It was the best of times, it was the best of times. Fall 2004. I was hot out of college. Wide eyed and lost, living in the Bean and trying to make sense of life. There was one thing I knew for real, and that was that I loved the Boston Red Sox. Having been devastated the previous year by the terrible coaching decisions of Grady Little and the fortuitous swing of Aaron f’ing Boone, I nervously watched every game of the playoffs, accompanied by friends and strangers, alike. High fives were distributed liberally, so too were fist pumps. The curse was broken.
Pedro Martínez was an integral part of the team, and the root of so much of the success. His affable personality and pointed confidence on the field made him a much-loved hero. He was also quirky (who can forget the Zimmer incident), but his strengths outweighed his weaknesses. To me, he is a rare example of someone who left the club and I bid adieu with fondness and a wish of luck.
Today, he officially announced his retirement, well announced he was going to announce. Although he hasn’t pitched since 2009 and this doesn’t come much of a surprise, I find it fitting to send him off in style. Pedro was one of the best. His statistics speak for themselves. One particularly impressive set of numbers to consider: From 1997-2003, in the heart of the steroids era, Pedro Martinez AVERAGED 201 IP, 144 H, 45 BB, 252 K, 13 HR, a 2.20 ERA, a 17-5 record. Dude was no joke. A dream to have on the mound, you felt good on days he was slated to pitch. When there were rumors that he may sign a minor league contract with the Sox back in April, I think we all secretly hoped we’d see him in Fenway one final time. Alas, it is not meant to be. Thus, I bid you farewell, Pedro. May your retirement be filled with gardening and revelry.