasorda and Claire had listened to their ace.

  8. Here's one: