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Martinez Full of Grace

Podres to Conti to Pedro to Humber. Plus Koufax

floating around camp. Yes, it’s enough to make the heart sing. And Tom

Terrific hasn’t even shown up yet, assuming he still pops by to

dispense advice on grips and motions. We’ve got great pitching in the

past and in the future, and with Martinez on board, maybe at least once

every five days right now.

A New Englander I know congratulated

me on the signing of Beltran with the subtext, “this should make up for

Pedro.” I was a little disconcerted by that. Getting Pedro is a good

thing, I said. Isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Á la Charles Jefferson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High

(and maybe even Mike Piazza in 1998), I looked at Pedro Martinez

donning our cap, modeling our jersey and standing in front of our logo

in December and couldn’t quite shake the notion that he doesn’t really

live here, he just flies in for games. But he doesn’t. He’s ours. He’s

a Met. The actual Pedro Martinez pitches for the New York Mets. Son of

a gun.

Has anybody actually stopped and grasped this fact? We’re

not talking about a wheezing Warren Spahn just hanging on. We’re not

talking about Dean Chance filling in a trivia answer for ex-Cy Young

winners. We’ve got a Hall of Famer who went 16-9 for the world

champions last year.

Sure, I’m aware of his reputation and his

hijinks and whatever went on in his old place of business. But I

haven’t seen a hint of it yet here. OK, so he wore a wacky fake head on

his real head one day. And he’s let it be known he doesn’t think much

of all of Willie’s rules. So he’s human. It’s hardly enough to

constitute rationalization just yet.

He’s teaching Philip Humber

the circle change, for god’s sake. He’s smiling with and throwing heat

to Mike. He’s shown up every day as far as we know. He looked great the

last time he took the mound when it counted, against St. Louis in the

World Series. If Pedro Martinez is a problem, we should all have

problems like that.

I don’t even fear those words will haunt me

come August. He may not pitch like the Pedro of legend, but I have a

feeling that the “what crazy thing is he gonna do now?” stuff will be

left behind in the other league. New York, for all its nutsiness, isn’t

Boston. We’ve had malcontents — we’ve cornered the market on them at

times — but they don’t blossom into full-grown subsidiaries of the

larger cause. At worst, say Bonilla, they annoy and they are shunned.

If Pedro pitches something like the Pedro of 2004 (and in the National

League, if we’re to believe the trendy school of thought, the lack of a

DH will translate 16-9 to 26-3) and is merely colorful, he’ll and we’ll

be fine.

It was wondered upon his signing whether Pedro might

get bored having to live outside of a pennant race. Shoot, I’ll get

bored if we’re not in a pennant race. But the man is not a child. Yes,

I’m projecting whatever stoic qualities I want to onto him, but let’s

assume that the guy who had the greatest run of pitching since Koufax

is a professional.